I was sitting in my classroom when we began to introduce ourselves as new students.
“I have four brothers,” I said. “Three of us are adopted.” Then, I added we went through foster care in response to a student’s inquiry.
“Foster care?” my teacher asked. “You know, I fostered some kids.”
“What happened to them?” everyone asked.
“Long story,” he smirked.
Though, we convinced him to spill the beans, anyway. He briefly gave his home to be shared by four boys from the foster care system. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long. These kids had already been in constant homes, one after the other – they were considered the bad apples of the pack. One day, when my teacher was out to work, they broke into his house, managing to get the car keys, as they rode off in his car. Eventually, they crashed but, thankfully, no one was hurt.
However, their consequence would come soon. All three boys were sent to a hapless group home – last option opportunities for kids even worse. “They were all crying,” my teacher said. One of the older boys ended up running away, living on the streets before stepping foot into the group home.
“Wait,” I said. “Why did you get these bad kids when there’s better kids waiting in foster care?”
He shrugged. “The foster care system is messed up.” I was bewildered, but that story sparked to me research and find some answers.
Foster care started in the mid 19th Century, from the determination of Charles Loring Brace. It was originated to give hope to children who were neglected and homeless, which has still continued to this day. Foster care has and continues to help children in need. Though, the system has its flaws and there are growing concerns in foster care. Major issues include abuse, shattered communities, and not enough, essential time and care for the children. Something needs to be done to improve the system, in benefit for the children and the future.
The worries about the foster care system has just been whirling around dangerously. The more information is revealed and people share their unfortunate stories, the more it adds to this spinning circle of fire. One of the conflicts that has approached the system is the communities themselves. Often, the foster care will take in kids from poor and hapless communities. If there is a poverty-stricken or precarious community, then most likely they will take most children from there. That could possibly lead to overcrowding.
So, by taking the kids away from place that originates the risky issues, they don’t fix the problem. The problem is within the community itself. As Logan Nakyanzi says in the article, “Foster Care System Faces Problem,” – “When communities break down, foster rolls grow and the cycle feeds itself, they say.” That’s why advocates are encouraging people to help support these communities, which ranges from leaders like the mayor or county commission to the people themselves, which can be a solution.
“My decades of firsthand mental health experience saw the destructive inside machinations of a corrupt, overloaded, thoroughly broken foster care system do more damage than good to children and families with whom I closely worked.
These are the words of Joachim Hagopian, who worked with children welfare services in America and also served as a therapist. Another issue surrounding the worries of the foster care system is abuse. Many of these children that are in foster care, in the first place, are trying to escape abuse or get out of poor environments that are hazardous to their health or lives. But there have many cases that children have suffered abuse in foster care homes.
Brittany Hines Clark shares her experience on foster care in her article on childrensrights. She tells her account of sexually, physically and emotionally abused. The other hurt came from the realization that certain foster care parents just do it for the money; “I discovered that so many people get involved in fostering for the money and not to make a lasting impact on a child’s life.” As in the workforce, if you don’t like your job but you just do it for the money, chances are you aren’t giving your best interest or effort into it.
Clark’s story, of course, isn’t the only unfortunate one; others have experienced it, too. In a 2011 survey, it was reported that 13% of all foster children ran away at least once. In addition, like in the instance in the introduction, some of the bad apples in the pack move on while the better ones have to stay behind in foster care. And in 2012, nearly 36,000 foster children had been waiting more than 3 years to get adopted or returned to their home, and 24,000 had to wait 5 or more years. On top of the burden of feeling unwanted or neglected, these children shouldn’t have to face more baggage like abuse or people who have little sympathy for them.
There are many organizations that accept donations help the foster care system. However, some of these organizations are dishonest. I can personally relate to this story from my mom. My adoptive mother used to give money to a Broward County organization for kid in foster care. She realized, though, that the money donated was not going to what the organization said it intended. So, she decided enough was enough, therefore putting the money directly into adopting my two brothers and I. Organizations should be authentic if their objective is to help foster care kids.
Foster care has its issues, but there are still so many benefits to the system. Children can escape the fragmented lives of their home or community, whether homelessness, drugs or hazards. Foster care isn’t always ‘bad.’ There are many success stories of kids whose lives have turned around.
Teresa Hildago tells her positive story of how foster care has helped her life:
“I used to think that family was only your brothers and sisters, mom and dad. But now I know that your family is the people who are there for you in good times and bad times. I never thought that when I moved into my third foster home, I was going to gain a family and find hope for the future.”
And alumni of foster care, successful people in fame, include basketball player Alonzo Mourning and actress Victoria Rowell. Foster care has been an aid for so many people, including me. I now am able to live under a protective roof with a supportive family who adopted me. There are several concerns about foster care, but there are several solutions to fix them, as well. So let’s continue what Charles Loring Brace started and continue to help kids in need.