Jarvis Jay Masters

Jarvis Jay Masters is a former foster care youth and long time inmate on Death Row in San Quentin Prison. His story is now getting a lot of attention since Oprah chose his book That Bird Has My Wings for her book club. Rebecca Solnit has also taken up his cause and his Buddhist choice for sustenance has brought him additional attention. It may seem strange with so much attention given to his situation that I am only just now learning about him but I had read a book some months, maybe a year ago, about how unequal our criminal justice system is and how overwhelmingly unfair to black men. And as part of my learning about all things adoption, foster care has also come to my awareness many times.

He was born in 1962 in Long Beach, California. At the age of five, after watching his father almost beat his mother to death, while he tried to keep his sisters safe, he was taken by the system from her. The children were living in filth and hunger when they were finally found. Someone (perhaps the old lady who set out food for them) reported them to the cops, who brought in social services. The sight of how ragged their clothes were then led social services into their house. The situation was so bad they were removed from both the house and their parents.

This is how from the age of five, he was in and out of foster homes and institutions, enduring violence and trauma in a system meant to provide some measure of protection for him. Here is the story of one such memory of the kind of care he was receiving.

One morning when he was nine, while eating breakfast and hating the yolk from the fried eggs he had been fed. As he usually did, he went to dump that into the trash without his foster mother knowing he had done that. Only this time her daughter saw him. At the trash can, he was met by his foster mother’s hand as she hit his face. She had slapped him so hard, his ears rang and he could taste blood bubbling in his mouth. After that, she grabbed his head and stuffed his face down into the garbage, all the while yelling at him to find the eggs and eat them. During this abuse, he passed out.

I will make a long story shorter (you can read much more at the LINK> to the Free Jarvis website) – he ended up at the California Youth Authority, the last stop before adult prison. After his release, he soon found himself sentenced to 20 years in San Quentin Prison at the age of 19. Hooking up with a childhood friend of his uncle’s, he was involved in an armed robbery trying to grab sacks of money being collected by a store employee from the registers. He says, the whole scene was a disaster and in less than a day later, there were warrants out for their arrest, even charging them with crimes in towns he had never even heard of. Even so, he actually felt lucky to have been caught and thereby stopped as his life had spun so far out of control.

Four years after entering prison, a guard was killed and he was one of three charged in that crime. He was innocent as all of the other prisoners were well aware but a jury found him guilty of a conspiracy to murder and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. That is why he has spent more than 21 years in solitary confinement, which longer than any other prisoner in San Quentin history. A woman judge was assigned to the case, and this brought back memories that he had a woman judge the first time he was taken away from his mother.

When he was a child, he had been made a ward of the state as they told him, they only wanted to protect him but never did. Now, he found himself in the same kind of room, with dim buzzing lights, as the law was deciding how to kill him. He describes that life in San Quentin – “To find home in San Quentin I had to summon an unbelievable will to survive. The roaches, the filth plastered on the walls, the dirt balls on the floor, and the awful smell of urine left in the toilet for God knows how long sickened me nearly to the point of passing out.”

Now his Buddhism and his legal case, thanks to his writings, have made him a bit of a celebrity, perhaps on the verge of finally being acquitted, or at least pardoned, and released into freedom as a changed man with so much to offer others in similar circumstances to the ones his life brought him into. Wisdom gained at a great price.

Sadly, Money Often Rules

Today’s story (not directly my own but another mother’s – I was also made desperate by a lack of financial resources with my own young daughter and so I have a lot of empathy for these situations).

Here’s the other person’s experience – I was that young mother capable of parenting but due to a lack of resources, such as housing and just generally not being as monetarily stable as the prospective adoptive parents (foster parents after a child protective services intervention) it was never a question of IF I acted properly with my child, the only question was – who could provide more for him ?

She notes that it is so important to help women who are struggling similarly. I had people that had helped me along the way but I always wonder, what IF ? There are definitely pressures to sign a Termination of Parental Rights. It’s disgusting tactic used with young vulnerable mothers. Especially true with those who are actually capable of parenting. I wish I had some magic resource to help other women in that situation and make their lives easier. I’m glad that some of these mothers have a truly supportive person in their corner. Even if it is just the belief in a struggling young mother’s ability to be a good mother. That means more than she will ever be able to say to you.

Her story continues, in my own situation, I was so beat up and torn down by child protective services, that I eventually thought maybe I wasn’t what was best for my child. It was excruciating and tore my world apart. 

Never think something like this could never happen to good people because every day it does. We do not support families in this society as much as we should.

Mental Health and Regrets

An expectant mother says “I’m not sure with my mental health I can parent another child.” This is despite the fact, that she is a good parent to her first child and that child isn’t suffering. Does she really think giving away her baby is going to do wonders for her mental health? She may be the happy mommy for a while after doing, this with no regrets. But she can only lie to her self for so long. Eventually, she is likely to wake up and wonder wtf did I do?

One woman replied – I was this mother. I placed my 3rd. I had absolutely NO idea what it would do to me.. it absolutely broke me! I could barely function for almost 2 years. I don’t think people really understand what giving away a child means. Adoption is pushed as sunshine and rainbows in society, so I think we somewhat look at it in a positive light when we are contemplating making that choice. . But no it absolutely will NOT help your mental state in any way.

And she is alone, another one said – Me too. And yet another one said – Same with my third also. Fact is, it is the rare person who won’t realize they exchanged one set of mental health issues for another and this one lasts a lifetime for yourself, the child, other children, etc…Then this, my mental health took a nose dive after adoption. Mentally I always struggled but since then, I have been in and out of behavioral health facilities and have made 3 suicide attempts. Someone else thought – it’s a way to delay the trauma and people should be honest that all you’re doing is delaying it and compounding it later.

On that last note, came this reply – i think that also delays trauma for many in a different way, too sadly. Granted each can choose for themselves but I have supported friends who have chosen this route for a variety of reason and again, they weren’t supported after or informed of just what an emotional roller coaster it can take you on, for a VERY long time.

Now I get that’s not for everyone and some may not be as impacted by it, but my friends who have (and many were moms already) came to me and told me, they wished they had listened to me (because I told them – I’m not sure it’s going to help in the ways that you believe it would help) and many were seriously already struggling (hence not feeling able to add another kid) and they didn’t think they could nose dive further but many have. In fact, one reached out this week to me talking about how 2 years after, she still regrets it and wishes she had listened to me.

I believe support for people who go this route is lacking and very much needed – many are left to deal with it in silence and it’s a dirty secret and they have guilt and shame, which contributes to more issues they have in the long run because they don’t have a proper healing outlet to deal with all the feelings and even physical stuff sometimes after (my one girlfriend ended up with an infection and needed to be hospitalized which compounded the trauma).

Finally, this – If there are reasons causing these feelings they usually stem from trauma and lack of support – and if those were addressed, it would be still hard to parent (cuz lets be real – its hard!!) but when you have a better support system vs a system working against you (like Child Protective Services or whatever). I said to my original mom recently, what happened after Termination of Parental Rights ? She jumped at the judge when he said they weren’t her kids now, they were HIS. She spent the night IN JAIL after losing her kids. 

Family Just Ought To Come First

My family is fractured by adoption but thankfully, those who went away have reunited with the rest of us and those we never knew are better known now thanks to those who did know my original grandparents. So, today’s unbelievable but true story.

Looking to find sources to help bring my cousin home. We have signed an intent to adopt and filled out licensing paperwork to adopt my 18 month old cousin. He has been in care 15 months and we only found out about this the last week in June. On July 1st, I started emailing the case worker asking for placement and expressing our interest in adopting, if it came to that. I got no reply. On July 11th, the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) happened. I emailed everyday after expressing our interest and explaining we were already licensed to foster. We finally got to have a visit with him on Aug 1st and again, this past Friday via zoom. We have virtual bi-weekly visits set up because we are 10 hours away. We are the first members in our family to get to see him aside from mom and dad since he has been in care. The agency has made it clear that the foster parents have also signed an intent to adopt, so we are viewed as a competing party to them. They have now had him for almost 7 months. There is a post TPR hearing this week. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) said it will probably only be a 10 min hearing and that probably nothing will happen at that hearing. The agency has made it clear they don’t plan on changing his placement until they give a recommendation regarding who they feel the best family fit is to adopt him and gives consent, then the judge orders the child’s placement. Please help If you can.

The response from a former foster care youth – It pisses me off foster parents do this and the state supports foster parents doing this. My heart hurts that so many kids miss out on being with family. My advice is don’t believe and never believe foster parents, the GAL, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), caseworker, or anyone else in the system. They’re all for themselves. Don’t believe in the “child is bonding” crap either. They use this to keep kids and adopt them out to strangers. Don’t fall for the open adoption crap either. I agree with hiring a lawyer. I wanted to comment and say “I’m sorry”. I’m sorry you can’t get your cousin and I’m sorry foster parents and the state are selfish people. If the child is a child they are willing to disrupt, a perceived bond won’t matter, if that is disrupted again. I missed out on being with family because Child Protective Services (CPS) didn’t care, even though I did go back. However, I could’ve avoided 24 foster homes if CPS did their jobs and placed me with family. Nobody understands the trauma they’re putting kids through by not keeping them with family.

Safe Families For Children

This organization was recommended to a woman going through a crisis as she is attempting to escape domestic violence by moving to another state. She is currently homeless with a 4 year old child. She worries they will become a target for Child Protective Services. A bit of her story –

A family friend had said that we would have a place to stay but when we got there, they said we couldn’t stay because my son was “too noisy.” He has autism spectrum disorder and is vocally pretty loud. We slept in our car the first couple of nights and then started camping. I tried to make it a fun summer adventure at first but recently we have started to get run out of campgrounds, even though we haven’t overstayed our allowed time. We are assumed to be homeless (which we are, but I don’t go around announcing it). I just found a job and someone willing to watch my son during work. It is all so overwhelming. I haven’t started yet but I can’t even figure out how to get work clothes, gas, even the fingerprints process done – all while living in my car with my little guy. I’m afraid I’ll end up losing the opportunity to work but actually my biggest fear is having my son taken away.

NOTE – Walking away takes a tremendous amount of courage. Taking your child with you to safety shows integrity and good parenting.

Some advice – look for “Women’s Shelters,” “domestic abuse shelters” and organizations that provide shelters specifically for mothers with children. They can give you an address that would satisfy an employer. There is a LINK> National Domestic Violence Hotline. Another suggestion was the LINK> Bridge of Hope program, which serves families without discrimination, extending compassion and grace without judgement to families facing homelessness. Bridge of Hope has no faith or church attendance requirement or expectations.

LINK> Safe Families For Children is an organization that serve families in crisis. Basically prescreened families host kids for a short term in order to keep them out of the foster care system. Safe Families For Children serves families who lack social networks and live in isolation without support of family and friends who are dealing with crises such as homelessness, unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence, medical emergencies and alcohol/drug rehabilitation.

Ethics In Adoption

Adoption is a BIG Business

From an adoption community post –

There is an economy at work in adoption.

Let’s begin with adoption agencies –

An adoption agency connects hopeful adoptive parents with expectant mothers in crisis who may wish to relinquish their child for adoption. In the process of negotiating, the adoption agency receives money from the hopeful adoptive parents (in most cases), and sometimes (rarely) from expectant mothers. The money is used to pay for the associated legal fees, the matching service, and sometimes for care for the expectant mother. This money also pays the salaries of the agency employees. This is true even if the agency is listed as a “not for profit” agency. The employees, social workers, and directors are not working for free.

Hopeful adoptive parents reach out to agencies for help in finding an available child (usually an infant) to adopt. There are 40 hopeful adoptive parents (couples/families) for every infant available for adoption. That is an estimate, some say it may be as high as 1,000 hopeful adoptive parents for every infant who becomes available for adoption.

If you look on websites and in social media, an expectant mother who indicates anywhere that she is considering adoption, will receive hundreds, often thousands, of responses from people who would like to adopt her baby. The demand far exceeds the supply of infants available for adoption. In the leaked Supreme Court draft written by Alito he makes a note of that lack of supply.

So, let’s apply the law of supply and demand –

In order for an agency (which, whether for profit or not for profit, stands to make money from the transaction) to keep itself in business, the agency must provide a certain percentage of infants for the demand. When supply is low and demand is high, coercion enters into these transactions. Agencies must obtain children for their market and are willing to do whatever it takes to supply that market. Social workers and agency contacts do whatever it takes to convince an expectant mother that one of their adoptive couples is better for her child, than she could ever be.

If she receives any money from the agency to cover her expenses but then decides she wants to parent, they will call her a “scammer” or a “fraud.” In many states there is no revocation period during which a woman who has given birth but indicated she is willing to give up her baby can change her mind. Those are considered “adoption-friendly” states Some have short revocation periods. In many cases, social workers pressure expectant mothers to hand their babies over and sign their termination of parental rights, while the new mother is still within the first 48 hours after birth.

Coercive tactics are part and parcel of domestic infant adoption. International infant adoption is even more coercive and heinous because some parents are not even told that their legal rights to their child are being severed.

So, what about the children in foster care ? They’ve already had their parental rights severed. Some hopeful adoptive parents believe they are only motivated to help these unfortunate children. But there’s an economy at work there too. You can be forgiven for not knowing that, thanks to the many promotions of this method of adoption by various states. A federal stipend is paid to foster parents for children of all ages, from under a year old until they age out of the foster care system at 18.

In 1997, the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) went into effect. Its purpose was to achieve permanency for children who had been in foster care for a long period of time by having them adopted. The intent of the law was good: permanent placements for children who had been abused, neglected, or abandoned. Its implementation, however, has proven faulty. It has amplified the corruption that has always been endemic within the Child Protective Services system.

The ASFA provides federal stipends to state agencies for each adoption they process out of foster care. Because the states receive money for having children adopted out of foster care, they now have a financial incentive to take children from actually SAFE families and place them into foster homes, so that they can be adopted. The more recent Family First Prevention Services Act includes federal funds to pay for services aimed at preventing the use of foster care by providing better support to parents at risk of losing custody of their children.

Regarding the current concept of “Foster to Adopt” –

Foster parents already receive a generous stipend from the state for caring for the state’s ward. Often, a foster parent will even receive an infant fresh from the hospital due to “risk of future harm” from their parents. These infants are placed with foster parents whose aim is to adopt. Both the foster parents (who wanted to adopt an infant) and the state child protection agency (which receives federal monies for every adoption from foster care) stand to gain from the adoption of this infant “out of foster care.”

The economic implications of adoption are the most straightforward and fact-based way to address whether ethical adoption is even possible. To whatever degree this all matters to you personally – consider the social impact of adoption and the reasons why adoption is considered unethical based upon social reasons.

Include in your considerations why children are removed by protective agencies simply due to perceived neglect caused only by poverty. Consider how it is possible that stipend money paid to them somehow makes foster caregivers more fit to parent than the biological parents. Look into the statistics for suicide and mental health issues among adoptees. Contemplate why laws promote adoption rather than legal guardianship.

Adoption is a contract made between two people – in which a third person is subjected to its ramifications – without their consent. Thank you for contemplating the ethical ramifications of adoption and the use by the state of foster care to increase adoptions.

The Hardest Thing

To give birth under an assumed name and then walk away leaving the baby behind. Clearly it was the plan before the baby was born. The mother has yet to be identified or found. Child Protective Services has now placed the baby girl in a foster home. After being there for a year, they will want this couple to adopt the baby girl.

The only thing the mother left behind was a box with a toy and a note that says “the hardest thing I have ever went through, is missing you”. If the mother were to be found and come back for her baby, of course, reunification of the mother and infant would be the obvious goal.

But if the mother does not return, how will her adoptive parents explain to the little girl what happened ? The current foster mom definitely will not say – “she loved you so much, she gave you away”.

Suggestions –

Find a therapist to help you navigate what will be a lifelong process. Words matter and age appropriate are critical. You have a big job ahead of you – do all you can to do it well.

DNA testing as soon as possible to identify members of the natural family and get in contact with them. It’s unlikely to find nothing. Many people take DNA tests. Even a cousin can point you in the right direction.

In answer to the question of what to tell others about the child, some practical advice – A child in your care ? A kid who lives with you ? That’s what she is right now. Asking what to tell her if or when you adopt her is putting the cart before the horse. You should be doing everything you can to prevent that from happening, including a permanent legal guardianship. Did you see the recent case in Michigan where a mother didn’t tell the father that she placed the baby? You need to slow this process way down, so you can be sure this child doesn’t have family out there who want to take care of her.

The Dept of Social Services is going to be working to find the mom. There are many reasons she may have felt she had to do this. Maybe she’s in an abusive relationship or fears harm to the baby. It is not uncommon for some mothers to fear they can’t care for a baby. Good to hope they do find her and are able to help her.

At this point, no one actually knows the mother’s story. That matters.

As for the child’s story – always tell her the truth. You don’t know why the mother chose what she did. So if the child asks – you say, I don’t know. “I don’t know honey, sometimes people make decisions and we don’t know why.” “You are safe and cared for and loved and we will support you no matter what.” Follow up with a trauma informed therapist and let take the therapist take it from there. Explain that she can talk with you about it. Never sugar coat or tell her things you don’t know. Tell her what you know. Facts. You can do it age appropriately. It is her story. This is the reality.

Begin a Lifebook for her, so that she doesn’t have to ask. Work with a trauma informed therapist on how to word her story in a way that she can understand at various ages (perhaps include photos of the hospital room and certainly of the note and toy, the box they were in) and keep the story about her (not about you or your thoughts or feelings).  Practicing the story before the kid is old enough to ask will help avoid it becoming a big secret or something scary.

Read The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier. It is perspective changing.

Coping With Reality

Mental health issues cause a lot of the removals of children from their parents. It is true that families lose their children to Child Protective Services because they are struggling with mental health and poverty.

We do have a mental health crisis in America. Many therapists only serve the 4Ws- Wealthy Worried White Women. Some people can’t access mental health care at all. Other people are ridiculed for needing mental health care, and so they won’t get help because they are embarrassed. Reaching out for help needs to become more acceptable in every day life. We need more mental health supports to address these issues, regardless of age, race, sexual oriented, socio-economic status or rural/urban location.

One person admitted – I was told I must not have financial issues if I can afford to smoke. That isn’t true. I can’t afford actual mental healthcare. Yes, my nicotine calms me down. Is it healthy? No. Do I want to stop? Yes. Don’t judge poor people for having addictions to cope with life. If they drove a Lexus, it would just be mommy wine culture that helped them cope.

One truthful response –  it’s easier to point out and shame someone else’s addiction, rather than deal with your own more socially acceptable addiction.

How To Help

Question: (Background info: we live in a low income neighborhood. Neighbor is a single mom with 3 young children. Child Protective Services (CPS) has a habit of meddling in the business of poor families)

2 days ago, a CPS caseworker knocked on my door. She told me she has been trying to talk to our next door neighbor, but she hasn’t been opening the door when she knocks. She kept asking me questions about the neighbor and trying to get information (How many kids does she have? Do you ever hear yelling? Do the kids look well fed? Does she leave the kids by themselves? Do different men come and go? etc etc)

I said I have no clue to all her questions. (I just came home from college 2 weeks ago so I was telling the truth.) She then starts telling me personal information about her “investigation” that made me so uncomfortable that I cut her off and said, “I’m running late and have to leave.” She hands me her business card and asks me to call her if I see them outside or pulling into their garage, so she can “zoom over and bust them.” (Her words, not mine. Not a chance I would call her back anyway.)

Now, what to do ? I know that CPS will insert themselves into the littlest things in order to take children away from their mothers. What would you do in this situation? Would you go over and let Mom know that CPS is watching? I was thinking of going over there and explaining exactly what the case worker asked me and what kind of car she drove. I’m nervous because we don’t ever talk. I don’t want her to think I’m working for CPS or that I was the one who reported them. Maybe a letter ? But then, she could just check her ring camera and see it was me anyway. I might as well have an actual conversation. Do you think she already knows ? Should I just stay out of it entirely ?

I have no idea.

Suggestion:

Absolutely go talk to mom. Please please give her a heads up and tell her everything. Help the mom address any issues that could arise. Let her know that she can trust you. Offer to help her get her house “home inspection ready”, just in case. Make sure mom knows her rights with CPS.

Also, report the caseworker who was freely giving out private information to a complete stranger. At the very least, gossiping about your case is extremely poor ethics.

Example of a Home Inspection – Check List

Torn Apart by Dorothy Roberts

The horror stories regarding Child Protective Services (CPS) abound in my all things adoption group which includes former foster care youth. So when I read about Dorothy Roberts new book Torn Apart in Time magazine last night, I knew I would write about this for my blog today. Roberts believes that CPS needs to be abolished and she has found that it is shockingly easy for CPS to destroy poor, Black families. I would add ANY poor family. However, racial inequality and systemic racism are real.

Mother Jones has published an excerpt which begins with the story of a young mother who has health challenges, is married and has two young sons. Her family lives with her mother and everyone pitches in to care for the rambunctious little boys. The family was enjoying a picnic in a park in Aurora, Colorado.

When my own sons were very young, I lived in fear that some do-gooder would misunderstand some situation and report us. There is a Simpson’s episode where this happens to Bart, Lisa and Maggie and they are taken away and given to the Flanders family as temporary caregivers while Home and Marge struggle against the system. I would refer to that episode with my sons so that they would not exhibit some overly challenging behavior in public that would end with unintended consequences.

So it was that this woman’s 2 yr old ran after her cousin as she was leaving. The mother grabbed the 4 yr old and ran after her son. Before the mother could reach him, a woman who happened to be passing by had snatched the young boy by the arm, worried that he was wandering off. The mom could see the woman talking on her cell phone as she and her other son approached. When she caught up to them, only a minute later, she told the stranger holding her child, “Ma’am, that’s my son.” But the woman refused to let him go. She had called 911 to report that the boy was unattended.

Before the policeman who responded left, after the woman’s relatives gathered around to affirm that she actually was his mother, he gave her a ticket for child abuse and reckless endangerment. A month later, as the mom was cleaning up in the basement, her husband gone to work and her mother at a doctor’s appointment, the Social Services Department white caseworker accompanied by a Black female trainee, unexpectedly knocked on the front door, part of a surprise follow up from the citation issued.

The boys were in the front room, the 2 yr old still naked as he had just been bathed. When the mom did not immediately answer the door, the caseworker called for police assistance. Two male officers arrived first, soon followed by a female officer. The caseworker asserted the 2 yr old was neglected as he stood looking at them through the front window.

After the officers entered the house, without a warrant or permission, the mom became angry at the way she was being confronted so aggressively. She called her mother at the doctor’s office and asked, “Mom, can you get here, I got fucking social services and the goddamn police here, they’re really pissing me off.” Two of the officers then engaged the mom in an increasingly combative exchange.

The woman’s mother had arrived and had taken the boys to their bedroom, guarded by an officer who would not let the boy’s mom join them. One officer lunged at the mom and violently pushed her face down into a large beanbag on the living room floor. The female officer and a fifth officer now on the scene now assisting him, pinned her arms were yanked behind her back, cuffed her wrists and cuffed, restrained her head and shoulders. Two more officers arrived, bringing the total count to seven.

Then, they restrained the mom with a hobble—hand and ankle cuffs that shackled her wrists behind her back and chained them to her shackled legs and carried her off to a police car, her stomach and face toward the ground. She cried, “I can’t breathe,” and so, paramedics were called and her restraints loosened by order of a sergeant who had also now arrived.

The officer reports varied as to the condition of the house from “in fair condition with food” to “very dirty, with no food in the refrigerator, and very little food in the pantry.” On the advice of her public defender, the mom pleaded guilty (many legal cases today never reach court but end in plea deals) to child abuse and reckless endangerment to avoid prison and was ordered to take parenting classes and sentenced to one year of probation. Before the first incident in the park, the mom had never been in trouble with the law. Now she had a record as a child abuser. Her attorney was later able to obtain a monetary settlement from the police department for excessive use of force.

The mom was now ensnared in a giant state machine with the power to destroy her family. With the threat of child removal at its core, the child welfare system regulates a massive number of families. In 2019 alone, CPS agencies investigated the families of 3.5 million children, ultimately finding abuse or neglect only in one-fifth of cases, or for the families of 656,000 children. Yet the families of these children are put through an indefinite period of intensive scrutiny by CPS workers and judges who have the power to keep children apart from their parents for years or even to sever their family ties forever.

In the Time magazine article by Janell Ross, on the racial disparities in the child welfare system, interviewing Dorothy Roberts, she notes that more than half, 53%, of all Black children will experience a child-welfare investigation by the time they reach the age of 18, compared with less than a third of white children. However, white children from very impoverished areas, such as rural Appalachia, also experience extreme amounts of state involvement. Black children are more likely than white children to be taken from their families and put in foster care. They’re less likely to go on to college and more likely to end up in prison.

I completely agree with her – our society does not support families well enough. She notes income support, health care, affordable housing, an equal, high-quality education would keep most of these children out of foster care. She asks, why is child welfare’s response to the greater needs of Black children this very violent, traumatic approach of family separation ?

The facade of benevolence associated with Child Protective Services makes most Americans complacent about this colossal government apparatus that spends billions of dollars annually on surveilling families, breaking them apart, and thrusting children into a foster care system known to cause devastating harms. Dorothy Roberts notes – after 25 years of studying family separation as a legal scholar and author, I’m convinced that the mission of CPS agencies is not to care for children or protect their welfare. Rather, they respond inadequately and inhumanely to our society’s abysmal failures. Far from promoting the well-being of children, the state weaponizes children as a way to threaten families, to scapegoat parents for societal harms to their children, and to buttress the racist status quo.