“Don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”
– Hebrews 13:16

Courtney Freeman, Guardian ad LitemI know Kalei Thompson very well. It has been such a transformative experience watching baby Anna Grace’s case unfold the way it did.

After the case was opened, we were initially told by DSS that this would not be a case that ends in reunification.

I made contact with baby Anna Grace’s biological mom, Kyla, early on. I could tell she really, truly loved her baby. She had made some less than ideal choices out of fear, but she wanted whatever was best for her daughter.

The Thompsons were wonderful to work with. The entire time, they kept an attitude of acceptance and trust, that they only wanted whatever outcome was best for Anna Grace. They sent Kyla pictures of her daughter on a regular basis, and they were not set on adoption, even though they were told the case wasn’t likely to end in reunification.

I was worried the first visit between Kalei and Kyla would be awkward and tense, but instead, it turned out to be such a sweet time. They had already established a friendship via letters, and it seemed like they‘d known each other forever.

While bi-weekly visits were required, they spent much more time than that together, due to the bond they shared and their mutual love for Anna Grace.

Weeks before the TPR hearing, we believed the case was going to change to reunification. Kyla did it, she put in the work, yet she struggled to decide whether or not to fight for getting her baby back.

Ultimately, Kyla decided she was part of a blended family now, and that her baby needed to stay with the Thompsons, as well as have her biological mom in her life. The judge made the declaration, “I have never seen this before. The way you two speak about each other, put aside feelings, love Anna Grace most, and work together. It’s incredible.”

Being part of Anna Grace’s case has given me a new perspective in how to advise foster parents.

Regardless of whether a case seems to be moving toward TPR or reunification, you can have a real and good relationship with the biological parents. Don’t settle for a cordial one. They’re not the enemy or bad people. Loving a child means loving their family, too.

Of course, sometimes maintaining connections with biological family isn’t safe or possible, but if you’re the only one standing in the way of a good relationship – don’t be

 

 

Possum Trot movie poster.