June 24th, 2007
Posted By:

Children living in foster care is suppose to be a temporary situation. There are cases where children spend years living in foster care. Should this concern us for a number of reasons?

The biological parents deserve time to get their lives together so they can get their children back from foster care. This is a point that most of us can agree with. Should there be a time frame that the courts have to follow? Why should parents get years to decide to be responsible parents?

Being a parent is not about convenience. It should be about the children. As a parent you must have a commitment to the children that you have been blessed with. Children do not ask to be born or do not choose the timing. All of that is in the hands of the parents. We are not all blessed with having our acts together before having children and some parents do need assistance to become parents to their children living in foster care. The thought of it taking years is a little much. What else in life do you have the luxury of years to decide to be responsible?


Children are a gift, a blessing, they are not a right to the biological parents. Children deserve rights and their rights should come first and foremost. Living years in limbo while their parents see if they can be responsible enough to parent does still happen. We have to look at what kind of damage can be done to a child that is moved out of a loving home after living there for years.

I think 18 months, maybe two years is adequate time for a biological parent to become responsible enough to be parents. I believe that a child that spends years living in a home and then one day is moved does great damage to the child.

Should the rights of a child come before the parents? How much time should a parent have to become responsible? What is the difference in a child living in foster care for 8 years or 17 years then being returned to the biological parents?

Please share your thoughts and feelings below.

More reading:

Not all Biological Parents Deserve Additional Help

Biological Parents Needing Additional Help

9 Responses to “Is Parenting a Right or a Privilege?”

  1. Faith Allen says:

    Personally, I would give parents 1 year to get their stuff together and then TPR. The problem is that children’s needs do not go “on hold” just because the parents can’t get their act together.

    One year means that the child has spent 1 birthday, 1 Christmas, 1 Mother’s Day, 1 Halloween, etc. without his parents. A year is a HUGE percentage of a child’s life. The child needs to feel safe and secure in a loving home. If his parents cannot provide that for him after a year, then it is time to get those needs met elsewhere.

    - Faith

  2. Yondalla says:

    You keep using the phrase “to decide to become” as though that is what it takes: a decision. It takes more than a decision to turn ones life around, it can take years.

    But let’s say we follow one of these radical plans. We give parents one year or 18 months and if they are not yet able to provide a stable home then they loose parental rights (any exceptions for parents who are incarcerated? Or physically ill?). Where to do you expect all these children to go? Will that save them from foster care?

    Not all kids taken into foster care are babies and toddlers, and even if we invoked your radical plan it would not become that way. We would still have eight-year-olds, and twelve-year-olds and even teenagers. How are they benefited by sharp deadlines?

  3. Faith Allen says:

    These children would at least have the **possibility** of finding a stable and permanent home. Right now, they can linger for years, bouncing from foster home to foster home, with no hope of having a permanent place to call home. It is easier to find an adoptive home for a child who is younger and has only been in the system for a year than it is to find a permanent home for a child who is older and has lived in foster care for 5+ years.

    I grew up in an unstable home. I know how damaging it is for a child. I still suffer the aftereffects of this as an adult. When someone does not know safety in childhood, he suffers well into adulthood.

    The bottom line is that we have to choose between the best interest of the child versus the best interest of the parent. Unfortunately, probably because only the adults can vote, the parent’s “needs” are given preference. The parent can spend YEARS going in and out of rehabs. Meanwhile, the child has no stability in his life as he moves through the foster care system.

    The child cannot get those years back. A child has needs that don’t just go away because a parent cannot or will not provide for them. Two of a child’s basic needs are safety and security. Neither are provided as long as a child is a ward of the state bouncing from foster home to foster home. No matter how good a foster home might be, it’s just temporary.

    At least some of these kids could find permanent, stable homes if we TPR’d sooner. Right now, they have no hope at all as long as the parents continue to fail to get their lives together enough to provide a stable home for their children. It is the children who are suffering, and there is nothing fair about that.

    - Faith

  4. MamaS says:

    You are so right — there should be a time limit for the sake of the child. If a parent is incarcerated due to choices they made, the child’s life does not stop. Perhaps it seems extreme to lose both liberty AND parenthood, but the child has lost a home because of the parent’s choice.
    If a parent is too ill, physically or mentally, to parent and the prognosis is for a long illness it is unfair to put the child “on the foster shelf” to “see whether they come out of it”. There is so much emphasis on “giving the parents a chance to get their act together” — and another chance, and another and another. We should be giving the children a chance to get out of foster care and into permanent placement, whether that be kinship placement or caring adoptive homes.
    “Giving birth” may be a “right” but being a parent is a PRIVILEGE.

  5. I think you all make some really good points here. What keeps coming to mind as I read them is a statute of limitations…

    At what point can we say “NO, this is wrong for the child”?

    After reading this blog (http://foster-care.adoptionblogs.com/index.php/weblogs/a-mother-for-8-years-and-then), I have to say about that particular situation “No, this is wrong for the child who was taken out of foster care as well as for the sibling that the child spent 8 years with.”

    8 years is a long time to leave a child and expect to come back.

  6. MAD_FS@hotmail.com says:

    I would first like to make a statement to all the people that have their opinions, solutions, statute of limitations or whatever for “Termination of a parent’s right to parent their child. We are not God and have no right to judge, the parent of a child that we “Foster parents” would even consider raising as our own. If the child’s parent(s) “can’t get it together, within the “dead-line”; their child’s deadline may not be good enough for our “foster parent” goodie, two-shoe roles, as the “resucer”, the “if it wasn’t for me”, or “I saved you from the abuse of your parent(s)”, attention seeking, control needing, “look at me”, requiring people in this sad world. I haven’t read where one foster parent suggested, keeping the family together, meaning, no one even thinks about “family stability”, I guess, it’s all about “ME”, meaning, the person, that gets what he/she wants. In this case, becoming, “recusers”, for poor little amy or john. You all are just as selfish as a parent that do not get their self as you say “together”, in the set time. I think drinking can really damage the thinking process. When making statements about “dividing a family’s stability” (DFS), remember, “we know where we been, but, we do not know where we are going”, okay? Talk to you ladies, soon, “Parent(s) Rights. Remember this! NO ONE IS IMMUNE TO THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF LIFE!!!!!!!! Let’s suggest building a place to keep the family together, like the one for “domestic violation”. Always know some parent(s) want their children, at birth, and before and after being kidnapped by the state for their “power seeking, memorable souls”.

  7. MAD_FS@hotmail.com:

    When you build that glorious shelter to keep families in crisis together, you let us know and we’ll be the first to support it and give it publicity. Until then, you need to realize that we have to work with and change the system we currently have and that won’t happen simply with rants on blogs. The only way it will happen is if people who care enough and have the energy and time available work at it.

    While we appreciate the fact that you are sharing your views here, I’ve just read four comments of yours that all looked pretty much the same. If you’ll spend as much time on activism as you do writing comments, I’m sure you’ll be very successful in your efforts to see this family support shelter system come to fruition.

  8. lorig says:

    I have a question I hope someone here can answer. I want to understand if a child who is 16 can go into fostercare voluntarily, by saying her Dad and step mother in some way harmed her without proving it. I know of a situation (friends) where this SEEMS to be the case, and it puzzles me. I suppose I would like to vindicate my friends in my own head, from having harmed this emotionally high strung teen in a way that would warrent foster placement. THey appear to be kind, loving, generous, and totally stable. Because they spend a lot of time with my own kids, I would like to trust that they are good people and that their daughter, (not so long ago removed from her neglectful bio mother’s home) is just an rebellious teen who wanted out from her Dad and step mother’s stricter house. So I would like to know if its POSSIBLE that she went in ‘voluntarily’ without having had to prove wrongdoing.
    Pardon my ignorance on the subject. I realize it is VAST

  9. dcbarne says:

    Why should the parents right out weight the right of the child? We as parents are put her to care for and LOVE our children as GOD loves us not to put them on the side line and come back later to pick them up when they get ready. When you have a child your rights sotp coming first, the day you have that baby. This is a big part of the problem our country is faced with now too many un LOVED children that grow up to become un LOVED and un LOVING adults and passing the same cycle on to their children. So when are we going to stop the cycle and put the children first?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.