Should ALL foster parents be willing to adopt?? ——– a reader asks.
A reader named Kelltic asked me in a comment recently whether ALL foster homes should be willing to adopt, because moving from a foster home to an adoptive home might be damaging to the foster child, particularly with regards to attachment issues?
I thought it was an interesting question and after thinking about it, my response turned out longer than expected, because I have two separate thoughts.. one from a practical point of view and one from an emotional, child point of view. Unfortunately, they are different points of view, so I am not sure the issue is resolved….
A. From an emotional, child’s point of view…
The IDEAL answer would be “YES.”
When I was taken into foster care, my first placement was a temporary placement because I was injured and was medically special needs. I stayed with a nurse, named Ms. Liz.. I was told straight out that I would only be staying with her until I was better. Even though I was little, I understood that I was just there to “get better.” Once I was moved from that temp home, I stayed in a placement that would have been perfect (Sara and Bill HERE)… but they did not adopt me. I was never told anything about how long I would stay. I was just “going to my new foster family.” After that I moved and moved and moved. And in most cases, I was never told how long I would be staying or given the faintest idea of whether it would be days, a week, a month, a year or ?????
How can you learn to attach and trust if you have no idea when “your time is up?” You see, you live your life waiting … and waiting… to move or to stay? How can you focus in school when you are wondering if you will be there for the test next week? How can you make friends, because you might move tomorrow? How can you trust anything because there is no stability?
Everytime I moved, even if it had nothing to do with me, I felt like it was “my fault” – “no-one wanted me again” – I was “unwanted, bad, gross.” You keep thinking “what did I do,” “what is wrong with ME,” “why doesn’t anyone want ME” … and those questions fester and grow. It is even worse if there are multiple foster children in a home and you are the only one removed. Every move takes a piece of your soul and throws it in the trash and at some point, you begin to be cold and dead inside. You give up believing in life.
And then…at some point, you don’t bother trying to attach or to care because you just know you are going to get moved. So you try to purposely fuck it up, so the FPs get rid of you. You act out worse or you act in more. You curse them out and never listen. You do everything they tell you not to do. You run away. You fight. You destroy stuff. You hurt yourself. You … don’t CONSCIOUSLY know you are doing it. You are a kid and you are surviving because the pain of being dumped again is horrible. You want to control it! And you do, because guess what — eventually the FPs get rid of you…and it proves your point… no-one wants you because you are bad.
I have written numerous times that FPs need to THINK really hard before disrupting the placement and moving a child. Because even if we act like it doesn’t matter to us or we act like we hate you, the truth is it matters immensely when you “dump us.” Imagine your self-esteem after lots of “families” getting rid of you? Imagine what you would feel like? Your bioparents did not want you and no foster parents do either…UNWANTED and you don’t belong anywhere.
So, YES, foster children should be placed in homes that want to adopt; especially if it is highly likely that TPR is going to occur. Of course, this would take more work on the “system’s” part to try and match kids in homes where they might be adopted. But I am all for better matching anyway…
Kids whose parent’s have had their rights terminated, need more detail about their placements. I think that for the child, the best thing that could occur would be an HONEST assessment of the foster placement. For example: “LT, these are long-term foster parents who have kept children for long periods in the past. Hopefully that will be true for you.” OR “LT, these foster parents will probably be short-term because they have never kept long term kids. You will stay here UNTIL we can find a long-term family for you.” Give us some idea of the length of time about the placement, so we can anticipate.
Yes, the problem is that “shit happens in life” and there is NO TRUE STABILITY unless a child is adopted. Most of my experiences around being moved I believe to have been because of the following reasons: “dumped for my behaviors, dumped for FPs moving, dumped for FPs having their own family, and dumped for FPs being abusive.” Some of these “life things” aren’t known, such as a family moving, but I believe if FPs are planning on trying to have “their own family” they should not be considered long-term foster parents. They should only take children who *will be going home in a short amount of time.* Part of me even feels that they should not be FPs while waiting to get pregnant, because it REALLY sucks when you are dumped because a baby replaces you and you are “not their family”…. You are just the “foster kid.”
B. From a practical point of view…
I would answer “NO.”
Follow me here…
1) While many people reading my blog are “good” foster parents, the reality is there are alot of “bad” ones out there. There are many that simply don’t care about the child, use the child, abuse the child, ignore the child… and sit around collecting money for supposedly “caring for” the child. And before you write and tell me no way, please look at THIS POST where cases of neglect and abuse in foster homes went on for years. These people passed everything and if they were permitted to foster…imagine giving them the right to raise a child forever.
2) We all know that workers lie about kids or at times don’t know the truth about the kids in care. Thus, foster parents may wind up with children that they are NOT equipped or willing to “handle” or work with. My blog is filled with examples of techniques that “good” foster parents used to work/deal with my behaviors and issues. But, many other foster parents I had were not prepared to handle me and at best were ignoring and at worst abusive. Many times the true world of a foster child is not revealed until the child feels safe… and this could be awhile. Once that is revealed, it is really NOT fair to keep a child in a home that does not want to or can not deal with the behaviors and issues that present…
3) Even now there are simply not enough foster homes to take children. Foster youth are living in motels, in shelters, packed in homes, etc. because people are not willing to be foster parents.
I believe that if you add the condition that adoption is “a must,” the number will decrease dramatically…especially when it comes to older children and teens. Nobody wants them for good. Remember, if you foster, you can dump a child… if you adopt, it is *slightly* harder to get rid of a child.
4) There are many people who foster and would not be able to support the child without the “check.” It is NOT that they are fostering for the money, but the reality is that taking another child costs money and the extra money that comes with a foster child is needed. So, thus not everyone could afford to raise the child if required to adopt. I believe that some states continue payment of an older adopted child, but not all do.
5) Some people want to foster children after having had their own family or instead of having their own family. They want to foster to simply help a child in need. But they don’t want to become a legal parent. There is nothing wrong with that. But foster kids should know that up front, so their expectations of a family are not shattered.
C. What it comes down to….
What it comes down to in my mind is that every child deserves a safe and loving and stable home. It is FUCKED UP that kids like myself age-out of foster care with no connection and no family. It is FUCKED UP that the foster care system allows this to happen. But forcing people who want to be foster parents into adopting does not solve the problem. We need to find people who want to adopt children from US Foster Care, not force adoption.So many people don’t understand foster care or realize children can be adopted. So many people think the worst of children in foster care. We need to improve advertising so the TRUTH about children in foster care is understood; instead of rumors and myths that most people believe (foster kids will burn your house down, kill your dog, and rape your infants). We need to ensure that the foster care system provides the services that are needed; especially PROPER mental health treatment. We need to make sure that abused and neglected children in foster care get the services they need, even after adoption; so that they can continue to grow and heal. We need to find foster children mentors, so that if they never get a family, they have someone that they can call in time of need.
It’s not an easy question… and after thinking about it, there is not an easy answer. But we can do better about finding children families…
We need to do better…
Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: adopt, adoption, aged-out foster kids, aging-out, attachment, Foster Care, foster home, foster homes, foster kids, foster parents, no family, social workers, unwanted.