Menstuff® has information on Foster Care.
9 things to know about kids in foster
care. Plus an unforgettable view into their
9 things to know about kids in foster
care. Plus an unforgettable view into their lives.
Foster care is a nightmare for some kids and their
foster parents. For others, it's a blessing.
Zoe's story, "Removed,"
has been seen by millions of people.
It was previously shared by my amazing Upworthy colleague
Laura Willard. We got just a tiny taste of what it was like
for kids in foster care, right after being removed.
Specifically, a little girl named Zoe and her little brother
My wife and I, foster parents for the past year, even
shared the original with our adoption worker, who passed it
along to the entire agency and, then, it took off like
wildfire among those people as well.
This is part 2 of that story, and it hits hard.
(Yes, the video's on the long side at about 20 minutes.
But it's worth the watch to the end.)
She describes her life as a cycle, interrupted by a
tornado. She's a foster child. I don't think I need to say
So ... let's accompany that with 19 uncomfortable
but enlightening facts below. There are only nine
bolded, but within those headers, there are several more
1. There are an estimated 400,000 kids in foster care
Some are awaiting adoption. Some will go back to their
parents. Others will age out or, sometimes, run away.
2. Foster kids can suffer from PTSD at almost two
times the rate of returning veterans.
And PTSD can mimic a lot of other mental illnesses, and
it can manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, fight-or-flee
responses, anger outbursts, and hyper-vigilance (being on
"red alert" at all times), among other symptoms.
3. The average age of a foster child is 9 years
They're just on that edge of childhood, and chances are,
it's been a pretty messed up childhood at that. Trauma does
4. About half of all foster kids are in non-relative
8% are in institutions, 6% are in group homes, and only
4% are in pre-adoptive homes. Read that again only 4%
are in pre-adoptive homes.
5. Some of foster children experience multiple
placements. In some cases, eight or more.
That's eight homes that they move into and out of.
And just consider ... that means they lose not just adults
and other kids with whom they are establishing a bond, but
friends, schoolmates, pets.
6. The average foster child remains in the system for
almost two years before being reunited with their biological
parents, adopted, aging out, or other outcomes.
8% of them remain in foster care for over five years. Of
the 238,000 foster kids who left the system in 2013, about
half were reunited with parents or primary caregivers, 21%
were adopted, 15% went to live with a relative or other
guardian, and 10% were emancipated (aged out).
7. In 2013, more than 23,000 young people aged out of
foster care with no permanent family to end up with.
And if you add that up, year after year, hundreds of
thousands of foster youth will have aged out of the system.
What does that look like? "You're 18. You've got no place to
live and no family. Good luck buh-bye now!"
One-quarter of former foster kids experience homelessness
within four years of exiting the system.
8. Foster "alumni" (those who have been in foster
homes and either adopted, returned to parents, or aged out)
are likely to suffer serious mental health consequences.
They are four-five times more likely to be hospitalized
for attempting suicide and five-eight times more likely to
be hospitalized for serious psychiatric disorders in their
Based on that set of statistics alone, it's in the
public's interest (ignoring, for a second, the interests of
those kids) to help them through their lot in life and spend
resources making it all work much better for everybody
before it gets to that point. Right?
So there's a lot to be angry about in this whole messed
up situation. But this next thing? My blood boils.
What's one of the biggest risk factors in families whose
children are placed in foster care?
The answer is ...
Together with homelessness and unemployment, it's a main
contributing factor. It happens all the time. The fact that
it's far easier for a parent to be accused and investigated
for neglect or abuse because of simple things like lack of
access to a vehicle, or a working refrigerator, or the
ability to get a kid to a doctor's appointment that
has a lot to do with this. Tie that to the link between drug
abuse and poverty and between poverty and child abuse ...
well, you can see where this is going.
And in a country where one-third of children are living
in poverty (hint: the good ol' U.S. of A.), imagine how that
affects the number of kids being removed and placed into
I'll end this with a bit of hope through my story.
My kids went through something a lot like the kids in the
clip above before they came to live with us. We've been
through the ringer in ways that we're going to have to talk
about one day because it's not just that the kids have been
challenging they have it's that the system
itself has been more challenging.
The entire system from agencies to government
entities to social workers to even the schools seems
like it's designed to fail these kids and the families who
are attempting to help. It's almost designed not to work.
There, I said it.
But that doesn't mean we won't fight to make it better
for everybody. We most definitely will.
As for us, we're just a few weeks away from becoming the
legal parents to these kids, and we're extremely happy to be
right here, making it happen. And they seem quite happy to
be our kids. Along the way, we fell in love with them, and
we can't imagine life without them.
But to be totally honest ... if we'd have known how hard
it was going to be when we started this journey, and if we
could somehow turn back the clock and NOT do it ... well,
would we have actually gone forward with the process?
I take that back. I won't be totally honest here. I will
simply let you decide.
Here are some places to help, if you're so inclined.
- AdoptUsKids.org is a place to start if you're
considering fostering or adopting.
- My Stuff Bags is a really cool and inexpensive way to
help foster kids by gifting them actual luggage, duffel
bags, and more, so that they don't travel from home to
home with garbage bags for their belongings or
nothing at all.
- CASA for Children offers legal help and advocates for
foster kids through a network of volunteers.
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