In 2015, I wrote a blog post called Why Adopt From the Foster Care System. Today is October 9, 2017, and I’m presenting a different side and Foster Care System Problems.
Foster Care System Problems
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On August 25, a friend posted this on Facebook,
Last night I spent a couple of hours learning about older youth in foster care and kids that age out of the system. I knew it wasn’t rosy, but the stats are so sad. Did you know?
More than 1 in 5 will become homeless
Only 58% graduate high school by age 19
Only 50% are employed at age 24
Less than 3% earn a college degree by age 25
71% of girls will be pregnant or have one or more children by
Over 22,000 kids a year age-out of the system. Some days the problems just seem too big.
Many people commented on the post. I gravitated towards what one woman said. She stated,
Unfortunately, the government makes the process of becoming a foster and/or adoptive parent so cumbersome, most who start the process give up. I understand the need for background checks and such, but having been through the process, I can say that 85% of the crap they make you do is pointless and does nothing but cause good people to walk away. The creeps, though? They jump through all the hoops as their motivation is their own desires not the well being of the children.
Our license expires at the end of September. We will not be renewing it at this time. I think we need real, drastic, common sense reforms to the system. There is always the complaint that more foster homes are needed, yet the process drives good people away. Something major needs to change sooner rather than later.
FYI for those who don’t know me, we adopted our daughter at the age of 15 from the foster care system. I speak from experience and am willing to answer questions if anyone has them. As horrid as the system is, the kids are worth it and encourage those who can stomach the system to step up and help.
And I responded to that woman,
I could not agree with you more! We are thisclose to finalizing our 3rd adoption and have run into a bump where we are shaking our heads like WTF!!! I won’t publicly write about it until the adoption has finalized, but then I will. It’s really unreal.
What Happened in our Situation
Shortly before Amiya’s adoption finalized, we were notified that our yearly house review was due. What that means is that in the state of California (I’d guess it’s this way everywhere), in order to keep a foster license, your house has to be re-approved each year by the state to make sure it’s following all the rules (Home Inspection I + Home Inspection II).
In late August, a woman we had never worked with before, came to the house to complete ours. From her first step in the door, we felt like she questioned us on everything, and took “by the book” to a whole new level. There was not one thing in our house or thing we were doing on a day-to-day basis that Amiya’s social worker (and all other state workers in fact) did not know about.
This woman got caught up on two main things:
- Where her crib is located, which I’m not even going to get into because it’s ridiculous. To appease her, we put up a pack ‘n play in a different area, and somehow that was better than the current. We explained to her why her crib is where it is, and that if we wanted, she could obviously have the guest bedroom on the first floor (Ceci’s room), but that would mean she’d be on a floor all alone in a huge room – without mama and daddy if something happened in the middle of the night. Seems logical. (insert sarcasm)
- Our nannies. I completely, 100% understand why the state wants all nannies and anyone else who spends a significant amount of time with the children fingerprinted. The reason I believe our nannies never were fingerprinted in the first place is that I am at home almost 100% of the time when the nannies and children are. Rarely are they ever alone, and both nannies have been with us for a very long time now. They were with us (at least one was) prior to Amiya, and I trust them for everything. I let the woman know that I didn’t feel we needed to go through the whole process when Amiya’s finalization was in less than a month. She sort of shook her head, said they would need to be fingerprinted, and off she went.
Immediately upon getting back to her office, she sent an email to Amiya’s social worker and Amiya’s social worker’s boss. And so, the very next day, I get a text from Maya’s social worker, “Call me immediately.”
That’s where the drama began. I explained to the social worker everything that had happened, all the hangups, and we discussed the “why’s” for both of her major issues.
I already told you how much Maya’s social worker went to bat for us, and this was the biggest way. She was adamant and relentless that we did nothing wrong and should have to take no further action.
Meanwhile, the home inspection worker began sending me emails (to which I never responded per our social worker) with the culmination email in ALL CAPS demanding I send both nannies to Alameda (which, with traffic, can take 45 minutes – an hour+) to complete fingerprinting. It was the most unprofessional demand letter I’ve ever received. I didn’t respond. I simply forwarded it on.
Long story, short….it ended there when the social worker called me to say how rude and unprofessional it was and that she had forwarded it on for internal purposes.
The problem isn’t that the state is doing their job and playing by all the rules.
The foster care system problems lie with precisely what the woman above stated,
I understand the need for background checks and such, but having been through the process, I can say that 85% of the crap they make you do is pointless and does nothing but cause good people to walk away. The creeps, though? They jump through all the hoops as their motivation is their own desires not the well being of the children.
Do you think these people were scrutinized enough? Or how about any of these? Or what about the family of the man I met last weekend? He told me they poured oil on him then lit him on fire. He was four, then removed, and by the grace of God found his forever family that changed his life.
Since summer of 2013, Ryan and I have been under a microscope. The state knows every last thing about our lives, and to be honest – I can’t even keep track anymore the number of social workers and other state workers who have been to our house and sifted through our personal information.
And never once has there been an issue.
We have nothing to hide, but this experience sure made us feel like we were doing something wrong and hurtful to Amiya and the rest of the children.
Does this change my stance on the foster care system?
The state worker was unable to “approve” our home for this next year, but that was okay with us because we don’t need it – not now, other life things are happening.
We have adopted three beautiful, amazing, and sweet babies from the California foster care system. They have made it all worth it.
And even with the drama that was, for me, if you want the truth, this does not change my stance on the foster care system.
My deepest passions lie within the foster care system because of all the good it brought to our lives which is everything that is good.
What it does change, though, is perhaps my activism work within the system. It’s not a perfect system, and things can and should change – as a business model, if they aren’t always seeking better, then they are not doing their job anyways.
As it stands, the system is so very black-and-white. Fundamentally, this might be okay, but in reality, it is not okay – clearly demonstrated from the abuse that lies within it.
I don’t know the answer, but I also don’t believe that just walking away and letting it sort itself out is the answer. I just pray that these stories don’t keep people from adopting through the foster care system. At the end of the day, for these children, I would have done anything. And if you’re a mama, too, you totally get it. Anything for your children.