Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Your Child and the Foster Care System

Imagine being a small child, lying in your bed and suddenly strangers come and take you out of a sound sleep. The last thing you see as you exit the house is your hysterical mother who is being held back by the police, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Please don’t take my baby away!” You are then put into the back of a car while kicking and screaming for your mother and taken to live with people who you have never met before.

Not all child removals initiated by Child Protective Services are that dramatic, especially if the child is taken from their school or daycare. But when a small child is removed from the home, often times it’s done in the middle of the night. A social worker comes knocking on the door accompanied by the police. The parents are in a state of confusion and hysterics and the child is taken away and placed in the foster care system.

The process of being removed from the home by Child Protective Services can be a traumatic experience for any child. It can have a lasting effect resulting in various psychological disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and severe Depression, although that part of it is usually swept under the rug or blamed on the parents.

So, what could be worse then that? How about being caught up in the foster care system? Usually the child will be placed in a temporary foster home and then bounced from home to home every few months until they exit the foster care system. A high percentage of foster children are diagnosed with various mental disorders, most commonly ADHD and Depression. If the child is diagnosed with any of these they are sure to be medicated for it, often quite heavily.

Exiting the foster care system happens in various ways. A child can be reunited with their parents for example, or they can be adopted out. Some children are placed with other relatives, although this is too rare of an occurrence. Many exit the foster care system by turning 18, a process known as “aging out.” When a child ages out of the system, it is typically with no emotional or financial support. They’re suddenly on their own without the ability to take care of themselves. Many who age out of the system end up homeless or in jail within the first year of being emancipated.

Most children who age out of the system do so because they are not adoptable. This is often due to the child’s age or special needs. Very few perspective parents want to adopt a child with special needs, and most don’t want to adopt older children who come with the heavy emotional baggage that life in the foster care system places on children. So a family becomes an unrealistic dream for many children caught up in the system.

If a child’s special needs are too severe, they may not even be able to live in a foster home. These children will instead be placed in group homes staffed by trained workers and simply medicated and controlled until they turn 18.

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