Adoption Issues On Facebook

Ten years ago, there was an article in The Guardian which the title “Facebook has changed adoption for ever.” The sub-title was “Social network sites like Facebook are changing what happens after adoption. At the click of a button, birth parents can contact their children – and vice versa – with far-reaching consequences.” I would add inexpensive DNA testing via Ancestry and 23 and Me have done as much.

The lead-in on that article noted – “Adoption is undergoing a revolution. Until recently, it has been a closely managed process, with social workers going to enormous lengths to protect children placed with adoptive families from inappropriate contact with birth relatives.” That was always the argument but never the truth. The truth was that social workers and adoption agencies were protecting the adoptive parents from the intrusion of the natural bond between the original parent and their child. There certainly have been “. . . cases of adopted young people being contacted by birth parents through Facebook. There are even more instances in which the approach is initiated by adopted young people themselves, who are curious about their birth families.” You can read that rest of that decade old perspective at the link above.

Now today, another one. This one published in Wired titled Adoption Moved to Facebook and a War Began and raising the hackles of some in my most important (though I do belong to several) adoption related support group at Facebook. The sub-title notes – As the adoption industry migrates to social media, regretful adoptees and birth mothers are confronting prospective parents with their personal pain—and anger. I do see these in my support group. In fact, adoptees are the “privileged” voices there.

This is true to the best of my own knowledge on the subject – “The adoption industry has never been very well regulated, and there is a history of certain firms engaging in unethical practices. But when agencies were the primary facilitators of adoption, they could at least perform basic vetting of birth mothers and adoptive parents and manage complex legal processes. The open marketplace of the web removed that layer of oversight.” Wired refers to people in adoption support groups as anti-adoption but then goes on to note that these are older women who, as “unwed mothers” in the 1950s and ’60s, were forced to give babies up for adoption; women whose churches still pressure them to give up children born outside of marriage; adoptees who want to overturn laws in 40 states that deny them unrestricted access to their original birth certificates. These are legitimate experiences and desires that do not in themselves constitute being anti-adoption.

However, as understanding of the deep sub- and un- conscious trauma that adoptees experience and the lifelong regret that mothers who surrendered their children to adoption as a permanent solution to a temporary situation are increasing shared openly or privately in groups that maintain anonymity, as my dominant choice does, there is a desire to limit the number of adoptions that do take place. There are recommendations for kinship guardianship whenever possible, for true efforts on the part of foster parents to assist the original parents in successfully navigating the child welfare requirements for reunification with their own children and that at the least, when adoption seems somehow the only alternative left – allowing the child to retain their original identity by NOT changing their name nor creating a new “false” birth certificate the creates the impression that the adoptive parents gave birth to that child.

These are reasonable attempts at reform.

In the movement Wired identifies are a wide range of perspectives. Some recognize the value of adoption in certain circumstances and have specific goals, like improving federal oversight, eliminating practices that are coercive to birth mothers, or giving them more time to reverse a decision to give up a child. Others see adoption as wrong most of the time – in my group it is NOT as Wired indicates “in all cases” – but there is a recognition that the natural bond between a biological mother and her child is a reality. Some are finding community and expressing feelings of anger and pain for the first time; birth mothers describe pressure, regret, and lifelong mourning for the children they gave up, while adoptees talk about their sense of estrangement and about not knowing their medical history. Certainly, poverty plays a role in children being removed from their parents and placed for adoption.

Wired does proach the topic of the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). The article notes that TPR has been called the “civil death penalty,” because of its severity and finality. It is overwhelmingly levied against poor families. Some children are taken away from parents who abuse them horribly—and others who should be removed are not and die at the hands of abusers. Nationally, the majority of children are removed from their homes by child protective services not for abuse but neglect, which can be a more subjective state. Neglect can mean a child was left in a hot car for hours or that a child’s parent is an addict. Or it can mean that a child was alone at home while their mother worked an overnight shift or went to the store, or that there’s not enough food in the fridge. In other words, poverty can create conditions that lead to neglect, and the exigencies of poverty can also be interpreted as neglect.

My own adoption support group advocates, and some experts in child-welfare reform do as well, for helping families get what they need—rehab, food stamps, child care subsidies. We agree that should be prioritized over permanently removing children from their parents. In a 2019 paper, “A Cure Worse Than the Disease? The Impact of Removal on Children and Their Families,” Vivek Sankaran, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, and his coauthors note that removing children from their homes is traumatic for both parents and children, and that standards for removal vary from state to state. In some states there must be evidence that a child is in immediate danger; in others, suspicion of neglect is sufficient cause. Some states allow a parent to appeal the removal within 24 hours; in others a parent may have to wait 10 days. As a result, the authors note, states and even individual counties have widely varying rates of removing children.

“If we eliminated poverty in this country, that would be the best abuse- and neglect-prevention program,” according to Elizabeth Bartholet, director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School.

It is true that the internet, along with widely available genetic testing, has dismantled the possibility of a truly closed adoption.  However, the truth about open adoptions is the adoptive family an easily end the relationship. Open adoptions exist at the discretion of the adopting family. They are not legally enforceable in all states, and where they are enforceable the cost of a lawyer can be prohibitive for a birth mother.

My adoption support group often recommends the Saving Our Sisters (SOS) organization to expectant mothers considering a surrender of their baby. This group seeks to persuade birth mothers that financial strain shouldn’t prevent them from keeping their children. When a woman who is having second thoughts reaches out to SOS online, the group tries to find a “sister on the ground” nearby to bring her diapers, a month’s rent, or a baby swing. In 6 years time, they helped 90 mothers and their children remain together, rather than be lost to adoption.

 

Clueless Foster to Adopt

The goal of foster care is supposed to be family reunification. The parents have challenges that disrupt their ability to properly care for their children. The state steps in and removes the children from their family home. This is always a sad occurrence that calls for subtle considerate of the emotions involved.

There are many people who become foster carers with a hidden agenda. They hope that reunification fails and results in the permanent termination of parental rights and the door open to their adopting the child(ren) in their temporary care.

When one looks at this meme by a foster carer – it immediately becomes clear by the word “permanency” that the goal of this person is adoption. The celebration is because they believe they are that much closer to achieving that goal. This could never be viewed as a celebration by the child(ren) involved as they grieve what has happened to their family.

A proper foster carer would hold space for the child to feel however they need to feel about the situation without judging their emotions. It should be understood as one of the worst days of this child(ren)’s life. So, let them feel that and stand quietly alongside them as they process the circumstance.  Beyond this clueless approach, there’s this issue.

The lack privacy regarding the reasons for separating families.

There are foster support groups riddled with fosters sharing details about the children’s parents’ cases. Details about drug use, neglect factors, criminal history. HOW do fosters even know any of this?? What happened to privacy laws in this country?

So if you’re an addict, struggling, dealing with mental health issues, it’s totally cool for strangers to be privy to that ?

First of all, social workers are not the ones removing the kids in most cases. They are reading words on a piece of paper. This is how they determine the situation that caused the initial removal. It is not surprising that bias and burnout then factor in, regarding how a social worker views the family.

How does sharing details and disgust not create bias against the natural family with the fosters right at the beginning ? There is no reason that fosters should need any details about the parents in order to provide care for the kids ..zero! All they need to know is – what do the kids need ? Clinical info only about the children! Anything else is just their morbid curiosity disguised as concern. It is unbelievable, the degree of information about private matters that some foster carers have received.

Is Guardianship Enough ?

As prospective adoptive and foster parents find the all things adoption group I belong to, some of their perspectives truly do begin to change. Same for expectant mothers thinking about surrendering their child for adoption, then changing their mind and deciding that they may actually be capable of raising their own child. Always a happy outcome.

Unfortunately, many Division of Children and Families agencies at the state level still operate from an obsolete point of view. Here’s a story from one foster mother who is facing that dilemma.

We have a 7 year old pre-adoptive foster son that has lived with us for 21+ months. I always had the intention of adopting (until I joined this group), but we were only regular foster parents until this boy moved in. Everything was going “well” and mom was going to sign an open adoption agreement. Then the pandemic hit and we had to supervise their video visits, which ended up being good because we got to know each other. Then we offered to supervise the monthly in-person visits. I joined this group and now I’m trying to help mom to get her son back. She is working on her plan and I’m so proud of her, but I am not sure it will be enough for Division of Children and Families. We have a permanency meeting in a month, so I need some help.

I have 2 questions about our situation:

For the adoptive parents/foster parents in the group: How do you navigate changing a goal of adoption to guardianship, when the department has said in the past that doesn’t offer enough permanency for the child and they would move him. Is a 7-8 year old listened to, if the child says he wants to live here forever but only if his mom can’t get better?

For the adoptees/former foster youth in the group: Let’s assume mom’s rights are terminated. There is no dad involved and there literally is no family that could take this boy in and raise him. How do we know if this boy really wants to be adopted by us or not? How do we know if guardianship is or isn’t enough for him? We have a biological child who is only 6 months, in case that matters. How old is old enough for us to follow what the boy requests? We have heard so many adoptive parents talk about how their children’s behaviors changed after adoption because they felt “secure”, but after reading so much stuff in this group, I have a whole different view about adoption. Yet I don’t know how to figure out what our foster son would really want or if he would think we love him less, if we don’t adopt him.

Only one response, from an adoptive/foster parent so far but it could be helpful to others in a similar situation –

Does he have a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or GAL (Guardian ad Litem) ? I am not sure what state he is in but in Indiana, the guardianship petitions are heard in a separate court outside of the Child Protective Services court. Child Protective Services is notified that a guardianship petition has been filed and they can come and object, if they want but sometimes they don’t.

So I would think, if you get an attorney and just file it – with mom being in agreement, then they would have to come and object, explaining why adoption is better. I think if mom is making some efforts, then that would be a bonus towards guardianship.

Guardianship is always an option. I haven’t figured out why they don’t push more for guardianship for very young children and what the age is that it suddenly becomes an option but I have seen our state grant guardianship with a Child Protective Services case for kids as young as 2 years old.

Also, I don’t think it is ethical for the department to threaten you with moving him. So I would ask for a supervisor or above to sit in on your next meeting and just ask for them to explain why this is happening and why adoption is the only option. I would personally tell you that we have custody/guardianship for our two youngest and it has been good.

Licensed

First it was the Gotcha Day announcements and parties related to adoptions.  Now the promotions have moved into the field of foster care.

Starry eyed.  When someone thinks getting a foster care license is such a difficult accomplishment that it needs to be celebrated publicly as this huge deal, that’s a red flag. Truth is, it’s easy to become a foster parent.

The stork with the baby and the baby bottle images hint at a broader agenda and that is – to participate in what is known as foster to adopt – which is often an easier path to adopting an infant or young toddler than traditional adoption.  And the “no cravings” remark must be alluding to pregnancy and the well-known strange cravings for certain foods a pregnant woman experiences.

And it seems to be a thing also to have a “foster shower” and an Amazon wish list when announcing that one intends to foster children.

As a reality check, when becoming licensed to foster children, as the graphic indicates in its unique manner, you have to define age groups and number of kids. You have to have beds and maybe change some rooms around for the age requirements.  You can’t get licensed for specific ages without having space and furniture (beds) for that age group. If you wanted to be open to all ages, you have to have a crib (and basic baby supplies), toddler bed and twin bed minimum.

One foster parent did say however, “when older siblings of little ones we were fostering came into care we were able to take them with minimal fuss, no additional training required.”  Which is a good thing.

People approaching foster care like the announcement suggests often claim they have worked through the loss of being infertile completely. Once they are finally “called” to foster with the expectation they will adopt a newborn, they need baby announcements with storks, do gender reveals and big baby showers, seek attention and have professional photo shoots in hospital beds and wheelchairs.  Doing it all – so it appears to be the same circumstance as someone who has given birth. It’s delusional and not the same.

And finally, I can’t help but ask – didn’t their “training” mention to them that the objective of fostering is family reunification ?  This expression is actually celebrating the worst tragedy and trauma this family of origin is likely to see. Comparing it in any fashion to birth, pregnancy, a stork dropping a baby at your door is tone deaf and gross. Given that these kids needs are provided for through a government stipend, I also cannot imagine asking anyone for gifts.

Misperceptions

I don’t know where these people get ideas like this.  Here’s today’s story –

“So when I talked to the foster care recruiter she basically said I can’t license you for the age group you want (0-3).  You will have to do 0-18. I don’t want to do older kids because I’m only 25 and all my kids are 7 and under. She said we would only be allowed 1 child because we are going to have another baby soon.  We would have 5 biological children (though one is stepchild, who is only with us weekends).  Our state limits the number of children in a fostering home to 6 total. OK, I’ll be honest, I was really hoping to adopt a little girl since all of our children are boys.  Well the foster care recruiter basically dashed my hopes. Based on the rules, it looks like we won’t be able to foster kids until we’re old and our kids are grown.  This makes me sad. We have the room in both our hearts and our home for lots of foster children but because of the limit on how many kids we can have in our house, we are just stuck with the kids we already have.  I am brokenhearted because I really wanted to be a ‘girl mom’.  Even thought I know the goal of foster care is family reunification, what I really want is to foster to adopt.”

This is a real person.

One woman suggested – “become a Big Sister or volunteer with the Girl Scouts with that ‘room in your heart’.”

Another woman shared this – “I was raised in a church where people were expected to have big families… The first thing it does is make the oldest kids grow up way too fast. They usually end up half raising the youngest ones.  The other thing it does is divide up the parent’s attention waaaaay too much. My friends from huge families often felt like their parents didn’t know them well.  So yeah, I’m glad they are limiting this person and not allowing them to pack some really young kids in there.”

Another woman noted – “If this woman could have her way, her boys would grow up to resent the little girl, because they would know that they’re second best to the girl their mother so desperately wanted.  Nothing entitles a person to take another mother’s baby and that should certainly be true when a couple already has five wonderful children of their own.  How selfish and ungrateful can one person be ?!?”

One woman admitted – “My grandmother had two sons and then adopted a daughter.  She favored all her granddaughters over her grandsons too, which really impacted my cousins who lived near her.  The daughters of her daughter were the most prized.”

One replied directly to the woman who’s story leads this blog with this – “Do IVF and a designer baby. Sounds like you’re super fertile anyway, so maybe easier than you think. Talk to a fertility specialist.” And then added this reality check, “It’s gonna break your heart more if it isn’t forever when you have that infant in your arms and then the baby is returned to her rightful family . . . because honestly, reunification is the goal, as it should be, as long as it is safe for the child to be returned.”

And this, “I taught classes for prospective adopters and for a long time the #1 reason for picking China was the virtual guarantee if a girl, a ‘china doll’ (usually named Lily or the like. ) It is so incredibly harmful to a child to be adopted for their gender. It puts that child in a gender straight jacket. Same for sex selection sperm treatments and sex selection IVF etc. But especially for adoptees. This kind of perspective is heartbreaking.”

 

Hedging Parenthood Bets

I don’t know anything about this publication but it fits my mood coming into today’s essay.

Read where one woman wrote – “We spent the last 1.5 yrs going thru the foster care process to be told during the home study that we are not eligible since we are still trying to conceive thru IVF. Either way, we still want to foster and adopt and really don’t want to wait much longer. We are 43/44 yrs old and have also been trying IVF for close to 5 yrs. Does anyone know a group that would allow us to foster or adopt while we continue IVF?”

I can honestly relate.  I conceived my oldest son at 46 thanks to IVF and another son at 49.  I won’t say it was the perfect way to have children but they would not be who they are or exist otherwise.  I love them dearly and so, can’t regret the effort behind having them.  While I had to give up passing on my own genetics to conceive them (I had actually already been there, done that, with my daughter, so it was perhaps easier for me to accept, than it is for some people), I do believe the route we took was far better than adoption.  I’ve had lots of opportunity to observe adoptees (both of my own parents) and birth mothers who gave up babies to adoption (both of my sisters).

The comments coming back to the woman above (the comments by others are not in response to my own situation) were not kind.

One wrote – what it sounds like to me is time is running out for us so we want to collect as many as possible to fill our desires before it’s not possible anymore! Also problematic because I’ve heard many adoptees talk about how they were raised by older parents and the huge generational gap caused even further issues. Older people expect old fashioned things, they don’t fit to be parenting in these times, let alone parenting traumatized children.

Well, we are older parents.  However, what I find comparing my two lives (parent at 19 and then in my late 40s) is that we are more willing to give up our own desires to meet our children’s desires where they express themselves.  There is a lot of wisdom and sometimes patience and often an intolerance for what doesn’t seem needed but we are there 24/7 for our boys.  I would not call my sons traumatized the way adopted children always are.  They do know the full truth of their origins.

I do remember my own OMG moment related to age – when I turned 60, my youngest was 10. I thought when I turn 70, he’ll only be 20. That startled me, though at 50 giving birth to him did not.  And one other thought about older parents – I know a lot of parents who died when their children were young. These parents were not old. Truth is we are all born to die, we are not guaranteed a particular length of life. Life is what it is and no two lives are the same. Also many of us live distantly from our offspring. I don’t always see my grown daughter or grandchildren even once a year. Money just isn’t there, though the visits when I am lucky enough to have one, are always precious.

One woman assessed the story above this way – #1 they are likely trying to find a child to ease their pain from infertility and replace the child they can’t have, #2 they are likely hopeful adoptive parents and will sabotage reunification from the git go which is part of any foster care effort and #3 they are likely only accepting 0-3 year olds.

Another noted –  It’s really sad that you cannot conceive, but please don’t traumatize an entire family of people with a lot less privilege than you have in order to satisfy your fantasy of a perfect life. If you want kids so much, divorce your partner, and marry a single parent with a child.

On that note, when my husband wanted to have children and I discovered how low my own odds of successfully conceiving were, I was privately sobbing, you need to marry a younger woman, but that was not what he wanted to do.

And finally, I do agree with this point of view – nobody should be trying to adopt or foster and do fertility treatments. Foster kids and adoptees aren’t backup plans. Also, nobody should try to do domestic adoption and foster to adopt. This is why therapy should be a requirement.  There’s no reason to continue IVF if you want to adopt. I’ve seen couples do IVF literally weeks after adopting. They shouldn’t adopt.

 

Charging Parents For Foster Care

I remember when I divorced my first husband, the issue of child support came up in court.  I had heard horror stories about unending conflict in child support issues.  I wanted none of it.  My ex had already told me he would never pay child support.  I believed him.  His attitude was if I wanted his support for our child I had to stay married to him.  In a weird turn of events, after leaving my daughter temporarily with her paternal grandmother for care while I tested myself to see if I was even able to drive an 18-wheel truck cross-country, my daughter ended up being raised by her dad.  Eventually, he re-married and she grew up in a yours, mine and ours family when they had a child together and she had already brought a child with her to the marriage.  I didn’t want to interfere in what I considered a good situation for my daughter – mindful of the old biblical story and the baby the kind almost cut in half to satisfy two women both claiming the child as their own.  Only recently, after over 40 years of believing this fantasy, my daughter told me it wasn’t such a good situation growing up there.  My heart still grieves to know that.

This is a bit of a digression but not really because today I have learned that when children are taken by the state and placed in foster care, the original parents become liable for child support to cover the costs of their children being placed into foster care.  It seems that everything this government does is stacked against families and intent on keeping people enslaved to poverty regardless of how hard they try to improve their lives.  Even though I lost much in not raising my daughter, I do not regret forgoing the constant conflict of fighting for child support.  I don’t know what the best answer is as regards responsibility – I suppose better human beings but sometimes the deck really is stacked against people in general.  It is so sad.

Most families in the child protective services system also interact with the child support enforcement system. A potentially important effect of child support enforcement on the duration of out-of-home foster care placement. Requiring parents to pay support to offset the costs of foster care results in delays of a child’s reunification with a parent or other permanent placement. While this is a short-sighted and unintended effect, longer stays in foster care are expensive for taxpayers.  Without a doubt, extended placements in foster care has consequences on a child’s well-being. When the policies and the fundamental objectives of public systems are viewed in limited perspective and inconsistently coordinated we all suffer.

The child protective services (CPS) system can be seen as a safety net of last resort. While removing children from their parents’ care is an extreme intervention, recent estimates suggest that in the US 6% of all children and 12% of black children will have experienced out-of-home care by the time they reach the age of 18. Most children and families with CPS involvement also interact with other social service systems that can have very different goals and models of administration and financing. This lack of coordination often leads to substantial, though unintended, negative consequences for both for the families involved and the taxpayers who pay for these services.

The scope of the child support enforcement system is generally limited to establishing and enforcing nonresident parents’ financial obligations to their children. In contrast, the CPS system is responsible for assuring child safety, permanency and well-being, so its scope and responsibilities extend well beyond financial resources. The scarcity of studies regarding CPS-child support interactions may reflect important differences in their policies and the goals of these programs or a limited recognition of the potential importance of their interaction, but research in this area has been hampered by the limited availability of relevant survey data and the technical challenges associated with the analysis of administrative data from separately managed systems.

Requiring parents to pay support results in a longer foster care spell and it definitely decreases the economic resources a separated parent needs to achieve the conditions CPS sets forth for reunification.  This would indicate that this policy is fiscally counterproductive.  And the reality is that there are low levels of collection and additional costs in seeking to enforce these child support payments.

Most children enter foster care due to neglect, rather than abuse, with low income an important risk factor for parents losing custody of their children.  Safely and quickly reunifying families is an important priority and it will reduce both disruption to children and the public costs of foster care.  I know personally how difficult it can be to be a single mother.  When I rejected child support as a very young woman, I was overly confident about my ability to provide for my self and my child.

The truth is children living in single-parent families are over-represented in the CPS system.  Child support can play a particularly critical role in the income packages of low-income single-parent families.  Some evidence suggests that increased child support may reduce the risk of child welfare involvement.  Historically, the government has often retained child support payments from low-income families receiving cash assistance to offset welfare costs, but in recent years policies have changed to allow more child support to be passed through to resident parents receiving assistance—making welfare and child support complements, rather than substitutes.

The change in policy to prioritize economic support to families over cost-recovery for government has not been extended to children in foster care. Federal guidance and state policies generally call for child support orders to offset government costs, rather than directly benefit children, when children are placed out of home.  Federal policy calls for child support previously directed from nonresident to resident parents to be redirected to the state, and, for those that do not have orders, new orders are established for both pre-placement resident and nonresident parents to cover the costs of foster care incurred by the state.

 

Unreasonable Expectations

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a lot about cases where Child Protective Services interferes with a parent/child relationship.  I used to worry about it though.  Rowdy boys who I did my best to keep socially acceptable in public in the most gentle way I could.  I used to warn them that they really had to listen to me or someone might take them away.  They seemed to understand well enough to settle down and not raise misguided concerns.  That is the world they grew up in and they are now very well-behaved teenagers, thanking all that is good we all survived their childhood but that isn’t always the case.  So my story today is about one such case and its causes and impacts.

A father and son played for hours at the beach, splashing the water, and building an elaborate sandcastle. The two of them are so similar it’s sometimes hard to imagine they aren’t the same soul living in two separate bodies. Their bond unbreakable regardless of what the courts may have ordered. Their visits are essential to our son knowing who he is, where he comes from, and who he takes after in this world. (Don’t know for certain but believe he has been adopted.  The woman shares that the boy’s 2 older biological sisters are still in foster care, which explain what comes next.)

While spending time together, Dad said to me, “I need to start being good and following the rules if I want to see my daughters…. it’s just hard, because I never had rules to follow before, so it’s not easy for me.”

How hard it must be for first parents to be asked to follow the strict guidelines children’s aid societies and child protection services (CAS/CPS) sets out for them when they themselves grew up in circumstances where there were minimal-to-no-rules. Is it this perpetual cycle that explains why the children are removed ?  Then, why the parents struggle to obtain reunification.  And then, when that isn’t possible, struggle to be able to maintain visitation after Termination of Parental Rights, when CAS/CPS controls the narrative, the rules to follow, and the access to their children. It’s something I think more foster and adoptive families need to recognize is part of our privilege, and be more mindful of the unreasonable expectations placed on first families.

I’m grateful that CAS has no say over who we visit with, how frequently, or under what conditions, so that we can see our son’s family as often as possible; but I’m continuing to learn and to be heartbroken by this terrible system designed to keep families apart.

One woman shared a similar story about rules that was not related to this first one.  CPS told a neighbor her 12 and 14 year old children were not allowed to walk home from school. They had to take the bus or be picked up. She lives 1/2 mile from the school. That felt really controlling and they held that over her head, as if it were a problem. How is something like that possible ?

My sisters and I walked to and from school every day of our childhood.  Both of my parents worked.  There wasn’t even a school bus provided but we did survive it.  We were probably healthier for the exercise.  This is the kind of over-reach that worried me when my boys were very young.

There are so many problems with CPS “rules.”  The first woman went on to add these thoughts – the rules often sound arbitrary, conflicting and complicated to follow in real life. And I can see how they don’t seem “so bad” to those with the means and privilege to have a flexible schedule, financial resources and a support system. The whole premise is corrupt and needs to be dismantled and rebuilt with an emphasis on family reunification, support, culture, and preventative measures, so we never end up here in the first place.

Cultural rules change a lot depending on what cohort you are part of. CPS rules are based really heavily on white middle-class cultural rules, which are stunningly different from other groups of people.  Which led another woman to share –  our case worker keeps saying my nephew goes ‘AWOL’ and it bothers me so damn much.  Because I know that feeling of not being in control. The ability to come and go as you please, to go on a walk is not AWOL.  The amount of re-framing the system needs to do is staggering.

 

Not Always Sunshine and Rainbows

From a foster youth’s perspective –

Hello all! I’m a 22 year old female that started my journey in foster care at the tender age of 4 years old. My parents were addicts which seems to be the case for most kids in care. Most children are set up to fail and they assume where they may end up will be much better then where they come from and thus sadly wasn’t my truth.

I luckily only ended up in two foster homes but one became long term until I was essentially kicked out at 17 because my foster mother no longer was getting benefits for me.. she will not admit that but it’s the truth.

She took in me and my bio brother, she had two golden children of her own and always made it a point at any given time to segregate us. Her children could do no wrong and me and my bio brother often got the brunt of things. Punishments often included cold showers, forced to eat food we didn’t like, public humiliation, physical and emotional abuse.. I remember a lot of name calling, threatening behaviors and often time ignoring my need for love and attention. I was often berated over my weight even though now looking back I was an average child along with my brother.

I was told around 9-10 that they would love to adopt us and make us “part of the family” only to turn around a week later and say “we decided we won’t be adopting you because the financial burden would be to much and we get money for you now”.

That always weighed heavy on my heart as a child, I felt like a pay check to them and never truly wanted.

Fast forward to my teens I began to search for my bio parents, with a failed attempt on bio moms side.. but found my father and started building a decent relationship.. it strange how I felt an instant connection even though I hadn’t seen him since I was 6-7. He passed away this past November and we were finally at a peaceful place in our relationship and I’m now dealing with another wave of grief and abandonment even though this time I know it’s not by choice.

My bio mother still remains a mystery to me that I hope some day I can figure out and fill that empty place in my heart. I just wanted to write this to let people know adoption and foster care is not always the sunshine and rainbows you see on tv and often times can leave children with scars that last way into adulthood.

Please protect us, protect the little girl I was, protect us at all cost and try to understand our hurt.

A Womb-Wet Infant

I love this image because my youngest son actually had such an unhappy expression as he was pulled out of my womb via c-section.  But that really isn’t the topic of my blog today.

So many hopeful adoptive parents only want what those in the adoptee community call “womb-wet”.  I remember when my husband decided he wanted to become a father after 10 years of marriage, we once discussed adoption.  His uncle had adopted a son.  My parents were both adopted.  Yet, not even knowing what I know now, we felt that adoption was not a good choice.  So glad we didn’t go that route.  The route we went was complicated enough but the results are generally satisfying.

So in my adoption community (which includes all variations from original parents who surrendered to adoption, to adoptees, to former foster care youth, to adoptive parents, to expectant single mothers and to hopeful adoptive parents) came this woman’s comment –

We are attempting to foster kiddos 0-2. We were basically told that we will most likely not receive an infant placement and that school age kiddos are where the need is. As a family, 0-2 fits our needs for many reasons. I guess I don’t understand. With as many kids in the system, wouldn’t they rather have a home ready for placement when the news arrives instead of fishing around when the need arises and there isn’t a home available? Please no hateful responses. Looking for advice as we are beginners.

The truth is that adoptees and former foster youth are given priority to express even their raw and unfiltered feelings in this group, hence the plea for “no hateful responses”.  That doesn’t guarantee there will be none.  For some members, it takes a bit of getting used to but I have learned so much being a part of this group.

The first response went something like this – “Am I wrong in saying she’s contradicted herself? When she says that there’s so many kids in the system wouldn’t you rather have a home ready….right after saying how the need is for home age kids…..?  Also am I correct when I say fostering isn’t about your needs but the needs of the children?”

Another reply was – “Age 0-2 fits their family’s needs better…yeah right.  I think the term they are looking for is blank(er) slate”.

There are MANY older children in foster care.  Therefore, one person commenting rightfully noted – “Wouldn’t they rather have a home ready for placement?  Translation – doesn’t want to be ready for children already in need.”

Another wrote – “I will literally never understand the baby thing. How do you decide to become a foster parent because babies are cute? I mean really . . . can “fit in/meet needs” or whatever weird phrase you want to use WAY easier than a baby who you can’t even begin to try and explain the situation to and therefore can’t even start to comfort or calm completely for weeks after they are placed.”

Another said – “Really sounds like a spoiled, entitled brat, who’s stomping her feet, pissed off that she’s not getting what she ordered, the moment she ordered it.”

I really urge all of you thinking about becoming foster parents or hoping to adopt someone else’s newborn baby to consider how you could use your resources most effectively and your passion to help families by focusing directly on helping families stay together.  Sadly, fighting for reunification as a foster parent really isn’t enough.  Sadly, for kids in foster care, the damage is already done.