Stop the Stigma! — Myths and Rumors About Foster Kids That Need to Die.
I have written before that the stigma associated with being a foster kid is paralyzing. Why? Because of the myths that people believe about foster kids or about people who grew up in foster care.. Many times people who “think” they know about foster care say wrong or damaging things, because they really don’t know. I don’t understand why people who are NOT affiliated with foster care (either as a kid, parent, or worker, etc) think they have ANY CLUE about what really goes on in the foster system. YOU DON’T.
Most times, these people that are not at all related to foster care just perpetuate the myths that are damaging and hurtful. Here are the major myths that damage foster children and create stigma. In no particular order…
1) Foster kids did something to get put into foster care. They behaved badly, attacked someone, killed someone (yes, someone once asked me who I killed!) or are juvenile delinquents. I simply don’t know where this myth comes from, but in the majority of cases, foster kids are kids that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their bioparents. WE ARE THE VICTIMS and did nothing to wind up in foster care!
In the fact the other day I read something where someone used the word “apprehended” to describe how foster kids are taken by CPS. Look up apprehended and you will see it means “to take into custody” or “to arrest” — this word is used for criminals. NOT foster kids.
In most cases, there is NOTHING any child could do to be forced away from parents and into the care of the state…NOTHING. We are/were kids.
2) Foster kids are going to kill your pets and rape your other children and burn your house down. Let’s be real here…Yes, there are some children who are so incredibility traumatized that they have severe attachment disorders that result in these types of behaviors.
But the MAJORITY of kids in care do not do these things. The majority of foster kids hurt themselves instead of hurting others. And yes, they will act-out until they feel safe. Acting out includes yelling, not listening, hitting, writing on walls, breaking things, running away, stealing, etc. But in time, with understanding, compassion, help, guidance, and the “L” word, many of these behaviors “calm down.”
Please see some of my other blog topics to read about my “behaviors.” Folks, I was no angel. I was a scared kid who did not trust or believe anyone “cared about me.” And I had some “labels” that were red flags for acting-out…but I never did the things that myths are made of.
And yes, it takes a special person to raise children with severe attachment disorders, but it can be done. They are wonderful people trying to heal the pain caused by others to children. Do not blame the children for this…again the reason they act this way is because they have been hurt — REALLY hurt.
3) Foster kids are all developmentally delayed. No. Most foster children are fine but have problems with schooling and other tasks because living in foster care is wrong. Every time a child is moved, they fall behind in school. You can’t learn correctly when you are worried about where you are going to live. You can’t learn correctly when you worried about being so different compared with everyone else. You can’t learn correctly when the teachers and foster parents DON’T CARE. We aren’t developmentally delayed at birth…..we become delayed in the school system for many reasons.
4) “All foster kids are going home therefore I don’t want to adopt through social services, because I can’t deal with losing the kids.” OH CRAP, I hate this one
There are hundreds of thousands of kid WAITING right now to be adopted. They need a home. Not all kids go home!
Here are the numbers, folks….
50-60% of foster kids are reunited with their biological parents
10% head to kinship care
Therefore —- 30-40% of kids need a family!!!!
Stop this myth. Yes, the children might not be “healthy white newborns”, but there are so many children who need a family right now. If you love children, these are the ones that need you. Check this out…… http://www.adoptuskids.org/ or contact your local social services for other really neat kids.
5) Foster kids are ungrateful little bastards. Ouch. No, in fact we are usually very grateful, but as a child, we are also very confused. Just imagine being ripped away from your bio-family, no matter how shitty they were, and now are living in a different home, with different rules, with different people, with different everything….and being scared shitless because you are “used to living in your world” — and “not theirs.”
I am very grateful to all those foster parents in my life who were “good-enough” foster parents — for the caring they showed me, for the things they taught me, for the happiness at times I felt, for the honesty, for the help, for the trying, and for everything else. As a child, I might not have always shown it, but as a young adult, I recognize the value of the people that passed through my life — that tried to “help and heal me.”
Foster kids are not ungrateful… even when we write about the “wrongness” of the system. I am alive to write about the “wrongness” because of the foster parents and the workers…and I am grateful for what they did. But that does NOT mean that they could not have done better or that the system is perfect….
I lived in homes that were horrible and not safe. THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. I aged-out with nothing. THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. I was never adopted. THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. I was left to drift in school. THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. I needed real mental health treatment and never got it. THAT NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.
It’s not about being “ungrateful,” because we are not; it’s about making people realize that things need to be better for the kids still in care. We CAN do better…the kids need it. And I am grateful that people are trying….