Written by Washington Foster Team
The end goal of every fostering situation is reunification. That’s because studies show that reuniting foster children with family members improves the permanency outcomes for both parties.
We’ve previously talked about reunification expectations vs. reality, so in this post we want to shine a light on successful reunifications — what happened, how it happened, and what made them work.
The Daniels Family
We recommend watching this enlightening video from the Kansas Department of Children and Families about the Daniels family’s problems and ultimate reunification, but to summarize:
- The parents recognized their bad decisions which had led to their two children being taken away and placed into foster care.
- The Kansas Department of Children and Families, along with fostering service provider KVC, provided the parents with a wide range of services to address their issues and help them to be better parents to their children.
- Through courses the parents were required to take, along with constant contact with the foster parents, the Daniels family was reunited within six months.
Eight years ago, Jason Bragg was 90 days clean and sober when a CPS investigator knocked on the door to investigate a claim from Jason’s ex-partner that he had abused his son.
While the investigator found no evidence of the abuse, Bragg confided that he was struggling with sobriety and asked for help. Unfortunately, that help wasn’t provided. Four months later, he relapsed and his son was taken away from him by CPS.
Bragg managed to get clean again within a couple of months, but it took nearly a year of meetings, programs, and court dates before the reunification occurred. Today, Bragg contracts with the Washington State Office of Public Defense’s Parents Representation Program and advocates for biological parents in support of reunification.
You can read Jason Bragg’s full story here.
Mary Jean & Joslyn
This story hits close to home, as Mary Jean Smith is the president of Foster Parents Association of Washington State.
A former foster child herself, Mary Jean raised two kids with her husband Larry, then decided to pass on the hope she’d experience from being a foster child by becoming a foster parent herself.
25 years later and counting, Mary Jean and her husband have been foster parents to more than 100 kids. The last foster child to join their home, a four-year-old named Joslyn, grew up with them and they are now her legal guardians.
Joslyn still has occasional contact with her biological parents, but she now calls Mary Jean and Larry “Mom” and “Dad”.
Traci & Carissa
Traci and her husband had always wanted a large family, which is why after raising four kids of their own they became foster parents.
When the children of Carissa, a young mother in an abusive relationship, joined their family, Traci and her husband decided they needed to help her as well.
One day, Traci and her husband asked Carissa if she would like to join her two kids as part of their forever family and she agreed. Now they are one unit living together.
Another video worth checking out is this 2018 interview with foster parent Gena Thomas and her husband, who took in an undocumented child.
The full story is complicated and occasionally heartbreaking but, through the Thomases’ hard work and care for the child, they were able to successfully navigate an unhelpful bureaucracy. They also helped the child deal with the trauma of being forcefully separated from her mother and assisted in their eventual reunification.
Sara & Samantha
Young mother Samantha found out that her two boys were in foster care while she was incarcerated. A few months later, she met Sara and Sara’s husband, who informed her that they were hoping to adopt.
What could have become a battle turned into an opportunity, however, as Sara realized that Samantha needed an advocate for the return of her kids. Today, the boys live at home with Samantha and all three remain connected to Sara and her husband as an extended family.
For more information and advice on reunification, click here to read our full, in-depth guide. Then, when you're ready to start the process of becoming a foster parent, download our free checklist on preparing your home and family for foter care.