Day 8: Cultural Issues/Primary Families

The final class of the series (not our final class, because we took them out of order). And how fitting that we talked about culture. After all the talk of development and behavior, we now focus on the differences in a family’s culture. We may share culture similarities with those around us, but all our families and home are different. We bring these children, that come from their own familial culture, into our home, into our family, which contains a completely different culture. We talked for hours about the different cultures that we may find through this process. Some are obvious. For instance, religion. Or food. But what about food, exactly? I’m not talking tortillas versus rice. I’m talking wheat bread versus white bread. We eat wheat bread in our house. That is the way we have chosen to live. It’s our food culture. But what about the kids that have never had wheat bread? Am I to think that when they come into my home they will just magically switch over to our culture? Most likely not. I will give them the chance to try wheat bread, and if they won’t try it or if they don’t like it, I will buy white bread. I mean really. Pick your battles, am I right? But what about those cultures that are less obvious. For instance, affection. Some of us were raised with hugs and kisses, but what about those that are raised with little to no physical affection? I mean, these are all things that we know in the back of our mind, but it’s bringing them to the front that really made me think how interesting of an experience this will be. It can’t be a ‘my way or the highway’ sort of thing. Which for me could be tough. I like things my way. But you know, if it’s not going to hurt or kill someone or something, then we are going to just have to let it go.

We talked about how because most of these kids come from such a different culture, we need to be careful about the effect we have on them. Because the ultimate goal is reunification with their parents, if our culture changes these kids too much, then when they go back, they may have a difficult time being placed back into their family’s culture. All while still having an influence on these children for the better. Such a complicated effort.

We discussed foster parents judging the culture of the biological parents. Just because we may feel that we can perhaps provide a better living, or a better education, or on and on, that does not make us the better option for the child. The goal is reunification. Once the biological parent has cleaned up their life, they will be eligible to get their children back. As long as they can provide a safe environment for them. And I think that is one point that is the most difficult for the foster parents. Perhaps knowing what they can provide and comparing it to what the biological parents could provide. Well that, my friends, is a cultural judgment. The best thing for these kids is to be with their biological parent, first and foremost. Any cultural differences are really just opinions. And opinions based on culture, do not count.

This was the first class that I sat through that really made me want to cry. I have had such a rollercoaster ride going through these classes. When we started, I was so ready to be a foster-to adopt parent. Could not even wait. Then I went completely opposite and was worried that I didn’t really want to do this at all. Luckily, I overcame that pretty quickly. When class was over last night, I told Mike that maybe we should just do foster care, and not adopt. Which I know is just to cover up the fact that I suddenly have found the compassion for these parents that have their kids taken away. What an awful thing, to have your child taken from you. I know, it is because of poor decisions by the parents that these things happen, but don’t we all make poor decisions every day? Maybe not on the scale that these parents do, but don’t we still feel bad when we screw up? Don’t we have guilt? When we have made mistakes, we do what we need to do to reconcile them. Whether that is an apology, repentance, etc., we do whatever we need to do to make it right. And then we hopefully never make the mistake again. So absolutely these parents need to be given second chances. And for a time, their children might come into my home and I might fall in love with them and want them to stay forever, but they were never mine to keep. I did not give birth to them. God did not place them in my home in the beginning, he just put me in the position to help these children when their parents could not.

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