Archive for August, 2011

Foster Care Street


as you probably guessed, i am exhausted and overwhelmed.  thus, i literally laid on my futon and on the floor all day watching tv and sleeping.  somehow i wound up watching Sesame Street ALL day.  first let me say, that when i was growing up with my bioparents, we did not always have a tv, so i never saw much of Seasame Street.  i remember seeing it in foster homes, although by the time i was watching it, i was 8-9 years old.

Sesame Street is an amazingly creative show, filled with lessons and teachings about life and growth for children.

As I watched a day of this show, I realized how in some ways Sesame Street is incredibly similar to the Foster Care System.  Follow me here…

1.  Tons of kids, no bio- parents, a few foster parents

There are always kids on Sesame Street, but never any bioparents.  The kids are running in the streets, playing in the streets, hiding, talking to strange creatures, and generally not supervised, until it is time for a lesson, or to sing, or someone gets hurt.  Crap, even the puppets are kids!  Big Bird and Oscar are only 6 years old!!  Where are the bioparents?  Maybe they only show up when court-ordered…

But there seems to be several “foster” parents who watch the children – Alan, Gordon, Susan, Leela, Susan, Gina, Gabbi.  These humans act as care-takers to both human children and puppets alike teaching them everything about kindess and manners to nutrition and hygiene to letters and numbers.  These “foster parents” step up to care for children with no families in Sesame Street.  But like reality, there are not enough “foster” parents for all the children and muppets.  The ratio of children to parent is too high…  Sesame Street needs more “parents” in the neighborhood.

*Fact: Interestingly, they used “real kids”, no child actors were used and it is reported that the cast of Sesame Street had to learn to “get used to the sponetiaty and unpredictable behaviors” of the children ….just like foster parents getting used to new foster children.

2.  The “waiting kids” are never adopted, instead its healthy newborns and international toddlers!

Believe it or not, at least two adoptions have occurred in Sesame Street.  Gordon and Susan adopted a child and Gina adopted a child.  But guess what?  Neither occurred through foster care.  Nope.  As far as I can tell, Gordon and Susan adopted their son as a HBN and Gina went to another country to adopt an infant.  So in Sesame Street, there are tons of children with no bioparents, but they remained unadopted… probably because they are too old…


3.  No-one wants the Trash

Oscar the Grouch has lived on Sesame Street for ALONG time.  He can be found living in a garbage can, implying perhaps that he is trash.  Many people don’t like Oscar initally and clearly he pushes people away by telling them to “SCRAM” or “GO AWAY.”  Oscar also hoards items that seem meaningless to most people.

Some people consider foster children trash; because they come from “trash” and it is “not their problem.”  Additionally, the foster care system throws many foster children out like trash as well, when they age-out of the system.  Many children with no-where to go, no connections… dumped and forgotten about.  Dumped like trash.

**Foster children who feel unwanted and bad about themselves, push people away… by acting-out or acting-in.  They tell people to “SCRAM” or “FUCK OFF” as a way to protect themselves from getting hurt.  It’s all defense and self-protection.

Like Oscar, some foster children hoard items that many people would think are “trash” and meaningless… little notes, wrinkled old photos, candy wrappers, broken toys, etc.  I can remember carrying around an empty M&M box that I had gotten one Christmas.  I ate all the M&M’s but kept the box “for memories..”  Trash to some, special to me.


4.  No-one believes the children

There is a character called Snuffleupagus who has been around Sesame Street for ALONG time… but only Big Bird (aged 6) could originally see him and believed his existence?  He is a HUGE brown 4-legged, long snuffle-nosed creature that people could not see?   WTF?

According to Wikipedia, in 2006, Snuffy was revealed to most Sesame Street human characters…

Guess what?

The reason he was revealed to the Sesame Street world, was because concern was growing that children were becoming scared that NO-ONE WOULD BELIEVE them if they revealed abuse to adults… since no-one believed Big Bird for so many years since they didn’t see “it.”  Snuffy became “real” to encourage believing children.

In foster care, there is alot of denial too.  Denial about abuse, denial about mis-use of money, denial about people not doing their jobs, denial.  There is a big fucking wooly monster in the room, and nobody can see it…  (HERE, HERE, HERE)


5. One has an eating disorder

Cookie monster has an unhealthy relationship with food.  His diet consists of cookies, which he shoves into his mouth at rapid speed.  Most foster children have fucked up relationships with food.  They hide food, hoard food, eat weird things.  I sometimes ate everything till I puked and something ate nothing, preparing for starvation when I moved homes.  As a kid, I sometimes ate paper, sometimes carpet, sometimes banana peels, sometimes other random things to try and stop the starving. As an adult, my relationship with food is still unhealthy.  (Click here for guidance with food issues).

Ironically it appears cookie monster has had this issue for along time and no-one has gotten him the treatment he needs.  Just like foster care when mental health needs and medical needs are at times neglected…


6. Learning new things and making a difference

Sesame street teaches kids differences about people and introduces kids to other cultures.  In fact, Sesame Street has had characters from minority and ethnic cultures since the 1970s.  The series even introduced a character that was HIV+, handicap characters, and has dealt with death.  Lots of things for kids to learn…

According to Wikipedia, one of Sesame Street’s initial and primary goals was preparing young children for school, especially children from low income families.  The show’s producers used modeling, repetition, and humor, to fulfill their goals.  MODELING, REPETITION, and HUMOR are qualities needed for “good” foster parents.

Being in foster care opens the doors for children to learn about different cultures and lifestyles.  “Good” foster parents can open a world of opportunity to foster youth, who most likely comes from poverty, low education, and abuse.  From my life with “good foster parents” I learned things that I am still using today… what better way to help a child and leave a mark on their life…

August 28, 2011 at 1:00 am 30 comments

What makes a good foster dad? … a reader asks

Recently,  a newer reader to my blog, James, asked this question regarding Foster Dads.   I thought this was a great question, and since I have written one on What Makes a Good Foster Mom (click), I was surprised that I never did this.  But as James commented, perhaps because my relationships with men have been so hurtful, I have neglected this area.  But, it is very important and thus, I thought about this and came up with my list.  It was harder for me than writing the What makes a Good Foster Mom blog, because it was harder for me to recall “GOOD” foster dads.  As I have written in the past, many were either hurtful or distant… but there were a couple that GOT IT.

This list reflects ideas that worked well for me, a child who was abused in a myriad of ways.  Since my experience in foster care was that biofathers/stepfathers/boyfriends were the main abusers, I think it would be appropriate for many children.  Many of the ideas from the MOM post are important, so this is an addition to those!  I am NOT a therapist, so don’t send me hurtful comments telling me I don’t know what I am talking about… I am just sharing things that I felt were helpful and created more connection between the couple Foster Dads that GOT IT and those that did not care..

So, not in any particular order, because they are ALL important….

1) Code Words


August 2, 2011 at 2:08 am 45 comments

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