Sunday, February 25, 2007

Foster Care and Plato

Since my everybody's bad post, I have been trying to write something constructive about adoptiong and fostering, about the ethical issues involved. I haven't been able to get it out, but there's a post at Peter's Cross Station that says it very well.

Like Shannon, I find the issues that need to be addressed to be far larger than the solutions that are so often offered.

Months ago I read something, I think a blog post, in which someone asked the question, "Can poverty be a form of abuse?" My answer is, "Only if we allow it to be." We live in a society with many resources. If poor people in this country cannot afford to provide adequate care to their children, then we as a society have failed.

As a foster parent, I care for children who have been removed from dangerous situations.

I also know that the problems that face a community cannot be solved by removing the children. The problems are huge: racism; poverty; heterosexism; lack of jobs, health care, child care, housing. Many of the children I see in the system should never have been in care. By they time they were taken into care, they were unsafe and they had been abused and neglected. But they would not have been, at least most of them, if the world had been a better place for their mothers.

Plato (you were wondering how he was going to come into this) considered what would be necessary to create the perfect society. He thought that it couldn't be done unless all the children were removed and raised separately. He also knew that wasn't going to happen.

Sometimes I think that is what people want to do with foster care and adoption.

But it doesn't work. As a foster parent at an event I recently attended said, "We keep pulling kids out of the river, but we need to get upstream and figure out who's throwing them in!" By this he did not mean that there were social workers or any other person or persons throwing kids in. He meant that communities were in trouble. We have to go "up river" to solve the problem.


  1. Anonymous1:43 PM

    I work as a child therapist at an agency that not only provides outpatient counseling services, but psychiatric care, resource coordinators, case managers, intensive case managers, and any other supportive services the family needs. We often have clients referred to us from CYF because there are some issues at the home that may result in the child being removed from the home. All of these services are provided free to the client. Transportation to appointments, job training/skills and educational resources are also provided. I'm getting sick of people giving the simple answer, "Well, if we could only provide them resources, families would be okay." I'm not seeing it in my agency. I'm still seeing parents neglecting their children even though they have subsidized housing, free medical care, free transportation, free mental health services for themselves and their children, and a list of other free services. I wish hat what we were doing was the answer to all the country's ills, but it doesn't seem to be. Mothers still chose to live with men who have been charged with molesting their children. Families still fail to provide food to their children even though they are provided food stamps, transportation to grocery stores and budgeting help from their case managers. We try very hard to be proactive, to provide needed services before the child is removed or the family is in crisis, but honestly, "more services" does not seem to be the answer.

  2. Anonymous1:46 PM

    I should add, that even the clients who don't pay a dime for any of their services are the worst at keeping appointments with their therapists, their children therapists, the psychiatrist even though we are open late hours, weekends and transportation by their RC or ICM is provided.

  3. I do understand what you are saying. I have cried in dispair more than once over youth who have walked away from services into a life of hardship.

    I don't think that I can be fairly accused of having said that there is a simple solution or that that solution was "provide services." I have said that the problem are multiple and complex, and that the fewer children would need to be in foster care if the world were a better place.

  4. Anonymous7:04 AM

    I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that you were aserting that it was a simple solution just to provide more services, it was more of a reaction to a great number of other blogs I read that assert that "more services" or "just some support" (that's another favorite simple solution being offered). I apologize for the transference. It wasn't at you, just more of a general rant on your blog.

  5. I understand. Blogs are good places for venting and ranting.


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