Terminator and the Foster Care System

TerminatorYou know how in Terminator 2, Sarah Connor knows the truth about Skynet and the future and Judgment Day and death and approaching mayhem and no one believes her?  She knows what’s coming, and she’s right.  So she fights for what she believes and is “rewarded” by losing custody of her son and being institutionalized.

Granted, this gives us one of the awesomest girl-power scenes of all time (pull-ups on the side of your bed in a State Hospital is about as tough as you can get).   But I sometimes feel for Sarah Connor as a foster parent.

Walk with me down this long, winding comparison:

Sarah’s hands get tied because she fights too hard for someone she loves.  (Ridiculous. As if that’s possible.) She’s fighting primarily against a bunch of government employees who are overworked and underpaid and just don’t have any more energy to care.  They no longer look at each situation – at each child – and feel empowered to say, “I can make a difference here.”

The weird part of my comparison, of course, is that I’m a foster parent and John Connor is IN foster care at this point in the movie.  Sarah Connor, his birth mom, is the one fighting the system.  But I think this further illustrates my point: the kids are the ones who so often lose in the foster care system.

Whether you’re a birth parent fighting your past or a foster parent fighting for a child’s best future, the system is the enemy.  People assume since I’m a foster parent, that I think adoption is the obvious problem-solver.  You’re wrong; each situation is unique and when reunification can happen, it’s a beautiful thing.  I have prayed steadfastly for the birth parents of children in my home to defeat their addictions and literally held my breath, whispering, please show up, please show up, as we waited for a weekly visit.

Skynet is the foster care system.  It took over a child’s life, promising to make things better and safer, and instead everything around them is blowing up.

Sarah Connor didn’t stop Judgment Day.  She tried, but knowing what’s coming doesn’t mean you can stop it.  For better or for worse, whatever the judge decides at court will be the future of this child. BUT…

The future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves! Despite John Connor’s rallying cry, I have good news: the future is set, it is secure.  God’s plan never fails. I don’t have to look at a child’s “judgment day” at court and fear that the wrong decision will be made, because it’s been The Plan all along.  Sarah’s best line sums it up: The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it with a sense of hope.

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Written by Kelley Rose Waller

Kelley has a B.A. in English and is an avid writer. She enjoys writing to offer others insights based on her own observations and life experiences including being a foster parent. You can find more of her writing on her personal blog at http://www.kelleyrosewaller.com/blog/. Kelley also writes fiction to imagine new life experiences. Her debut novel, The Senator’s Youngest Daughter, was released on October 1, 2016.

Kelley’s day job as a marketing strategist offers her the opportunity to write and plan for clients in diverse fields. Kelley is a ridiculous fan of science fiction and board games. She and her husband are foster parents and live in Lancaster PA with their three sons and their dog. Kelley lives and writes to uplift and glorify the name of Jesus Christ.