Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Child’s Point of View about Foster Care

Dear Big People, judges, Caseworkers, foster parents, adoptive parents, Guardian Ad Litems, and the public,

I want to talk to you about what it feels like to live in the foster care system when you are a little kid, even though I am not sure you are really interested. I want to tell you how it feels to have many parents and homes in a very short period of time. How these losses add up for these children and the spirit of these children die a little with each new home, each new set parents, and each “disruption” of our lives.

While moving from one place to the next we lose more of who we were and change a little more towards who we will become. In the process of being moved from one “home” to the next, we lose our brothers and sisters, our worldly belongings, and where we came from one piece at a time. We start forgetting what our birth mothers and fathers smelled like with each turn of the washing machine with the new laundry soap used in the newest “home” that will never last because we don’t belong.

See, kids like me are not allowed to have our families and we will never belong to the new families. We begin to believe there is something wrong with us. We will never get a family of our own because our birth families didn’t want us so how can anyone else’s family want us. When we do get the chance to be part of a “permanent” new family it’s usually too late for us to believe we are lovable and that we will be allowed to stay because of all the things we have been told or that we have over heard the Big People in our new lives say.

Some have said my real mom didn’t protect me from bad things that my only daddy did to me. Others tell me I need to tell them everything that was done to me so they can help my mommy know how to protect me when I go home. Some say my mommy didn’t want me, while others say my mommy gave me away so she could be with a man. The lies we are told add up for us to make us believe nothing is really, nothing is good, and everything is bad.

I guess I am not supposed to miss my mommy or my brother that got to stay home with my mommy. It would make your jobs easier if I didn’t miss my mommy and my brother because you wouldn’t have to tell me again and again I won’t be able to see them again if I don’t stop crying and being upset after I do finally get to see them. Why can’t you Big People understand that I am ticked off, lonely, and worried all the time now because I know my mommy wasn’t perfect, but at least in our home I knew what would happen today and tomorrow, but now I never know what you big people are going to do next to my life? The yearning for my family, our traditions, our beliefs, and our attachments will never go away, even though in time I will get good at hiding these yearnings from you and even myself.


You, Big People, promised me I could stay with my family and then took me to live with strangers, you lied. You promised me I could go home if I told you everything you wanted to know, but what you meant was “if I told you everything you wanted to know the way you believed things happened,” you wouldn’t believe the truth, so you didn’t let me go home, again you lied. You said the judge would make everything safe for me, but he didn’t because the hearings were continued repeatedly. You said I would stay in that second foster home until I could go home, but then sent me to my birth father’s home. Then you sent me to another foster home because still you said it wasn’t safe for me to go home to my mommy. Then you moved me to another of my birth father’s family members. Then another foster home for Thanks Giving because you had changed your minds about me being with certain family members, only to go back to where I was before the holiday and than onto another foster home. How am I to believe you will ever tell me the truth? You, big people, think I should remain sweet, kind, and adorable, all the while ready to connect to yet another family that will throw me away.


Did you think I would continue to take it all lying down? After a while, I had lost too many people that I did care about, that I was attached to, and that I might have been able to care about or attach to that, I stopped trying. I had too many new mommies and daddies that would never be my parents because they will never hold me tightly in their hearts because I’m not really theirs and never can be because I am my birth families’ child.

None of you will ever get why my heart, mind, and behaviors have changed by what you have done to me and allowed to be done to me. So, why would I now ever allow you to imagine for even a minute that I trust you, need you, or even like you or myself? You don’t understand why I am fighting you for control because you have never felt as powerless as I do. You don’t understand why I have stopped talking to you because you have never had everyone ignore you. You don’t understand why I have become angry and hostile because you have never lost every one and everything that made your world your world. You don’t understand why I why I distrust everything and every one, including myself, because you have never had to try to be a hundred different people before you are a teenager. Your imagination will always be safer and warmer than mine because you have never let yourself see what you have done to me and all the other kids that have fallen into the world of foster care.

You never noticed how your actions affected me, but I NOTICED AND IT MATTERS A LOT TO ME!!! I am not stupid, nor am I blind; I do pay attention because it all matters to me. I noticed when you took me from my parents, no one came to take and keep their place, and something started to happen to me.

A little bit of my spirit started to die.

I started doing things to myself to cause physical pain to take away some of the emotional pain. I know it doesn’t make sense to join with all the others that have hurt me, but I do it any ways. Its what I have been taught that I deserve because I had to have done something bad for me to be so unlovable. I don’t care anymore who I am safe with because I never feel safe. Does it really matter any more? I start making sure that anyone trying to get close to me will regret even trying because this way they can never hurt me. I start trying to make everyone feel as helpless and small as I have felt for so long.

Are you wondering yet what I do want, what I do need, or what I would do if I had all the power?

The answers are simple. 1. I would make sure I never forgot that the child I am “protecting” is a human and he or she is watching everything I do. I will remember that everything I do matters immensely to that child’s life and well-being. 2. I will never forget that the child will always yearn for his or her birth family. I would make sure there are pictures and frequent contact between the child and their birth family when ever possible so they can keep some kind of a connection with who and where they came from. 3. I would fight to have all decisions I make for the child held in place and only make changes when there is no other option. I have the power to make these decisions, the child does not, therefore it is important for me to make the best decisions and stick to them. 4. I would be honest with the child’s family, the child, and any foster parents the child may need to be placed with. I will make sure that I provide support services for each party involved in the child’s life to answer questions and give encouragement and needed support to better understand the child’s needs.

You can treat me as if I am invisible and you may even get away with it for long enough for me to be placed with another agency or for you to get another job. Yet, in your heart of hearts, you will always know that I was watching everything you did or did not do for me, my feelings about what was happening to me, that I needed someone to act as if it mattered hugely to them too, and what I became because of your actions or inactions.

So, do you have any better understanding of how all of us kids that have fallen into the world of foster care? I know you have a hard job caring and making decisions for all of us. I know you get nervous to realize that we are all watching you and affected by all that you do. I can also tell you that you won’t be sorry if you take me seriously because you see, someday we will be BIG PEOPLE.

Now, give THAT a thought before making your decisions about my life.

The invisible foster care children.

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