Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Myth 2: Foster Kids Are Better Off Being Adopted

Mythbuster Series - Birth Parents:  Guest Post 2
Tammy is a single lady with an obnoxious cat, daughter, sister, friend, cool Aunt Tammy, honorary "mom," honorary "grandma."  Bio mom to none, but full-time working foster mom (aka. "Mimi") to six kiddos and counting over the past 3 1/2 years.  Tammy blogs about her Foster/Adopt journey at "I Must Be Trippin'".  This is Tammy's second guest post at Attempting Agape.  View her post in the Mother's Day Series here.

Last night, I opened my front door to see two smiling faces.  The same two smiling faces that I've seen four nights a week for the past three months ever since my latest foster son (Monkey) returned home to his biological father and I became his full-time caregiver while his father is at work...
So many times, we hear the horror stories of how children end up in foster care.  Horrific abuse cases are all over the news, and the general consensus among the public seems to be that children who end up in foster care are "better off" being adopted than returning home to their birth parents.  While that may be true in those drastic cases, what many people don't realize is that roughly 80% of all children in foster care are there due to neglect.  Neglect due to babies being born to teenaged parents who don't know how to properly care for them...  Neglect due to parents with drug or alcohol addictions...  Neglect due to parents with untreated mental illnesses...  Neglect due to financial hardships beyond their parents' immediate control...  Since I began fostering, all of my children have come from one or more of these situations.  Five of my six were also returned into their birthparent(s)' care (four to their birth fathers) after they successfully completed their service plans.

I will be the first to admit that these reunions are not always successful.  I recently learned that one of my sibling groups of two were returning to care after a year and a half at home.  Would the girls have been "better off" being adopted?  Not necessarily.  I think the girls deserve to be loved.  Knowing what I do about their birthfather, I know he tried and I'm sure he is trying again.  I know he loves his girls.  I also know he had a difficult, co-dependent relationship with the girls' birthmother and would resort to petty theft in order to support her drug dependency which ended up costing him the removal of his children more than once when he was unable to break completely free of their mother.  Does that mean he won't be able to get it together and be the kind of father his children deserve now?  Not at all! 

When I see Monkey with his father, I am reminded every day that foster care can work.  Every Sunday, when I unpack Monkey's bag to discover his "special" blanket and favorite bedtime stuffed animal have been freshly laundered, I smile.  Only a father who truly knows and loves his child would go out of his way to make sure his favorite things are well taken care of and always present when he needs them.  Every night, when Monkey snuggles up to me for bedtime, he smells of baby lotion and shampoo.  He knows when it's getting close to the time when his daddy comes to pick him up, and he starts talking about his "Daaah-deeee" incessantly.  Monkey and his dad both positively beam when they see each other.  His father is a good man, a good father, and Monkey is his whole world. 

"Why did Monkey need to be in foster care for the first year of his life if his dad is so great," some people might ask.  The answer is that sometimes parents need help.  Sometimes they simply need a little time to learn how to parent.  Sometimes they need a little time to learn how to let go of the negative things in their lives that are interfering with their ability to be the kind of parents their children deserve.  The foster care system is painfully flawed, but if everyone works together, it does work.  Families can have successful reunifications and go on to live happy lives filled with love.  I've seen it with my own eyes.

"All children in foster care are 'better off' being adopted," some might say...  But every time I open my front door and see Monkey and his daddy grinning from ear to ear, I know that's not always the case.  Monkey is cherished, spoiled rotten, and loved beyond measure.  Monkey is exactly where he was meant to be.


  1. Well said. Hard to understand unless you have seen both sides.

  2. Our mission is to brighten the lives of Foster Children all over the state of New Jersey.
    We do this in a lot of ways! For example…
    Right now we’re hosting a toy drive so foster children all over New Jersey will have plenty of presents under their tree.


It'll be a pleasure hearing your thoughts. Alisa