HBO Documentary “Foster” – A Review by a Foster Survivor

HBO released a documentary in time for national foster care month titled simply enough “Foster.” It is set in Los Angeles county and focuses on the LA county foster care system.

Let’s review it.

First, I will openly admit that I was skeptical. 100%. I believe it’s damn near impossible to make a film about this experience which captures it appropriately or which appropriately displays the problems in the system.

Second, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared.

Third, every one of the foster children and survivors in the film were amazing and brave. It takes a lot of courage to be on camera and discuss the life they have lived.

Finally, and unfortunately, the film fails to move the needle in any direction.

Like all complicated social policy matters, the film makers chickened out on the hard issues. The viewer is left with a sense that whatever problems the system has, it’s the children who are responsible for their plight and perhaps a few good and caring judges, social workers or foster parents along the way.

The promotional material for this film emphasizes the “Oscar winning” film makers. One would be right in assuming they might have cast a critical eye to all involved. One would be wrong.

The film does not address, nor make any mention of, the turn over rate in foster homes, the systemic and common abuse of children IN the system, nor the failings of the social workers involved.

In fact, the film demonstrates several glaring problem with social workers in the system while failing to even notice that they caught it on tape. But I digress.

Let’s start at the beginning.


Continue reading HBO Documentary “Foster” – A Review by a Foster Survivor

What about these kids? Didn’t they NEED foster care?

One thing I’ve heard before – “What about the kids who NEED foster care?”

Well, what about them?  Please, show me some kids who NEED foster care.  I’ve never seen a kid who NEEDS foster care. I’ve seen kids who need family, a home, food, clothing. But I’ve never met anyone who NEEDS foster care.

The question, like so many illogical statements about foster care are simply begging the question – using a premise to support the question. The premise is that foster care is the solution to maltreatment, neglect and abuse. Ergo, kids in those situations NEED foster care because foster care is the solution.

Continue reading What about these kids? Didn’t they NEED foster care?

Separation and lifelong stress

I’ll make this brief.

How do you know you have a bias against a group of people?

For your consideration:

One: This comic from Katie Wheeler and Ryan Deveraux about the life long effects and trauma of being separated from their parents when immigrating to the US.


Two: The (apx.) 20 million current and former foster children across the US (6% of the population) who no one seems to think suffer the same life long effects and trauma.


When you are of the belief that the same action hurts one group of people in one way but not another, you have to ask why you think that.  When you think that you have an obligation to fight for one of those groups, but not the other, you have to ask yourself why.

And the only answer anyone ever comes up with is “but their parents…”  Yeah. I know. I know their parents did something you didn’t like.  How does that justify the trauma we are inflicting on kids taken into the foster system?

The scene portrayed in the comic is EXACTLY the scene that plays out everyday in this country with parents and children taken into foster care.


“Professionals” and the chip on my shoulder.

I joined Quora in 2010.  I try to answer questions about foster care from the view point of a survivor.

So far it’s been mostly positive. I’ve received some feedback that has been helpful. Mostly, I’ve met some other survivors. And I try to – nay, I beg them – to write more about their experiences.

The other day I was reviewing this question from last year:

“How do I tell my 9-year-old foster son that we will be adopting his younger half-sister, but not him (he’ll be removed to a group home)?”

Most of the 100+ answers to this question are pretty direct that this is a horrible question from a horrible person and a horrible thing to do.

I agree it’s a horrible thing to do to a child.

I honestly don’t know that the person is horrible.

Continue reading “Professionals” and the chip on my shoulder.