I almost threw a rock at my television the other day. A television actress was bragging to Ellen or someone about a group home she started in her home town in Mississippi. She said she started the home to “fix the broken foster care system.” Seriously???
There is so much that people do not understand about Foster Care. They have the impression that (a) siblings are always separated, (b) that kids go to foster care and never get out, and (c) that all foster homes are negligent, dirty and uncaring. By the way, this is the point of view that the actress was putting forth.
By contrast, my experience with foster parents is completely the opposite. Maybe things are different elsewhere, but here in Texas, the state makes every effort to place siblings together. Permenancy plans (the plan to get the child out of foster care and either back to their parents or into adoption) starts as soon as the first hearings are over and continues until that child is in a permanent home. The foster parents I have met love the kids as if they are their own children; they do their best to ensure the child has a place in the home and the family.
I cannot imagine how warehousing kids in a group home benefits them. What if, as a public figure, this actress used her considerable media leverage to ask people to open their hearts and homes to foster kids, especially to sibling groups. What if kids got into foster homes with their siblings and — perhaps for the first time in their lives — they had a chance to experience being part of a safe, loving family? What if, because they’d had this great experience of learning what it is like to have parents who are emotionally equipped to truly care for them, they were then more able to adjust to their future adoptive home and so had a chance at a truly amazing future? What if more people could let go of their pre-conceived notions of what a “family” is and they were able to take a chance on an older child, a sibling group, or a child with special needs?
Is the foster care system perfect? By no means. Yet can it be improved simply by awareness; we can not only change the life of a child but also the future of our society by getting the word out about what is needed. It all begins with you and me.