Foster care lies: sometimes they focus on the foster children, sometimes on the foster parents, but many are focused on demonizing the birth parents of children in foster care. These falsehoods are an all-too-common belief of the public, and sometimes, foster and adoptive parents themselves.
Children are never placed in foster care through any fault of their own, but some go into care for different reasons then you might think. Sometimes birth parents are doing what they think is best to care for their children based on their circumstances, but those choices lead to having their children removed until they can get on their feet. Many commonly believed foster care lies paint all birth parents whose children are in care as monsters, but there are many reasons this is not the case. Here are some of the most common lies about foster care that involve birth parents:
Foster Care Lies: Only children who are beaten and sexually abused by their birth parents come into foster care
While, sadly, many battered children and sexually molested children are placed in foster care for their safety, these aren’t the only reasons that children are removed from their birth parents’ home. In many cases, the reason for removal is not outright abuse, but abuse by way of neglect.
Neglect can happen for a number of reasons. A parent may have a drug addiction that causes them to think of little else but getting high. Although this is increasingly the reason for children are coming into foster care, children may go hungry or be without clean clothing for other reasons as well, including poverty.
Birth parents who work jobs where benefits like sick days are not offered may feel they need to go to work – no matter what – in order to provide for their families. Desperate birth parents may sometimes leave their children at home alone, or in a locked car outside their job site, when there is no family member or friend to babysit and they are unable to afford child care. While they are not intentionally neglecting their children – in fact, in their mind, they’re doing just the opposite – these actions can lead to child welfare caseworkers to be called and the children to go into foster care.
Foster Care Lies – All birth parents of kids in foster care are criminals
It’s a fact that some children are placed into foster care when a birth parent goes to jail. When we hear the word jail, we automatically think of a major (and probably violent) crime, such as abusing children, committing murder, robbing a bank at gunpoint, etc.
But there are many other reasons that someone could go to jail, including something as “dangerous” as too many unpaid parking tickets that there is simply no money to pay.
Foster Care Lies: Parents whose kids are in foster care don’t love their children
This is one of the biggest lies about foster care, and one of the most repeated. No matter what the circumstances are for a child coming into care, this is far too serious a claim to be made as a sweeping generalization, and far too often, could not be further from the truth.
Sometimes birth parents cannot raise their children safely, not because they have an addiction or because they themselves are abusers, but because they need knowledge and experience to meet their children’s special medical needs.
When a child’s medical needs are so overwhelming that they require 24/7 special care, they are sometimes placed into foster care with foster parents specifically trained in caring for medically fragile children. The children may have issues like Prune Belly Syndrome and Maple Syrup Urine Disease, which are uncommon, and if not cared for properly, can cause the children to die.
These foster parents then assist in training the birth parents in how to care for their children and keep them safe. Once the birth parents have mastered caring for the children in accordance with the child welfare system, they welcome them home and often spend the rest of their lives caring for them.
Foster Care Lies: Kids with good foster or adoptive parents don’t need their birth parents in their lives
No matter what reasons children come into foster care, the goal, whenever possible, is to reunite birth parents and their children. Even when foster children cannot return home, it is important for foster and adoptive parents never to demonize birth parents and to allow them, and the rest of the children’s birth family, to be as much a part of their children’s lives as possible whenever it’s safe to do so.