As you may know, I have a deep interest in exploring the relationships between adults and children. One of the most rocky places for children to survive is within the foster system.
I thought perhaps accounts of children who have been whirled through hundreds of foster homes before reaching the age of five were fiction. But lately I met a woman who told me firsthand it is true and that gave me reason to revisit this post.
My friend was happily adopted but others are not so lucky, and continue to be circulated through foster homes until the age of eighteen, when they are thrown out of the system.
Foster children are twice as likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder then veterans of the war.
Many children before even reaching their teens circulate through dozens of foster families in as little as a month.
Children who circulate through homes so swiftly cannot make bonds, cannot find anyone to trust, and have no one to turn to for help. Many foster children feel is does not matter if they like their new foster parent(s) or not; in a few months or as soon as they push too hard, that foster parent will be gone.
Without ties to someone, foster children wander alone and lost in their darkness without a hand to hold onto and no one to guide them. Tales of abuse and trauma foster children may wish to share instead fester inside them because there is no one to turn to and no one they feel cares enough about them to listen to their stories.
When a foster child finds someone she can open herself to or even feel as if she can love, more likely then not, she will not try because she knows the person will be gone soon.
Foster children typically push as far as they can at new homes with their foster parents to see how far they can go with their behavior before they are either sent back to the agency or punished. For many foster children, they stop caring where they are and who they are with. They figure if they have to leave a new home, they might as well be the ones to decide when.
For other foster children, pushing with bad behavior is a test: You care about me enough to take me in. Will you still care if I do this?
Sadly, the answer to this hopeful question is usually no.
Many foster families may care more for the little money coming with the foster child then the child. Abuse and neglect occur behind the doors of foster homes. And the system is so desperate to find homes for the unwanted and battered children piling into the system, they take whoever they can get.
There are over 400,000 children in the foster care system today.
Part Two: What is the most important thing foster parents can do for the children they take in?
Photo by Aaron Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash