The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, April 07, 2006


One overlooked aspect of fostering that is hard to deal with is weekly parental visits. At best, everything about them is profoundly sad. Often, parental visits can be much worse.

Biological parents are typically permitted a one-hour, supervised visit with their children. In Ohel's case, it usually takes place at their offices and the foster kid is taken (either by a foster parent or a volunteer) to the visit. In the case of the kids that we care for, this means a three hour trip, two of which are spent in a car.

Visits can be suspended in certain circumstances but it often takes a court order to do that.

Visits are almost always sad. It is hard to even imagine the sadness of a parent at the conclusion of a visit, knowing that he or she will not see the child again for a week, and only then for an hour. The children, at best, are very confused by these visits and have a hard time processing them. The visits can also be extremely chaotic and disruptive. (I attended one visit with Fosterboy and could not believe the absolute chaos (and this was supervised!!)).

It is interesting to see what is happening now with the Baby. She turned 11 months this week. In the beginning, obviously, she had no clue what was going on. A volunteer would pick her up, she'd spend two hours in a car seat and one hour being held by a strange woman. Now, however, she is starting to grasp the concept of separation. When the volunteer tries to take her from MHW, she understands what's going on and is not happy about separating. When she gets to the visit, she is often unhappy to be held by a stranger. It breaks our heart to think of how that must make her mother feel.

We wonder what the Baby will think as she gets a bit older. How will we explain what's going on (Not just with respect to the visits but in general).

It probably seems quite obvious to everyone that parental visits are a good thing and, often, they are. However, we have experienced situations where parental visits made the kids nuts and undid a week's worth of work. We have seen the effects of visits linger for days. Even when all goes well, they can be very disruptive of a child's routine and structure.

There are no good answers.


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