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No Where To Turn

Most states have safe haven laws on the books, permitting a new parent to drop off an infant at a local fire department or hospital without repercussions. This is a laudable service that I am certain has had a positive impact on more than one infants life over the years.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is why more services are not available for older children. Are infants more deserving of our help? Are they more valuable to society?

We spent billions of dollars each year on foster care “services” paying strangers, who have been licensed by the state (Which should mean the state is responsible for their actions but doesn’t always.) to care for children placed in their care by other strangers, who really do not have a clue what that child needs. However, does that really matter?

Apparently not, because it happens every day.

I am not denying that not every mother or father is a good one, drugs can mess up a family in a hurry, turning an otherwise okie dokie parent, into a total loser and often, worse. Nevertheless, that is another story.

I know one mother personally; she is what I like to call a yeller. She is not abusive, she loves her child but she yells so much that the kids cannot hear a word she says. The son started smoking marijuana around the age of 13. He refused to observe his curfew, refused to attend school and to make matters worse the police were not any help at all.

She tried to find help. This mother-spent weeks calling around, trying to find some kind of help for her son and her family. She heard the same story repeatedly; her husband made too much money to qualify for any help and they did not make enough money to afford the help he needed. She was beside herself trying to figure out what she was going to do.

This is true of many families – especially in today’s economic crisis. Money problems bring on stress related illnesses; add a job loss or a medical emergency and the stress levels only escalate. Many individuals are not equipped to handle these kinds of stress levels. The may turn to illegal drug use, alcohol, marijuana, and even prescription painkillers for relief. Prescription pain medication can become the drug of choice, simply because state medical benefits cover doctors’ visits and pain medication. Prescription pain medications are easy to get and can often be obtained at no cost to the patient.

Drug use leads to illegal activity because – well, money was already short – now there simply isn’t any money left. Those hooked will even sell their food stamps, putting the children in crisis too.

What we see is a general spiral downward, each bad decision leads to another, creating a crisis situation that even the most skilled individual would struggle to find a solution to. Removing the child is rarely the best solution, foster care, and adoption are not the answer and I’ll tell you why. It is the rare exception to the rule, when an adopted child assimilates into their new surroundings. Many adoptees spend years searching for their “real parents’ and even if they find them, they are often ill-prepared to deal with reality.

My stepson was adopted by his natural mom’s second husband, he was only 18-months old at the time. His adopted father was the only father he had ever known, yet, he never felt like he belonged with our family, so we sent him to live with his natural mother. He did not do well there either. Today this boy is over 30 and still searching for his natural father.

My late husband was adopted as a child; he spent years searching for his natural parents. When he found them, he was not prepared to deal with what he found. Not only were his adoptive parents alcoholics, but so were his natural parents. He had nine brothers and sisters by six different fathers and none of them were what you would call law-abiding citizens.

I have several other individuals in my close family who have been adopted and not one of them grew up happy and well adjusted, and I find that very sad.

There are children out there who are able to be helped and it grieves me – it should grieve us all when a child is needlessly harmed.

Years ago, when I was in foster care, foster parents were not allowed to adopt a child who had been placed there. It seemed like such a stupid rule at the time but today I can see why we had that protection. Foster parents who are interested in adopting a child would have the opportunity and motive to manipulate a child who is solely under their control.

These same foster parents could provide false or damning accounts of the natural parents to child protection authorities, causing them to have their rights terminated falsely. Foster parents are paid keepers. If they have a problem with a child, they have access to just about any type of services you can imagine. The money all comes out of our social security funding. Oh, you thought that money was only doled out to retirees – think again.

What is a parent to do when…

  • you have finally found work but you have a five year old at home and no one to watch him?
  • you find yourself homeless and you have a 12 year old to care for?
  • you are married to an abusive spouse and you have four children, the oldest is 8 years old?
  • your son stays out all night partying with his friends and refuses to attend school. The school has scheduled a truancy hearing and you will lose your job if don’t show up for work.

These are everyday worries that parents are forced to deal with, often with no help at all. Why is it that foster parents are entitled to the help a natural parent can’t possibly obtain for a child that desperately needs help. This is a gross inequity and just exactly what we can expect when the state is footing the bill. You know the old adage, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

  • What if we wrote a law that required professionals to assist families in need rather than simply report them to the authorities?
  • What if each state mandated specific services be provided, to a family before a child could be removed from the home?
  • Why can’t we provide clean, affordable housing to families in crisis?
  • Why can’t we offer training, counseling services, parenting classes, and drug rehab that doesn’t take an act of God to get into?
  • Why can’t we provide 24-hour safe houses, where a parent can obtain emergency services such as babysitting, meals and real help?
  • Why isn’t everyone mad as hell over this greedy, God forsaken mess we call “Child Protective Services”.

I don’t have all the answers but I have some really good questions, without good answers. Why are we throwing away our tax dollars on a system that we know damages children – many are scarred for life from the experience.

I know that if our communities would come together and make helping families their priority; we could help these innocent children by aiding their needy parents. We can heal our nation by lending a helping hand – one family at a time.

Please write, call or visit your state and federal representatives. Ask them the hard questions. Then ask them again. Don’t stop until you get real answers. If we aren’t willing to stand up for the children and our families, no one else will.

Please participate in the Mother’s Day protest or silent vigil. Let your voice be heard.


  1. Anonymous

    Annette:I hope you get to read Richard Wexler's blog today and post his experiences on Michigan in your Family News segments.As you state, we know FOSTER CARE is demonstrably inadequate.Let us hope that the 2008 Federal bill "Fostering Success and Increasing Adoptions" Act will keep families together by encouraging and funding KIN CARE.Hope you can bring your talents to EXPLAINING this bill and how it relates to TPR's.Thanks for all you do for CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.

  2. Annette M. Hall

    Your wish has been granted. 🙂 I love to read Richard Wexler's work. Just as soon as I get the time to work on this legislation I will but my time has been really limited lately and I hate not being able to spend more time on this. I know that children and families are counting on us, which is why I've been working to make the site more user friendly and I'm requesting help from every person willing.It's going to take all of our efforts — no one can fix this problem alone.I hope everyone will join in the fight and do what they can to lend a helping hand. Thank you so much for mentioning Richard's article, it was an easy find. Feel free to pass along current news items, it helps me keep everyone informed.God Bless your efforts!

  3. Annette M. Hall

    There is a big "Contact: Webmaster" button at the bottom of each page. You can find me there. 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    PARTIAL LIST OF LAW CLINICS AND ORGANIZATIONS IN THE US TO HELP FAMILIES: has recently started a program which is linked on above site.National Coalition for parents and CPS.One of the programs they are enthusiastic about is the "Parents as Partners" program where parents who have successfuly combatted some of the issues which led them to CPS attention—drug abuse, for example are mentored by parents who have triumphed over their addiction.Caseworkers are not empathic enough, have little understanding of the culture and are simply book trained. As in NA, AA, OA the best help comes from PEERS.In fact, there is a whole school of social work devoted to PEER HELP.CPS has grown so fast, that truly innocent parents have been targeted. And that is truly unfortunate, because when you lose the MIDDLE CLASS SUPPORT, DUE TO WHOLESALE DISTRUST OF GOVERNMENT, you are truly " cutting off your nose to spite your face " as my Mom would preach.Again, thanks to the courageous folk who have helped many to learn their rights, and who have helped children, whom I have observed and counseled due to CPS' wrongul, misplaced, and ineffective in my role as a professional.Many teens spoke to me regarding their angst when confronted with DCF, DYFS, DHS.And I have seen a foster Mom MURDERED in my town.Chaos respects no one.

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