Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
To say that our Foster Care system is broken is a gross understatement. Whether it is the actual Child Protective Service agency, the individual case workers, the judges deciding the cases, foster parents, or the law itself is hard to pinpoint. I would venture to say it is most likely all of these factors combined.
My main question is this: who hears the voice of the children? Or more especially, who speaks for the children? It should be all of the people above: CPS, case workers, foster parents, judges and the law.
But more often than not, no one is taking that position.
We have judges that care more about the rights of the “parents” than the rights of the voiceless children.
You are probably asking yourself why the Foster Care system is something I care so much about. Am I a product of “The System”? No, I was never in Foster Care. However, all five of my children were. Please note that I said “were”. Thankfully, we have made it to the other side of the Foster Care system and our adoptions were finalized on all 5 of our children the summer of 2009.
Through our journey to have a family, my husband and I learned more than I ever would have imagined about the Foster Care System. When we started the process I wanted one child. My husband talked me into committing to adopting two children. One day in prayer God spoke to my heart and told me He was preparing us to have five children. I literally laughed out loud at God. Just a note of warning for you…. Don’t ever laugh at God!
Our journey is amazing- one I would not change for anything in this world! Yes, there have been many tears shed through this process. There have been many broken hearts. But there have also been countless blessings on this journey.
We have been asked if we plan to adopt any more. I do not have plans for that, but I leave that decision to God. He knows the plans He has for me and my husband (Jeremiah 29:11).
I have also been told that I cannot save the world.
I agree. I can’t save the world- only Jesus can do that! However, I know that I can change the world! I believe God has a plan to use me and my husband- our journey- His story lived out through our lives- to shine the light of truth on the atrocities that go on in the Foster Care System.
I am committed to giving a voice to the voiceless. These children have no one to be their voice. Oh yes, there are the occasional CPS Case Workers, judges, foster parents, teachers, or other people who have come into the lives of these children. But all too often these children “slip through the cracks” of the system.
One day it is my goal to stand before Congress and be the voice for these children. Laws need to be changed. Accountability needs to be set in place for anyone who has contact with these children that have been entrusted to the care of the state. This system is broken and someone MUST stand up and demand that it be fixed!
As of September 30, 2009, there were 423,773 children in foster care. This is the latest official number available. (Source: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report17.htm )
Currently, there are approximately 115,000 children in the United States Foster Care system waiting to be adopted. (Source: https://www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/aboutTheChildren.aspx )
These statistics are astounding to me!
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So through the pain and anguish, heartache and anger of our journey, the joy is most definitely worth it! And in the process a passion has been lit inside my soul to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of children who I cannot bring home and adopt.
As a Conservative leaning Libertarian I am often disgusted and appalled at the Liberal agenda. The common argument is that Conservatives have no heart for the poor and needy. Liberals argue that because as a Conservative I want to cut the Federal Budget to the barest minimum I have no heart. I would challenge anyone who says these things to stop expecting the government to help the needy and step up and help them yourself! If you truly care so much about those in need, show them you care, do not “trust” the government to take care of the needy! And as you can see from the statistics there are many lives that need help! Where are all those bleeding heart liberals? These children need all of us to speak up for them and take action! This is our future we are talking about!
I invite you to come along on this journey with me. It does not matter to me if you are Conservative, Liberal, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, straight or gay. If you dare to follow me on this journey, prepare yourself. At times you will be angry. Other times you will cry. Occasionally, you will smile, or even laugh. However, those times are rare in “The System”.
I will share our family story so that you will have a small glimpse into the darkness that truly exists. I pray that God will allow His Light to shine through me- our story- to change the world for these voiceless children. My prayer is that through our lives you will add your voice to mine. These children need to be heard!
Will you join me? Together, we can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children!
The story begins: Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered… Or Are They?
Foster Care: A Broken System- Video
An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors
I want to join voices with you. My husband and I have adopted 3 children from our state and currently have 2 siblings that we are fostering. Their case was changed from RH to adoption back in Dec and was moving forward until a newly named alleged father came forward for our little man that we have had since he was 6wks old. Little man is now 15mo and after DNA came back positive for the father he disappeared for several weeks. He is now back in the picture and wants his son NOW. We were told back in Mar that we may lose him in 72hrs when were supposed to have shelter care court but that never happened. We have yet to have any court for the father. I was just informed that fact finding will be May 19th. After no contact since March 9th the father came forward again and started visits for the 1st time since little mans birth. The father is claiming that he didn’t find out until Nov that he had a son…mom says he has known since she was pregnant. Mom says he is illegal, a drug dealer and uses drugs but DSHS says they can’t ask him if he is legal and so far his background is clear. We are so afraid that we are going to lose him and he and sister will be split up. Mom has signed and OAA with us and we are just waiting for that to be heard in court. The mistakes we have seen happen in this case are inexcusable and the lack of accountability is criminal. Not only that I’m sick and tired of the people that are involved with our children and have fallen into a rut of complacency…if I hear “unfortunately this is how it is in the foster care system,” I want to scream….NO PEOPLE this is not how it is….and these are CHILDREN that you are supposed to be looking out for their BEST interest they are not case numbers….and YOU ALL are the biggest codependents that I have ever seen. Yep, that is how I feel 🙂 Would love to talk with you again. My e-mail is email@example.com
OH my goodness! My heart aches for you and your husband and your little man! Just reading the emotional and mental merry-go-round you guys are on just infuriates me, sickens me, saddens me all at the same time!
I MOST DEFINITELY would LOVE AND WELCOME your voice in this fight! Unfortunately it is going to take those of us who’ve been through the ringer in this system. I want you to know that I am going to be FERVENTLY praying that little man DOES NOT go to this man.
I am hoping to start posting on a daily basis, to our story out there. I invite you to comment all along the way! Once I get enough posted to get to the real meat of our journey I am going to send it to ALL Congressman, Senators, Governors, the President and any other lawmakers I can find to send it to! Gina, we have to be LOUD! We have to be INSISTENT!
One thing that I have said repeatedly throughout this journey is that the pain, anguish and upheaval is unbearable for me, but I’m an adult. In time, I will learn how to deal with the emotions. My question is what happens to these children!?
You hit the NAIL ON THE HEAD when you said you’re sick of hearing, “….unfortunately this is how it is in the foster care system” Well, it MAY BE that way, but it SHOULDN’T be this way! It doesn’t take a genius to see how UNHEALTHY this back and forth, upheaval and “reunification” with unstable parents is! For all the degrees that are touted in The System they sure have a LOT to learn! But… then again, it all comes down to one point I’ve been saying for years now. There seems to be no common sense whatsoever left among lawmakers!
I commend you for taking this stance. I would like to offer one piece of advice. I am sure that your religious convictions are strong and true, however, they will likely offend those that do not share the same. I don’t think you or any of us can afford to lose support just because of different religious opinions. So, I think it best to keep Biblical phrases/arguments out of this, especially if you hope to be in front of Congress someday.
With all that said, you are taking the same path that I intend to do some day. I am shrouded in secrecy now as I haven’t not finished my journey. At age 38, I made the specific decision to have a family by adopting out of foster care. I bought into all of the media hype. I did the research. I was still young enough to have a bio child, but felt that I was being led down a different path. As a single parent, I knew that I was not prepared to take on the older children. So, once I was “settled” and started my path, in September of 2008, I did all of the prep work through the county to get certified. I still only wanted to adopt. But, here in my county, they require the adoptive parents to attend the same classes as the foster parents. In fact, only the last 2 of 6 weeks of classes deal with adoption. It is a strategy you see; they would not have enough foster parents if they did not do it this way. On day one, 80% of the participants were adopt only. By end of training, of the 80% remaining, 80% were foster-to-adopt.
The agency then tries to accuse the pre-adoptive parents of using them as an adoption agency. True enough, some of the people in the system are only trying to build families and cannot afford other means of doing it. Some are in it to pad their retirement income. But, by and far, the significant majority of foster parents I meet in classes are in it for the kids.
I am still mourning the loss of my first placement. You see, since I was limited to two children during my first two years, I could not be in queue for adoption. So, I had my two foster daughters for exactly two years and one day. Their birth mother did nothing more than visits for the entirety of the case plan’s first 18 months. The agency gave the first extension for the pure misguided believe that one of the children’s birth father might get a job and take both. There was no evidence that he had even applied but they took his word solely. By the time the extension was nearing an end, the birth mom “miraculously” came into enough money that her rent on “proper housing” was paid for one year. That was all that they cared about. There was evidence that the birth mom and her new husband were verbally abusive to each other and the kids, there was an actual physical abuse incident one week before the court hearing to release the children to the mother, and nobody cared.
The bottom line in this case was that the first case worker and her supervisor allowed it to be dragged out for so long that by the time the mother secured housing, there was no justifiable reason, to judges anyway, that they could NOT send the children back. That CW moved in Feb and the new CW and her supervisor were both flabbergasted, CW’s words, that this case had drawn out for so long. The so called GAL did not show up to the hearing, so it was continued, but the birth mom’s attorney asked for and was given temp custody of the children until the continuation. The children were devastated, as was I. Neither wanted to return to the mother. But, since they were so young, instead of recognizing that even after all of the supervised and unsupervised visits the kids still didn’t want to live there, that maybe there is a reason, they tried to accuse me of sabotaging the reunification. Yes, I did that by loving them too much, ensuring that they were clean, healthy, and had a clean home and clothing.
Anyway, I will follow along here. I truly believe that the only way this system is going to change is to have class action lawsuits. What needs to happen is that enough kids who SHOULD have had parental rights terminated at 15 months based on the ASFA , and who would have still been young enough to be highly adoptable, but were not, and did not get adopted, but ended up aging out of the system as a result, if enough of these kids file a lawsuit that the decisions made by the agencies and court violated their Constitutional rights, and that by the Federal Government allowing loopholes in the ASFA and failing to put in mandates and sanctions to force the states to abide by it, the federal government failed in their responsibility of maintaining the children’s rights and freedoms.
I hope that long, run on paragraph made sense. But, there are enough of these kids out there now that if you could get them all together, you would have a leg to stand on.
This system is all about keeping the system going. Each person does what they do to draw the cases out the longest so that they keep the monies coming into the system, and justify their jobs. If they followed the guidelines of the ASFA alone, I know in my county that the vast majority of children under 6 would be adopted. But instead they continue to push the limits, send kids back to birth parents who cannot and/or will not properly parent them, so that more than 1/3 come back into care, and when they finally terminate parental rights, the children have been so emotionally traumatized that nobody wants to adopt them.
Allenah , Gina ,
along with all others who intricately have experienced the system and its exploits of those subjected to its manipulation . I have been involved with treatment foster care for nine years , and this is what I have learned. The format is antiquated ( laws ) contributing a great deal towards dissemination of family units .In Treatment Foster Care the kids are mostly adolescent and or young adults with severe emotional issues .Resources that should be within reach via agency are not available considering these kids need extensive and intensive treatment plans which are not alloted . Moreover most TP’s are cookie cutter , rendering an unrealistic approach towards assisting these children in need . I have witnessed so many of these children falling through the cracks due to minimal to zero concern for these young people .Many of my kids were utero ; exsposed to high levels of crack cocaine rendering them special needs . Needs that arent being met or even considered for treatment revisitation .The standard treatment plan entails that these kids are required at an appointed time to meet education criteria , independence criteria ,which for most takes considerable investment of time and money . Money that the Federal Government has n intentions on spending . YES my friends we are the voices of the children and it is we who will make the difference .I fully support the fight .Lets do it !