A call for equal rights
Washington state law needs to be changed to help our foster children. Once a child has resided with a foster family for at least 12 months, the foster family needs to become the legal guardian, with the same legal standing as the birthparents, during the resolution of the permanency plan.
Within a year of living as a family, strong psychological attachments are developed and the foster parents become experts on the needs of that child. Currently, foster children can live with foster families indefinitely in transition.
However, foster parents are not equals in child-welfare cases. Their opinions are marginalized as nonprofessionals, and their willingness to provide permanency is interpreted as anti-birth-family sentiment.
There are many decent, loving families willing to help a foster child find a permanent home, but few willing to live through years of powerlessness under the adoption process.
Open adoption with liberal contact may be the most compassionate option for birthparents struggling with long-term addiction and/or mental health issues. But, is not openly offered as a solution toward permanency. Why not?
We all know DNA no longer defines family in modern society. Our laws and child welfare policies need to reflect that.
— Jennifer Gross, Everett