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Foster Care Life

We talk about “in the best interest of the child,” you hear it in the news and in court from social workers and judges. What they don’t tell you about is the effect foster care has on a child and what that kind of life can do to you.

Can you imagine what it’s like to never have privacy? You aren’t even given a suitcase and your things can be searched at will. As a foster child all you are entitled to is food and the bare essentials. A child rarely gets new clothes and the ones that are bought are not normally what the child would chose or what the parents would have allowed.

Foster parents come in all shapes and sizes. It’s the luck of the draw really. The rules are never the same but they are always mandated, no discussion and always the threat of removal hangs over a child’s head. Who knows, the next place could be worse.

Foster Care Life

In one foster home you might be allowed to run the street until dark with no supervision. Another might use you as a babysitter for their own children. In still another you are the maid, dishes every night, garbage, dusting and odd jobs.

At one house you might have your own room but don’t count on it. As a child you sleep where you are told, even if it’s with a stranger. There is no one to comfort you if you have a bad dream. They might not leave a light on in the bathroom but hey that’s ok, who cares if you wake up in the middle of night without a clue where you are?

Different religion? Oh well, deal with it. Strange new schools with children of races you’ve never heard of before, let alone seen. One little white girl was sent to a new school, an 80% black school, no one cared that she had hardly ever seen a black person before. She was terrified.

Some foster parents drink, some go out at night only to leave you with another stranger. Your new foster parents might swear or fight. There is no one there to say, “it’s ok honey,” and “it will be all right.”

Even if the child manages to be returned home, the nightmare continues. With every knock at the door and every phone call the terror begins a new. The panic rises once again, sometimes lasting for days.

Some children just shut down and refuse to feel any thing any more. Psychologists will tell you that not all children react the same to their environment. Not all children are wired the same, yet we treat them all like they are dumb sheep being led to slaughter. They are expected to simply leave the only home they have ever known, the only family they have ever loved and live with complete strangers.

Before any child is ever removed from their home, there should be concrete proof that there is no alternative. Child protection workers are too quick to act, traumatizing children needlessly. This is serious business folks! Each time a child is removed from his or her home that child’s future has been irrevocably changed. No matter the results.

The only reason to allow this practice to continue is if we as a society are trying to destroy our own way of life. These damaged children are growing up and they have some serious problems.

The statistics tell us the majority of children raised in foster care don’t graduate from high school — few attend college. Most have bleak futures and are lucky if they don’t end up in jail or prison. Is this the future we want for these children? Changes must be made to protect and not further damage our children.

1 Comment

  1. Foster Parent

    I can certainly believe that all of the things you described about being in foster care have happened and still happen. But, as you wrote, foster parents come in all shapes and sizes. In my foster home, children have respect and dignity, and they are kept safe. We love these kids, and we try to help them heal. We are not perfect, but we are dedicated. And I know other homes like ours.

    I completely agree with you about the fact that each time a child is removed from his or her home, it is serious and irrevocably changes everything. It is traumatic. And, no matter how loved or well treated a foster child is, fear and pain and wounds….even SCARS…are the result.

    But please don’t make us the villains. Just as a parent would not wish to be unfairly accused of not caring properly for her children, I do not wish to be unfairly accused of the kinds of things you discussed in the first half of your article.

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