I really do not want to use this blog as a venting space, but then again as a good person and close family member said to me yesterday, "Its your blog, you can do what you want with it." This after someone commented my posts were a bit long and they did some skimming. Skim away because I have stuff to say and I am going to say it!
I guess I will begin with what I read that outraged me. It was one of those comments to an editorial. I never saw the editorial. (I do not read the paper everyday. The reason? I get too worked up. That is no joke.) But- this lovely, naive woman stated that there should be no abortion because there are foster homes and orphanages and kids are stronger than we give them credit for, they can live there. I am not writing this to argue the abortion point. I have never claimed I didn't understand where this point comes from. But clearly people need more education about foster homes and by the way, where are the orphanages in the U.S.? I did not research this but- I am pretty sure (for fact checkers lets say 80 percent sure) we do not have orphanages. We have group homes. We have youth hospitals. We have foster homes. B As soon as I started this post I thought, "I can't just write this post because I am angry because my daughter had 3 really, really bad foster homes. So bad that they were closed down after my daughter left. Plus, I am not writing this post to beat on abortion OR foster homes. I am writing to let people know they need to take off the damn rose colored glasses." So I decided to get some facts for you. It was easy as the MA department of social services (which has changed its name to the department of children and families) has a quarterly report right on their website. So read the next two facts and I will meet you back here after that.
*There were 9,726 individuals in placement on the last day of the 4th Quarter of
FY’2010. Included in this count are 8,097 children (less than 18 years old) and 1,629
young adults (18 to 23 years old).
* At the end of the 4th Quarter of FY’2010, there were 31,382 children less than 18
years old with an active case status who were not in placement.
To be fair, that 31, 382 children count doesn't just mean kids waiting for placement. (Also- let me clarify because I forget that having gone through the system I might understand "the speak" a little better. "In placement" means some kind of home other than where their biological families are.) The 31, 382 number also means that DCF may believe their best place is in the home, but the case remains active to check up on and support families. Conclusion? Where are all these foster homes my friend who commented on that editorial speaks of? And orphanages? Because I think we need them just about now.
People who barely delve into thinking they understand about the department really need to get involved and get more facts. We (and by we I mean society) need to have more foster homes. I realize I say this out loud even though I am not a foster home. I cannot be a foster home right now. That would never work for my own daughter who came out of the system herself. Many people cannot be foster families for various reasons that are valid. But I think there are just as many people who do not even realize they could be a foster family. It takes loving arms and strong arms. If you have those, you are good to go. Easy? Nope, not at all. But really, who promised you life would be easy.
When I adopted my daughter at age 5 she came out of a youth treatment hospital. Her roommate was age 13 and angry. I visited her in that hospital for one week before I took her home with me. The social worker encouraged me to wait longer, but once you find your child it breaks your heart when the door locks behind you as you leave your child in a place for angry teens. The foster mom who "couldn't handle" my daughter called the 24 hotline for DCF and so, my five year old was taken by ambulance in the middle of the night to this hospital basically for teens with severe issues, mainly anger. In this place all doors were locked and you had to ask to use the bathroom so they could unlock the door for you. This was not the place for my little girl but for 3 months they had no other placement for her. On the day I went to bring her home the foster mom "forgot" to bring her stuff and so my little girl came home with a pair of flip flops on her feet and a small bag of clothes that were too small. It was February. Our first stop was target! I don't believe all foster parents are like this at all. But the idea that we do not need other options because kids can live in foster homes.....well, it just rubs me the wrong way. I think it should rub all of us the wrong way.
Foster moms and dads, thank you for everything you do for kids in our world. It takes a village, but it starts with you.
Side note: we do have orphanages (yup, I looked it up), we just typically call them group homes now.