Some myths about foster care are more shocking than others. The ones that amaze us the most? Misconceptions about foster kids and the reasons they’re in care.
Too often society loves to “blame the victim” for their plight. Foster kids enter care as victims of parental abuse or neglect; the kids themselves have nothing to do with why they’re in foster care. In fact, many foster kids rise above their circumstances to achieve their goals and live happy and productive adult lives. Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths about foster care. You won’t believe what some people think about foster kids!
Of all the myths about foster care, this one is the most off base (and sadly, the one heard most often by foster care organizations). Kids are in care because their parents abused or neglected them – not because they did something wrong. A parent’s bad choices or inability to keep a child safe are no reflection on the character of the child. As Dylan, a former foster child, explains:
“My father was incarcerated for eight months for drug use, and during that time my mother had to hold the family together. Sadly, she was not up to the task. She began drinking again, and the loving and caring mother that she had always been turned into a monster. She abused my sister often, and death threats became increasingly numerous and hostile. It was a complete nightmare; every second lived in fear until child services became involved.”
Foster care is not a juvenile detention center. It’s a place where, ideally, children can stay safe and well taken care of until their parents resolve their own issues and the children can eventually return home.
Many foster kids have physical and emotional issues that they need help with. You would too, if you went through what they did. Being drug exposed in the womb, being neglected and having to eat out of a dumpster to survive, being sexually abused or being beaten – these are all things that many foster kids have experienced at the hands of their parents.
There are lots of stories in the news lately about the use of psychotropic drugs on foster kids and the dangers of over medication; unfortunately, these stories are not myths about foster care, but are too often true. No children in foster care should be medicated only to make them easier to handle. In many cases, with professional counseling and consistency on the part of the foster parents, foster kids can learn to cope with their experiences and not let them determine the rest of their lives. This leads us to one of the myths about foster care that is most damaging and most untrue:
This is one of the myths about foster care that we are happiest to dispel. As we’ve learned from our foster care scholarships recipients, foster kids often grow up to be not only successful but also inspirational.
“Even though I went through many difficult situations in my life, it has made me stronger and smarter. I have seen firsthand what drugs and alcohol can do to a family. It ruined my childhood, and it left an indelible mark on all of us. However, it has shaped the goals that I have for my future,” says Dylan. “I want to go to college, something that neither of my parents had done. I want to engage myself in a career that I love that will help others and give back to the people who gave so much to me. ”
Dylan’s commitment to giving back is not unusual among foster kids. Most of our scholarship recipients go into professions like law enforcement, social work and medicine, so they can help other kids in foster care feel less alone and that a better future is possible.
What are some of the myths about foster care that you’ve heard, and what would you tell people who believe they’re true? Leave your comment below.