I wanted to end my blog year on an inspiring note, with that story of the Cambodian girl who found happiness in adoption, but as always, the difficult news keeps coming, like this article about problems in the Ethiopia program that was just published in The Atlantic. Breaking that one down is more than I can handle two days before Christmas, so I'm going to have to come back to it. For now, let me direct your end-of-year attention to two excellent guest posts on the US foster care system over at Rage Against the Minivan.
Kristen Howerton created a guest post series for her blog intended to spark empathy and understanding called What I Want You to Know, where readers share their personal stories. This week, two adoption-related posts appeared, and although they were written by different authors, they should really be read side by side. The first, called Adoption Infertility, was posted by a young military wife named Heather. She and her husband have been trying to adopt a hard-to-place child from foster care for almost two years, only to be thwarted by a social worker who doesn't approve of military families. In Heather's words,
The problems started almost immediately. Our social worker very clearly expressed her dislike of military families. After a very long, emotionally draining 18 month process (that “ideally” should have taken 3-4 months,) we became foster parents for our local county department and began the process to be matched with an available child. After being matched with a sweet 6 year old little boy, our social worker decided that since we were “transient” due to our active duty military status, she was going to deny us the possibility to continue the process to adopt. We could leave the program or take placements on a short term or respite basis. We chose to take short term placements and had almost 6 months of very rewarding foster parenting before we had to leave the program. We leave for our next duty station in South America next month and the door on adopting has been shut for us for at least the next two years.
And the 6-year-old boy Heather and her husband hoped to adopt? He has still not been matched with a permanent family.
In A Letter to Santa from a Foster Child, LT of the blog I Was a Foster Kid, tells St. Nick:
You never came when I lived with Mr. Ri–on. He used to dress up like you and make us give him presents… except those presents made me feel gross or hurt me; although they made him feel good. Back then I just wanted ONE thing too … a safe home with people that didn’t use me or my little body.
You never came with I lived with the Stocktons. You came for their biokids, but I was just “the foster kid.” I even spent that Christmas day locked in the basement, away from their holiday family gathering. Back then I just wanted ONE thing too … a family that wanted “the foster kid.”
You never came when I lived on the streets. Sometimes I saw you walking down the street going to parties or restaurants or sitting in shopping malls. But you never saw me. Back then I just wanted ONE thing too… a home with people that cared about me.
Although my writing here at Whatever Things Are True is focused on international adoption issues, those two posts disturbed me such that I had to mention them. Our foster care system is broken. Our international adoption system is broken too. But there are too many kids in need -- here, there and everywhere -- for us to give up on the fixing. I can't help but ponder how so much time from so many spectators goes into pitting international adoption against adoption from foster care. My Christmas wish is for more of us to care about ALL kids who need families, wherever they are, and to actually DO something. Here's a couple of small things you can do right now, in less time than it takes to wrap a present:
- Donate $5 to the Children's Rights campaign, a national adovocacy group working to reform US foster care
- Donate $5 to help fund the adoption of a little boy with Down's Syndrome who is currently housed in an Eastern European orphanage