May is Foster Care Month. On Guam, what does that mean? It means the governor signs a proclamation citing how many children are in need of the love and care that their biological parents cannot provide for various reasons.
Various churches and organizations highlight the need for foster parents and hand out flyers. We all laud the 40 active foster families on our island (as of this writing), and tell each other how amazing and loving they are for bringing children in need of a chance at life into their homes and families.
To me, foster parenting is the ultimate pro-life stance.
Here are some more pro-life statistics for all of us. Forty active foster families are now housing 76 of the 406 children that our Department of Public Health and Social Services’ Child Protective Services Unit has in its foster care system.
· Of those 406 children, minus the 76 in the foster homes:
· 202 are in relative placement;
· 52 in non-relative placement;
· 47 are in the parents’ physical custody;
· 5 are in treatment facilities;
· 5 are at the Department of Youth Affairs;
· 10 are in Alee Shelter; and
· 9 are at Sanctuary.
Also provided in the information from CPS is that this year they’ve had a whopping total of three inquiries from families interested in becoming foster families and they’ve issued three applications to other families.
They’ve got one adoption court case ongoing and one adoption inquiry, and one court custody case.
Of course, this is a multifaceted issue, involving children having babies, parents dealing with drug and/or alcohol abuse or some other form of addiction, and/or children experiencing horrific abuse, either physical, sexual, or both.
The ultimate goal of CPS is to reunify families. But if we had more families willing to foster or adopt, I would advocate that courts not keep giving troubled parents multiple chances to get their lives together so that they could get their children back.
Why? Because if foster care stretches into three, four, five years, is it really in the best pro-life interest of that child to yank the child from those who are often the only loving parents they have known, just because it has taken the biological parents so long to get their act together? Of course not.
The system may lean toward reunification, generally within two years. But if the parents cannot get it together within two years, the court should terminate their parental rights so you don’t leave the children and their foster parents, who hopefully by this time want to adopt them, in limbo.
The lives of these children should be the primary focus. They are the ones who need love and guidance to break whatever cycle they’ve been born into. The parents, most of the time, have had their shot. Adoptions can be open, meaning the child can know their biological parents and have a relationship with them as long as it is safe for the child.
This final statistic from CPS is approximate. I am told that most foster families on Guam are either military families or families affiliated with Baptist or other churches. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if many of our Catholic pro-life families would join in this mission?
Foster care and adoption are the ultimate pro-life activities. These two options certainly seem more productive than holding up signs on street corners early in the morning until the sun becomes too hot. Advocating that all conceptions result in live births should certainly lead to wanting to help those babies born into circumstances under which they are taken away from their biological parents. Because the question is: When these babies are taken away, what happens to them? Who loves and nurtures them? Who are their pro-life advocates?
If you are interested in becoming a foster family, please call 475-2653. CPS regularly conducts virtual sessions about foster care. If you are interested in adopting an infant or a child who needs a loving home, you can call CPS or
Ohala Adoptions, a non-profit adoption organization on Guam, at 688-4673, or check out their website at http://ohalaadoptions.org/.
Over 400 children in need of loving homes. Forty foster homes, each averaging two foster children. On Guam, our pro-life stance definitely needs some work.
Jayne Flores is the director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and a long-time journalist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.