I’ve discovered a world I kind of wish I didn’t know about. It’s the world where everyone hates foster parents. I happened on it by clicking on an article about foster care, and came across a mean, hateful commenter. Then I clicked on her picture and into the hole I went.
It’s a universe where people talk about how foster parents want to steal your children. And foster parents aren’t screened and are all abusing children. And they’re just taking other people’s kids to make money. Also, it’s a world where the state is only taking children from homes to make money. (I’m not really sure how that’s even a fiscally sane suggestion.) And the state is just lurking around the corner, dying to take children from good parents.
I don’t live in this world. I don’t even understand how people think this world exists. I found myself wanting to get in there and defend foster parents everywhere. And explain to people that no one is sitting around wishing to destroy perfectly happy families by plotting to take their kids. And explain that the state doesn’t MAKE money by taking children. The state has to PAY for everything for these kids, it’s a drain on funds, not a boost to state funds.
But in the end, I didn’t. Mostly because people with that much hatred usually can’t be reasoned with, but also because those people probably have heart-wrenching stories. I know this system doesn’t always work, and ultimately, this system is manned by imperfect people. And there are spiteful people inside the system. Just because I haven’t come across these kinds of people, personally, in my county, certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. So, the fact that organizations exist to help parents fight for their rights is a good thing.
Then, on top of it all, I ended up watching a video of some show called What Would You Do, where the premise is a foster mother, sitting with her biological child and a foster child, treats the foster child in subhuman fashion, so other people around can see how horribly this foster child is being treated. The point is to see what the people around them would do, but all it did was feed some idea that foster parents treat their foster children like complete crap, and treat foster care like a job. There’s even one point where the biological daughter actress says, “How much money do you make to take care of him?” The mom actress answers, “Over seven hundred dollars. That’s why I only let him spend four dollars on his dinner. More cash for US to spend!” First off, I don’t know who makes that much money on a single child, must be nice. Second off, what a ridiculously heinous caricature of foster families. And, once again, I was treated to a comment thread about how horrible foster parents are because all they care about is making money off children and abusing someone else’s child. And it wasn’t even a real video, it was ACTING.
This hatred is disturbing on many levels.
How many people will watch that video and decide they don’t want to be foster parents because they don’t want the world to see them that way? So, we already don’t have enough people stepping up to do foster care, and ABC or NBC (whatever channel it was), is putting up productions that will keep people away from caring for these children. Great.
And I never would’ve thought there was anyone in the world who thought I went into this to steal children from families. For heaven’s sake. Why can’t we live in a world where people aren’t so given to extremes? Of course I don’t want to take children from perfectly happy families. But I sure want to be there for kids who need a place to stay. And I want to be there for parents who just need an ear or a little guidance. I mean, I know a lot of foster parents at this point. I can honestly say, although I’ve never met perfect foster parents, I’ve never met one that was in it to steal children.
I have met plenty of them who pour out their lives to help children with no family to go to. I have met biological parents who need help, and I’ve heard of parents that should never have access to their child again. To say that there is no need for foster care is to ignore the fact that in the last couple of years, in our area alone, we’ve heard stories of a mother putting her murdered child in a freezer, a father throwing his five year old over a bridge, and endless numbers of heroin addicts found comatose in their cars with their infants and toddlers screaming in the back seat. What do these people think SHOULD happen to these children or their siblings? Should society ignore them and let them suffer in silence?
No. There is a need for foster parents and this system, no matter how horrible a time some people have had.
So then, on the one hand, people have a tendency to act as if foster parents are perfect saints. “Oh, I just can’t believe what you do.” “I just don’t think I could do it.” They talk about foster care as if it’s a job only for the most wonderful of people.
Yeah. It’s not. It’s for nice, normal, flawed people. People who just want to help kids.
On the other hand, now I know there are these people out there who believe I’m evil incarnate, prowling the planet, just wandering around, looking for kids to take from their homes, so I can get rich off the misery of children and good parents.
Yeah. It’s not that either. First off, foster parents have absolutely nothing to do with taking children. Again, they’re just people who want to help kids.
It was a depressing read, and video. To hear people spew such vitriol about me was hard to take. I mean, obviously it wasn’t about ME specifically. But it IS me. I am a foster parent. And I wish these people could understand that, no matter how bad one situation was, the people they dealt with aren’t everyone in this system.
All foster parents aren’t abusing children. Some children are in homes filled with love, for the first times in their lives.
All foster parents aren’t “in it for the money.” Some children are in homes with people who are stretching every dollar, in every which way they can, just so they can care for someone else’s child.
All foster parents aren’t trying to take someone else’s child. Some children are in homes with adults who will do everything they can to help the biological parents reunite with their child, if that’s the best thing for that child.
All foster parents aren’t making their families at the expense of other families. Some children are in homes that expected them to be there for a short time, but end up keeping them because they love them and want them to have stability when their parents can no longer have them.
I know there are bad foster parents out there. There are terrible case workers. There are terrible judges. There are horrible child protection officers. There are horrible attorneys. And guardian ad litems. There are bad people in every single industry, in every single part of the world.
But that doesn’t make us all horrible people, with bad intentions. It just means that, like all jobs, sometimes a bad one squeaks by and taints the whole bunch. There are wonderful people working in this system. I’ve met incredible foster parents, terrific case workers, fabulous lawyers, and selfless guardian ad litems. And all of them have one thing in common: they want to help a hurting child find a safe place where they can grow and develop, surrounded by people who love them. Yes, sometimes that means they can’t stay with their biological parents. Some biological parents just aren’t SAFE for their children. But often times, in fact over half of the time, these people are doing everything they can to help biological parents find the resources they need to get their children back.
I guess I’ll get used to a whole bunch of strangers hating me for being a foster parent. The kids we’ve helped are worth it.