They Deserve Better
July 8, 2015 7:07 PM   Subscribe

I was hoping to work in something on the city's cancellation of the contracts with the COAC and You Gotta Believe earlier this year, but had a hard time finding a succinct summary. The petition probably comes closest.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:12 PM on July 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's been really amusing seeing Rebecca from Fosterhood reading through the lawsuit - so much fist pumping and yes yes posts.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

We finalized an adoption in California just this last week that took us 5.5 years and the foster process undoubtedly created irreparable harm to our daughter, or at least trauma that will take us a good long while to work out. We took her in when she was two months old, the court sent her back to a highly dysfunctional family when she was almost two when we were the only family she new (and even though the birth mother did not comply with the court expectations for drug recovery), because the court maxed out the time that our daughter was supposed to be in the system. Those time-limit laws are supposed to protect children from being displaced for too long, at which time they should terminate parental rights if parents haven't taken full advantage of court services (her birth mother had a history of severe violence and heroin addiction, and she wasn't complying). Instead, the judge sent her back to her mother again. A year and a half later, after not hearing at all how she was doing, they found her in a drug house where her mother had left her for days unattended. So she came back to our home when she was a little over three, frightened and dirty, and we fought tooth-and-nail to keep her from going back to a family that was rampant with abuse. The court did it right the second time, but social services fought us in ways that boggled our mind. At that point, we were so pissed that we hired lawyers and did our homework (my wife is a trained MSW, so that saved our lives more than a couple of times) such that no shenanigans were even possible. We are currently involved in one lawsuit that will hopefully hold social services responsible for actually breaking the law in multiple ways (they are too overwhelmed to do it right, blah blah) and requiring us to continually hold their feet to the fire to follow certain guidelines that wouldn't harm the children in our care. We have in mind to participate in one more, as there has been some success in LA county for pressing these things against the court system that often does not comply with the law, either.

Part of me says screw it though, I'm just happy to be done. We've adopted two girls this last year now from foster care, and we feel as if we waded into a sesspool to rescue a couple of people and got ourselves out. It's a shame, because the need is so high. I used to think of foster care as a pretty high calling, and in many ways it certainly is, when done with the right motives. When people ask me now though, I'm pretty direct about the costs involved personally and emotionally (oh, the counseling we've been through as a family). My only real virtue is that I was totally ignorant of what it would require of us when we got started. I'm very glad we did it, but the system is messed up and leans on unethical practices more often than not (in part, I'm sure, due to limited resources) with impersonal political negotiations woven into everything to the point that I'm so tired I couldn't possibly think of doing this again. But I love my girls, it was totally worth, and it was the best this week when our daughter said, "Thanks mom and dad for the best adoption day ever." Yep, totally worth it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:40 PM on July 8, 2015 [69 favorites]

Flagged as goddamn fantastic, SpacemanStix. You're on the side of the angels here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:48 PM on July 8, 2015

they are too overwhelmed to do it right, blah blah

I'm so glad you are now officially recognized legally as the family you clearly are, SpacemanStix! I also think (and I believe this sort of supports your point, possibly, and I hope it doesn't come off as standoffish or argumentative) that it's very possible that they ARE too overwhelmed to do it right, but that doesn't make it okay! This is one of those situations where a very, VERY important area -- taking care of children! SO IMPORTANT! -- is underfunded to the point where they can't do a good job and then politicians point to them and say "See! Government isn't good for anything! They can't even do this right!" because people, sometimes people who start really trying hard and caring, are put in impossible situations.

Being too overwhelmed to do it right is profoundly, profoundly not an excuse and doesn't make it okay, but I think it's also TRUE and the solution to this is to make sure that important departments like children's services are funded and run properly instead of throwing up our hands and saying "it's all so overwhelming! What can we do?" What we can do is pay our goddamn taxes to support vulnerable children which turns out to be a good thing for all of us.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:13 AM on July 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Flagged as goddamn fantastic, SpacemanStix. You're on the side of the angels here.


The failure of our society to to protect these vulnerable children -- both by taking them away from caring foster parents and returning them to abusive homes, and on flip side by allowing so-called re-homing and by shuffling them to under-scrutinized and under-scrupulous profiteers (I think there was a recent post here on the Blue about a tragic situation in, I believe, Texas or Louisiana, but I can't seem to find it) is simply shameful.

Yes, these kids do deserve better, and I for one am willing to pay higher taxes -- or better still, not buy one useless F-35 -- to pay for it.
posted by Gelatin at 6:25 AM on July 9, 2015

SpacemanStix, that's truly a story for the ages. Thanks for writing it.
posted by math at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2015

Gelatin, that would be Arkansas representative Justin Harris
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:44 AM on July 9, 2015

We finalized my daughter's adoption from foster care in New York State in April, after 1,187 days in our care (that's three years and three months). She was placed with us at four weeks old. We were uncertain until September as to whether she'd be leaving us to go live with a parent who had not even completed the bare minimum of what CPS had requested. The parent chose to surrender his rights rather than go to trial, but the trial would have added at least a few more months, with a several-months-long appeal period, to the ordeal. At least our daughter, unlike SpacemanStix's, didn't leave and come back. My daughter's bio-mother has a new baby, which is the reason we're staying certified indefinitely.

This lawsuit is really, really important.
posted by SeedStitch at 6:53 AM on July 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

My husband and I stopped fostering because I felt the the system here in Texas was working (inadvertently or not) to remove everything from our lives (leisure time, a strong support system, the ability to make choices, the right to advocate for our children) that was allowing us to do the super hard work of fostering children.

At one point I told our appointed therapist that I was really worried about the toll it was taking on our marriage, having two suicidal, self harming, epic tantrum throwing grade schoolers living in our house. She literally said, "Well, you just have to get through a year and just trust that your marriage is strong enough to be there when you have time for it again." Like, lady I know you know that's not how relationships work. By destabilizing my primary relationship I felt like I had lost the ability to effectively parent traumatized children.

We got our last child out of the system and once her adoption by a family member was finalized we closed our home and haven't reopened it. We talk about going back but the wading into a cesspool metaphor is apt.
posted by Saminal at 10:58 AM on July 9, 2015 [9 favorites]

I've read Fosterhood for years as well as the now defunct Fosterwee (thanks, GOMI assholes who gossiped about and harassed really good people), and I have two friends who are fostermoms right now, and I was still shocked by some of the details in the lawsuit. It's amazing how swiftly we can send people to prison or foreclose on their homes, but how slowly the system to protect our most vulnerable moves.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:59 AM on July 10, 2015

GOMI isn't to blame for the Fosterwee shutdown. Fosterwee decided to shut down their blog after realizing they were sharing too much private stuff about a child old enough to have an opinion on the subject. I do miss hearing about their situation, but it's not theirs to talk about. It's their child's life, and she deserves privacy. They made the right decision.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:59 AM on July 10, 2015

That is a good reason for them to stop blogging about their daughter, I agree. However, the mountain of vitriol being heaped upon them in the comments on their own blog likely contributed to them not feeling comfortable even leaving up selected archives or blogging about anything else either. And that's really too bad because they are lovely people and deserved none of what people were saying about them for daring to exist on the internet.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:04 PM on July 10, 2015

I don't recall seeing mountains of comment vitriol at any point in the blog's history (I don't consider criticism vitriol, though, and I know a lot of bloggers feel otherwise). The blog is offline now, so there's no way to go back and check.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:06 PM on July 10, 2015

I spent 7 months in "temporary" detention, missing sun, at age 13. Then returned to my own abusive home. Oops. Loads of fun. The system's greatest talent is justifying its own actions.
posted by Goofyy at 11:08 AM on July 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

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