“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince
It’s time to take note of a matter that is close to my heart- children in the foster care system (the “System”). A question that I’ve been asked ever so often- “Why should kids be taken away from their families and placed with total strangers, who are in all probability more unfit than the biological parents?”
There’s no real answer to this, except that the State takes care of its kids- or at least tries to. If a child is at any kind of risk- be it physical or emotional, it could endanger the child’s overall well being, health and even life, thus resulting in the intervention of the State. Without getting into technical details and using terms like permanency, kinship, termination of parental rights, reunification and such, let’s just explore the ‘why’s’- Why does the State even intervene- especially in cases where a parent may be a victim of substance abuse (yes I did use the word ‘victim’)?
In today’s day and age, the prime focus of the State is to have the parents caring for their biological children, simply because- who else could be more interested in their offspring? However, take a minute and think of those individuals who have kids but are unable to care for them- be it due to monetary circumstances or health- let alone those who are incarcerated and their kids have nowhere to go.
What about kids belonging to a substance abuser? Is it always their fault that they are dependent on any particular substance? Am sure they do try, but sometimes they just cannot or don’t wish to help themselves. What then? There have been instances where kids have been left to fend for themselves while the parents are busy trying to score. This is not to say, that all substance abusers are like that. There are those who go in to therapy, those who work hard to have their kids live with them and not out in the unknown world. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out in their favor, they go back to the ever changing cycle of substance abuse. It’s not easy- not for them and not for the kids. What’s the solution? Remove the kids from their home and place them in foster care!!!
Do we trust foster parents? Well that’s a big question. It’s a well known fact that the State pays individuals to be foster parents. Yes- they are vetted- their homes are vetted. Most kids are placed with relatives as their guardians, should the relatives be willing to take on the responsibility of the children. But are these foster homes screened for drug use and tests? The shocking answer is ‘at most times NOT‘. So then someone please explain to me- why these innocent kids are placed between the devil and the deep sea? There have been various instances of drug use and such- yes the State takes note and intervenes and moves the kids. But it isn’t always the case.
Then comes the fact that the biological parents can’t keep up to their promises or are too overwhelmed. They want to do so much for their kids, but circumstances within and beyond their control hold them back, which result in their rights being terminated and the children often put up for adoption- which may or may not be successful. The kids- always stay in the System. Sometimes they get blessed/ lucky- sometimes not. If they do, they climb great heights and are role models!
I urge you to read “Three Little Words’ and “Three More Words” books by Ashley-Rhodes Courter, to gain a deeper understanding of the Foster Care and Adoption system.
There are always two sides to a coin- some good and some bad. But these kids, are the future of tomorrow- so we need to take a stand- and take it now! Vet foster homes carefully, limit the number of children per home and incarcerate foster parents for violating the rules, regulations and the laws.
As I make my move, I hope and pray I can make a small difference in my own way- in a new country.