Saturday, September 18, 2010

Foster. Care.

As a run of the mill mom who really is nothing special but who is also a foster mom, I hear versions of this a lot: You are so special! I couldn't be a foster parent. I would just be too sad when the child went away.

I'm never sure how to respond to this.

Here are some possibilities I've considered:
  • "Yeah, you'd actually care about the child. That's too hard. Foster care is best left to those who are only intersted in the stipends."
  • "It helps if you have a heart-ectomy before you start. Wanna see my scar?"
  • "Oh, I agree. It takes a special person and you just don't seem to have that special specialness it takes to be special."
I don't think that would actually help matters. Sarcasm never solves social problems.

In 2008 there were an estimated 463,000 children in foster care. Over half of them were in foster homes like mine. Only a quarter of them were in placements with relatives. That's only 3/4 of the kids. Want to take a moment to guess where the other kids go?  The next largest chunk (about 10%) will be in "institutions." This can mean an orphanage type setting, like Boys' Town and Girls' Town, or more sadly, in a semi-permanent placement at a temporary facility. Then there are neighborhood group homes and supervised independent living arrangements. About 9,000 of those kids ran away and lived on city streets somewhere. Ever wonder about some of those young, homeless kids you've seen?

Foster Mom
Chances are you will meet with someone from the foster system. People involved in foster care don't have any visible signs that set us apart from other mere mortals. In fact we all look like ordinary people. I'm a foster parent and I look about as ordinary as you can get. 

A little more handsome than the run of the mill,
but you can see my point.
You might also meet our local news anchor, a Boys' Town graduate. Gosh, we kinda look just like ordinary people. That's the thing. We are ordinary. Just like you. There's nothing special about being a fostered child--it just happens. There's nothing special about being a foster parent either--my husband and I just decided to do it.

Maybe you or someone you know can make a decision like that. Or you might wind up meeting someone like this girl, someone who maybe could have used a safe place to go a few years back.

How can we make the list of foster parents waiting for children longer than the list of foster kids waiting for homes? Maybe we should make tours of the places kids go to wait for foster placement as common as bus tours. Think that would help matters?

I don't know the answer. You tell me. What would it take to get YOU to consider fostering?


  1. As an expert of parental rights, I foster transparency and accountability in the child industry.

    Unfortunately, the statistical references you used to paint your visuals are skewed.

    Poverty is considered grounds for removal of a child. As poverty increases, so does the rate of children being placed in foster care.

    Lack of medical insurance is grounds for placement in foster care when a child is in need of medical care.

    Children are not allowed, by law in many states, to be placed in relative care.

    According to a Wayne State study, almost 70% of children who age out of foster care will experience homelessness and incarceration within the first 3 years.

    What should be placed on your proverbial bus tour are the federal and state audits, including unsealed federal settlements which document the egregious horrors within the child welfare system.

    For convenience, I have compiled the first national repository of such.

    I commend your compassion and dedication but would encourage you to take a global approach to being a foster parent.

    In the wake of health care reform, foster care, as we know it is transforming. You have the abilities to be on the forefront of this change.

    Beverly Tran
    An Original Source

  2. Clear this up for me. You're suggesting that instead of being a foster parent, I should be for health care reform?

  3. Anybody else totally creeped out by the phrase "child industry"?