Monthly Archives: February 2019

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.

The foster language

A few months ago I had this weird thought… When the public speaks about racism, sexism, rape, abuse – all these wonderful things – we use a specific language. Rather, we use specific words in our language which have unique and different meanings.

For example, “sexual assault” can mean rape, or unwanted aggressive advances, or many things. But it’s clear when a victim of sexual assault uses that term that they are conjuring up something more traumatic. It is the specific use of these words and phrases in our language which allow the “normal” people to understand the specific trauma endured.

For foster survivors there is no common language. Yet. Let’s make one.

First word – “Survivor” – To have survived the trauma of foster care beyond age 18 and still be alive and functioning. Congratulations, you are now one of the 6%.

Gratitude by default

Summer of 2018, my wife and I completed IMPACT training in our county. We still aren’t sure when/if we will foster, but it was a necessary step.

At one point during the class, the social worker and class trainer says: “Foster kids… think they are entitled.”

The ellipsis is there because there were some words in between “kids” and “think.” Words like, “hurt” and “vulnerable” and “grateful.” But the emphasis ended on “entitled.”

I’ve heard it before. Social workers, teachers, foster parents, ministers, you name it. These same people continually pump up foster children to believe that our lives will be just as wonderful as anyone else’s. And that kind of unrealistic talk without resources to make it happen will build a sense of entitlement.

Gratitude vs. Entitlement.

I’ve only recently read this piece written a few years ago by Hilary Holland. She makes a simple point – gratitude is by default. Foster kids are ALWAYS grateful for the kindness of strangers.

You may not realize it, you may not hear it, but we are always grateful. We understand more than any of our peers just what we do and do not have.

The situation Holland describes in her article reminds me of foster home number four. Just as Holland describes in her story, we were supposed to express gratitude for every single little thing – like the good fortune or working until 2 AM on a school night in a pallet mill. Which made me resentful for all of it! I can’t imagine why.

When love is given, when kindness is shown, gratitude is by default. Just know that.

Likewise, we are also entitled. But it’s not luxury goods that we feel entitled to. Instead, we believe that we are entitled to:

  • …the same access to opportunity as any “normal” child;
  • …to be loved;
  • …to be respected;
  • …to be safe;
  • …to our health and a positive sense of self.

I’ve never met one of these mythical foster kids who feel entitled to a new pair of shoes every month, or designer clothes. Maybe they exist. Probably, they don’t. At least not in any large number. I’ve met foster children who desperately wanted these things in order to fit in. But none who believed they were entitled to them.

What I do know is that if DFCS and social workers and non profits and foster parents tell us that we are “the same as everyone else,” that we can do “anything any other kid” can do, without the tools and resources to make that happen, well guess what? They’ve just created a sense of entitlement in us. And we’re going to expect results. And when those results don’t happen, we know exactly what we are to everyone of those people who uttered those false words.

If entitlement is expecting the same life that normal kids have, I personally hope every foster kid in the world today demands his or her entitlement right fucking now. That would make me extra grateful.

And Hilary is spot on – wicker furniture sucks.