From garbage bag to garbage bag ...
July 18, 2003 7:21 PM   Subscribe

From the NYT (reg req.'d) This is the saddest story I can imagine. "It was only a week ago that the tiny body of Stephanie Ramos was found in a plastic bag in a garbage truck in the Bronx, discarded by a foster mother who told the police that she panicked when the severely disabled girl died. It was an ugly ending by any measure, but particularly cruel in this case because the little girl's life began the same way: wrapped in a plastic bag and discarded on a New York City byway." Has anyone ever been a foster parent? A foster child? Are things often this bad - and this good? (That'll make sense when you read the story.)
posted by Jos Bleau (9 comments total)
"But Stephanie's doctors have told law enforcement officials that the child, who was blind and suffered from cerebral palsy as well as diabetes, could have died from complications at any moment."

And the awareness of a child younger than one. What a sad existence.
posted by agregoli at 8:07 PM on July 18, 2003

Oh, my god, that's terrible. I'd love to get my hands on that inhuman monster of a woman. I can't imagine anyone even thinking about doing something like that to...

Oh, a baby. Phew, for a minute there, I thought that someone had killed a puppy.
posted by majcher at 8:07 PM on July 18, 2003

I read that story this morning and it broke my heart. I work with sick kids and have met a few "medical" foster parents. They are, for the most part, exceptional people. I know a couple who have fostered two kids with cystic fibrosis, without this couple these two siblings wouldn't have a very bright future.

When foster care for kids with special needs goes horribly wrong people wail about the broken system (as well they should) but the day to day heroes should be applauded with the same passion. Caring for physically healthy kids in the foster care system is a challenge. Add chronic or debilitating physical problems to it and it is truly daunting.
posted by whatever at 8:23 PM on July 18, 2003

What the F is going on here?

If you try to adopt an 8 year old 28 pound dog from the average humane society you face a tougher background check than the foster parents did in this case!

Stepahnie's home ws described as "filthy and unsanitary" and her feeding tube as " caked with grime and weeks-old formula." Yet apparently nothing was done.

How can this be?
posted by Jos Bleau at 9:02 PM on July 18, 2003

It's too expensive to keep these kids in hospitals or long term facilities so the system goes with what's available. Not everyone is equipped to handle the care of a neurologically devastated child so child services will take the willing over the capable when all they have are the willing. Ms Johnson was a 50 year old retired nurse so I'm sure she appeard capable. I've seen more situations than I care to recall here of kids sent to less than ideal places because it's the only place available.

The only reason this story is even being talked about is because of the disposal of the body. A child with Stephanie's medical needs (blind, cerebal palsy and diabetes) was not looking forward to a long life even with love and the best of care. Let's talk about her birth parents who placed their newborn daughter into a plastic garbage bag (that probably contributed to her neurological damage) and placed her on the side of the road. The article says they lost their right to care for her (care!?) but doesn't mention if they were punished for their heartless act.

The fact that Stephanie was treated like so much garbage after she died is adding insult to injury. The people who contributed to the hell that was her 8 years on earth have sown some serious karma. I wouldn't want to be them.
posted by whatever at 10:30 PM on July 18, 2003 [1 favorite]

Does anyone else here find that this article is lacking in direction? It doesn't provide enough information about the circumstances in how the Stephanie was first found or substantial background information about her last foster mother. Also, the majority of the information from this article seems to have been from people "who have seen" Stephanie's record or from the agency who placed her in these homes. I can't put my finger on it, but it seems to me, this article used the tragedies surrounding her birth and death, and tried, poorly, to construct a story that played more on emotions than anything else.

Of course I could be completely wrong. Either way, I hoped Stephanie died in peace and suffered little in that woman's care.
posted by phyrewerx at 10:44 PM on July 18, 2003

I hear stories like this every day. Every time I hear one, I ask myself, "Am I doing everything within my power to help the children in my care? Is there something more my agency can be doing for me?" I am a foster parent for physically healthy children, and several members of my family are foster parents as well, some to developmentally disabled children. Nothing like this has ever happened in our homes. But if I ever found myself unable or too burned out to care for a child properly, and my agency stopped putting forth an effort to help (which is what seems to have happened to Ms Johnson), I would rather quit than hurt a child.
posted by littlegirlblue at 8:55 AM on July 19, 2003

Littlegirlblue, good for you. Many people (including myself) complain about the system while you and your family are doing something about it.

The part that always confuses me is the attitude towards adoption. The first foster family was taking good care of Stephanie but weren't looking to adopt her. Why take her away? Do you have any insight into this littlegirlblue?
posted by whatever at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2003

Foster care & adoption are very different things. I get asked to adopt children who can't be permanently placed quite often. I made a decision before I started foster care not to adopt anyone, despite how much I may love them. I just am not interested in adding to my permanent family.

The article mentioned how dedicated her first home was, but that the woman was frequently "overwhelmed". The article also mentioned the provider was paying for several services out of pocket. As shitty as this may sound, perhaps the provider gave the agency an ultimatum : help me pay for these services necessary for this girl, or I will no longer be willing to care for her. And the agency chose the option less beneficial to Stephanie : placement in a home that wouldn't ask for "extras".
posted by littlegirlblue at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2003

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