I recently reconnected with a person I knew in college, thanks to Facebook. Isn’t it great that I can google someone I haven’t seen in years and voila!, there’s my friend from Helser Hall?! Gotta love social networking! (And an entirely new vernacular, I might add.)
I’ve looked for this person a few times in the last several years, and always turned up empty handed. I was prompted to look again when someone from high school friended me on Facebook. A page had been started by a former classmate and people from my high school class were friending each other right and left.
As I was reflecting on my good fortune in finding my friend from college, I started thinking about all the people left behind. It wasn’t necessarily intentional. It just happens. It led me to think of all the connections children/youth in foster care lose along the way. Sometimes it is their parents or guardians. Sometimes it is their siblings, cousins, or other peers. Either way, it is very distressing to think about kids going through life without those people that are biologically related to them. Good or bad, family is family. And everyone should have the option of remaining connected to family.
And then there are the foster parents and foster brothers and sisters who fade in and out of the lives of foster children. I did an interview with Lynn Price of Camp to Belong some time ago and we talked about the significance of these relationships for children and the importance of supporting their continuation. The child welfare system creates ‘artificial’ families with ‘artificial’ brothers and sisters who share their lives for a short time (or long), and then go on their own way. What does this do to an already fragile psyche of a child who has been through the trauma of placement in foster care? It is no wonder that attachment disorders are common among children in out-of-home care.
I hope that social media provides opportunities for people to maintain those connections. Of course, there are going to be challenges. Confidentiality and safety immediately come to mind. And I would hope that those working in child welfare systems find ways to utilize technology and social media to keep pace with the times and identified needs of children and youth in care.
That’s all I’m saying.
And by the way, if you are interested, the person with whom I reconnected is a Lori Parrott, who works in a field entirely unrelated to child welfare (maybe geology but I’m not certain-yet). Another bonus — depending on the size of the college and its offerings there is the potential for connections to many different interests/fields of study. Iowa State University had/has lots of variety, thankfully! And you might take this as a caution….connecting with me might result in your being mentioned in my blog. 🙂