Monday, February 8, 2010

Wondering about the Foster Care System

My DS2 has been bringing the most interesting things to my attention. I think so many of us think that foster care moves children from difficult home situations to more stable situations that allow them to heal and move on. My DS2 has had more placements than most children and thus has seen more than perhaps the average child. He was placed with the state when he was only months old and then adopted for a few years before he was 10, but that too was also disrupted. But as he opens up and shares his past, he knows things that I would not expect a child of his age to know and doesn't know things that he should.

He doesn't know what the small intestine are, but can shoot with a pool stick behind his back.

He doesn't know who Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, is, but can name the major games of the city he was last placed in.

He didn't know that Hawaii was created by volcanoes, but he knows what a quarter slot is.

All these little tidbits were picked up not in the abusive homes but in foster care. What does this say about our foster care system? These children who are already fragile because of the horrors they have been through aren't treated like the precious gems of our society, but instead are put in homes that are questionable on their own. Why do you think so many families which have better circumstances don't consider foster care? How do you think we can fix this? If families from lesser circumstances wish to foster, how do we support them so that things like "jacking" bikes are not a part of these children's lives?

We as a society will pay later if we don't pay now and the cost will be much, much higher. DS2 cannot even visualize a future for himself and yet he knows what it means to be recruited by a gang. I can see and I continue to pray that his eyes are opened to a more productive future each day that we spend together. I hope that he begins to see how his actions affect not just him but all of society, but I wonder about the children that are now placed in the homes which he has left. Are they experiencing the same learning that he did? Do you have the power to change this? Would you be willing to step out of your comfort to make a change? Speak out for those that have no voice and don't even realize they need one. Consider being a foster parent yourself or a mentor. Perhaps you can be a CASA representative. Perhaps you could support someone else in being a foster parent. As the PSA says, "you don't have to be perfect, to make a change in a child's life."

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