Last week, I participated in a fascinating, multidisciplinary roundtable discussion about the challenges professionals face in reunification cases. Specifically, when a parent wishes to establish a parent-child relationship when there is none and when a child refuses involvement with a parent.
When there is no existing parent-child relationship, the challenges involve introduction of a parent who a child may have had no knowledge of; when to disclose that this is a parent; and, establishing a relationship when there is no bond, especially when the time during which a child forms attachments has passed.
Child refusal often stems from alienation by one parent of the other; estrangement due a parent’s own behaviors, whether due to mental health, domestic violence, abuse, neglect, addiction, or other; and, a child’s natural alignment or affinity for one parent or other; and, conflict between the parents – or a combination of these. The challenges are many – parent compliance, access to mental health and reunification services, appropriate education for professionals, resources and affordability, and disconnects between the litigation and reunification processes – to name a few.
Undoubtedly, reunification takes time and requires both parents to be successful. While from 2009, “Second Chances – A Guidebook for Parents Wishing to Reunite with Their Children” is excellent resource for both parents involved in the reunification process.