Friday, March 18, 2011

Perspective From a Foster Child

I want to provide a perspective on foster care that many readers aren't aware of. That of a foster child.

So many people claim to speak for these children, and to act in the best interests of these children, but they don't have a clue what the child would say, or what would be best for that individual child.

Most of the child welfare professionals don't make their recommendations or take their actions based on what is best for each individual child. They are acting based on what is generically best for children. I know this because I ask every single one I encounter, "Do you make your recommendations and conduct your practice based on  each individual child's needs or based on what's best for children in general?" They respond, "It is too complicated to know what each child needs, I base my recommendations and practice on what's best for children in general." Reading their reports and recommendations, that was obvious to me, but I wanted them to admit it. And they do, unaware of the indictment that this admission implies.

This is significant because children are not automatons, or cut from the same cloth. They are individuals, each with their own needs and dreams and desires. To treat them with a cookie cutter approach does violence to the child, the rights of the child and the family, and destroys the statutory mandates governing child welfare.

I was a foster child. Based on my experience, and my discussions with other foster children, I have concluded that the child in foster care is not the real child. All anyone sees is a role the child is playing. It is too dangerous for a foster child to be himself in a stranger's home. A foster child must adapt to the stranger's home, and suppress important parts of himself in order to protect himself. He will say and do whatever pleases the authority figures who have control over his life to stay safe. He'll even deny abuse in the foster home if he thinks disclosing it is too dangerous. Interestingly, he will tell his parents during visits, expecting them to protect him. Instead, the visits will be cut off, because the caseworker will claim the parents are discussing in appropriate topics with the child.

Child welfare professionals are in denial about this chameleon foster child. They take the chameleon as the real child, which results in disaster for the child.

He cannot discern when they are lying to him, he just wants to make them happy so he can go home. That's what they promised him. He doesn't realize saying and doing what they want is most likely to prevent his reunification. Even if he acts out, he will acquiesce to the reasons his court-appointed therapist or caseworker suggests, grasping at any straw to win his way home.

But a child cannot maintain this masquerade forever. Once in a forever home, his misery at losing his parents must emerge. He feels abandoned by his parents, yet he still needs them and wants them. His new forever parents contribute to his agony, by badmouthing his parents and punishing him for loving them, needing them, wanting them. They try to control his feelings and this thoughts, based on the delusion that this is supposed to be a fairy tale. This child should be grateful to them for rescuing him and making him part of their family. But he's not, and that is intolerable. He gets hateful, and they don't know why. I know why.

I hated every attempt by my foster care givers to make me be someone I wasn't. I hated their constant badmouthing my father, and making me feel inferior because I continued to love him and need him. I hated their demands that were strange and uncomfortable. I hated the complete, forced isolation from my family. I had to endure their attempts to control me in silence. It's no wonder some children respond with passive aggressive tendencies and refusals to bond. Who wants to be forced to bond with someone who doesn't even understand your needs and cares more about their hurt adult feelings than your broken child's heart?

The experts' professional belief that you can control anyone's emotions and feelings, or use force to change some else's emotions and feelings, especially a child's, is insane. Yet, the entire child welfare industry is based on this premise, and applies it punitively to anyone who resists being controlled in this manner or forced to feel what the experts think is best. This practice results in an insulting and degrading violation of personal boundaries, involving coercion, emotional manipulation, denial of individuality and self-determination, and the wholesale use of controlling techniques far more abusive than most parents are alleged to have perpetrated upon their children which the state cited as warranting their removal from the family home. It is a graphic illustration as to how pervasively erroneous the practices perpetrated by experts in the name of protecting children really are.

Termination of parental rights (TPR) is not proving to be compassionate nor a worthy solution for the best interests of children, neither is expedited permanency. Since children's attachment are demonstrably not as malleable as the experts want us to believe, TPR should be reserved for the most egregious cases of abuse, never for neglect. When TPR and adoption must be employed, there should still be a mechanism for the child to validly own his feelings and needs for his real parents, and see them under safe conditions throughout his life. This is the only way to protect the child's emotional health into adulthood. That would be in the best interests of children in general, and individual children.

1 comment:

  1. Perspective From a Foster Child, I listened to you very well written. It seems that the system is pretty poor from what you are saying here. It sound that maybe they mite have a stereotype of what is normal from there education and their bosses. All of these people get payed well for thinking the way they are told. Maybe they will lose jobs by listening to some more foster children views.


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