Concurrent Planning: Another kind of orphan care

This post is sponsored by the Ad Council in partnership with AdoptUSkids.

When people talk about orphan care, oftentimes the first thing they think of is adoption. I’ve talked before about the need to extend this definition to include family preservation, as well as orphan prevention through family planning and aid for struggling families. Foster care is another important way to care for vulnerable children. But there are many children in the U.S. in foster care who are in a bit of a limbo referred to as “concurrent planning.”  This means that their birthparents are working on a case plan, but are not in compliance. So DCFS tries a two-pronged approach . . . they continue offering reunification services to the birthparents (usually involving clean drug tests, parenting classes, counseling, and monitored visits with their child). At the same time, they search for a foster home that could also serve as an adoptive home in the even that the parents fail to reunify with the child.

As you can imagine, recruiting concurrent planning foster parents is more difficult. It requires parents who are willing to live with a lot of ambiguity . . . who are willing to love a child as their own, to be an available future home, and at the same time, to support the efforts of the birth family to reunify. Honestly, I think it is one of the most selfless ways to care for a child, because it requires unconditional love regardless of future outcomes. It’s an incredibly important role in a child’s life.

We inadvertently became concurrent planning foster parents during our first adoption. It was a very challenging situation. It is hard to bond with a child and know that they may not be yours forever. But I am so glad we stuck with it. I can’t imagine our son having spent that limbo time in someone else’s home. I’m glad that we got to be his foster family during that process, instead of someone else. I’m glad that the transition from foster family to adoptive family did not equal another loss for him. As stressful as it was, I saw how important concurrent planning is for kids. It truly is in their best interest to have their birthparents work at reunification while staying in a home that could adopt them.

The ad council has a great campaign that you’ve probably seen, emphasizing that you don’t have to be perfect to be a foster parent. I can attest to that. While concurrent planning requires patience and love and selflessness, I am also convinced that it’s something that normal people . . . not saints, but normal, flawed, everyday people, can and should consider.

This post is sponsored by the Ad Council in partnership with AdoptUSkids, which promotes the adoption of kids waiting for families in foster care. All opinions are my own.


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