We are surrounded by very affluent communities here on the San Francisco Peninsula, but there are still many children who find themselves in the foster care system due to abuse and/or neglect. Society turns its back on these kids in a variety of ways. The affluence many local people enjoy allows those who want to experience parenthood to have a biological child by in-vitro fertilization or hiring a surrogate mother. They would rather spend the money to have their own biological children than take in a child that many believe will become nothing but a detriment to society. Just because many foster children suffer emotional and psychological damage doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving of a loving home or capable of becoming contributing members of our society. Some foster and adoptive families have ulterior motives for providing a home for these children. More often than not, American foster children sadly are abandoned to a system that is already overwhelmed, and they suffer the consequences. Adoptive families should accept them on a permanent basis, with open arms and without conditions.
I was one of the older children in the deflating American foster care System that was lucky to get out and remain comparatively psychologically intact. Rejection comes in many forms, and being stuck in multiple placements in the foster care System in America brought rejection to the forefront for me, having a long lasting negative and depleting effect on my self-esteem. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard over the years, “Wow, your mom is such a special person! Do you have any idea how lucky you are?” I just smile and say “Yes, thanks”, not wanting to bring up the fact that I was never truly considered part of the family. It was a badge of honor for my adoptive mom to say that she took three of us in, especially at our ages.
Children are placed in foster care for many reasons. Abuse, neglect, and lack of ability to care for them financially are all reasons that can come into play. In “What is Poverty?”, Jo Goodwin Parker writes “I have three children. When I left them with ‘Granny’ the last time I had a job, I came home to find the baby covered with fly specks, and a diaper that had not been changed since I left. When the dried diaper came off, bits of my baby’s flesh came with it. My other child was playing with a sharp bit of broken glass, and my oldest was playing alone at the edge of a lake. I made twenty-two dollars a week, and a good nursery school costs twenty dollars a week for three children. I quit my job (639).” I wondered why she didn’t choose to put her children up for adoption. The situation she describes brought up memories of what it was like living with our birth mother, except our birth mother didn’t leave us with anyone. We were three children left alone to fend for ourselves for days on end. I remember being about 4 years old, sitting next to the radio listening to Elvis, crying and wondering when our mommy would come back. I would fall asleep there and wake up with stickiness of dried tears on my cheeks and my empty tummy rumbling. What you don’t realize is that even though we eventually were adopted, we still missed our birth-mother, despite all that she did wrong. There’s a bond between a mother and her children that can’t be replicated elsewhere, and perhaps that’s why Parker didn’t let her kids go. I won’t judge whether she was right or wrong to keep them, but I understand her frustration with welfare systems that are supposed to help, yet seem to make a trying situation worse.
I can only relate to you what I went through. Not all foster parents are the loving, caring people that most people think they are. Ours certainly weren’t. And when I had the nerve to tell our social worker that we were sexually and physically abused by our foster parents, the ensuing investigation “proved” that there was nothing inappropriate going on. This was how we spent our...
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