Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advanced SystemSuckOlogy: The Focus

I have recently been commenting on a particular foster parent blog. Out of respect to this blogger who has had some serious problems based on her fame and fortune from a different blog, which I'm not going to get into, I will not provide a link. I will say that this particular blogger is one of the most brutally honest foster parent/adoptive parent bloggers I have ever come across.  And although I don't always agree with her, she has earned my respect.  And I will treat her with such.

A few days ago, she did a post about fixing the child welfare system. It basically, in my opinion comes down to doing the right thing. Taking kids who need to be protected and leaving families who can be helped in tact. Providing the necessary supports to help the family successfully care for their children. In some cases this is done. In some cases this is not done. Of course that is way too simple of an answer as there are many parts to a mess this big. How do we go about fixing the mess? That is a new problem entirely. However, her response to my comment was rather enlightening. Not because I thought she was right, but because I suddenly saw where she was wrong.  And it all comes back to pre-conceived notions which is based on the presentation of the issue.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to offer a solution to a part of the problem, right here and now on Legally Kidnapped. This is a part of the problem that I have the authority state based on the work I have done with Legally Kidnapped. And I'm not claiming originality in the concept, but I will claim originality in the presentation.

Here is the problem. The focus.
Here is the solution. Change the focus.

Let me explain.

One of the things I've noticed, in regards to a trend or a pattern is that there is a lot of focus directed towards one side of the issue. The word issue will be defined in this case as a whole where we lump it all into one category. Child Abuse, the Child Welfare Industry, Foster Care, adoption, reunification, services, whatever. (I'm doing this for a purpose so bare with me.) When you consider the kinds of news articles that are printed, you see the issue from a particular perspective. That perspective is skewed towards one side of the issue in it's presentation.  This is a part of the problem known as a Media Distortion.

Okay, what the hell am I talking about? Let me give you a couple of examples.

I read a lot of foster parent blogs. In these, there is a common myth that they all seem to subscribe to. That myth is that parents involved with the child welfare system can not be helped. These are the parents they blog about. As an example of this I will direct you to Mothering4Money's very inspiring post, As The World Turns

The news media attacks the issue from a particular perspective as well. Overall, the presentation by the media has created the universal, or rather most common understanding of the issue throughout society. This poses a problem in that most people who are subjected to a one sided presentation also refuse to research the issue further to hear what the others are saying. So their understanding is off the mark, so to speak.

For example, there are a lot of articles about horrific cases of child abuse. There are a lot of articles about wonderful foster parents. There is a myth that all of these kids have dreams of forever homes, and that all they want is to be adopted so that they can have a family of their own. There is a lot of talk of systematic failures, foster children aging out, bla bla bla.

What there is not, is this. You hardly ever see articles where a parent successfully went through any programs, solved the problems and got their kids back. You see a lot of so called success stories that end in adoption, but you never see any that end in reunification. I take that back. Here's one...

Jacksonville Couple Wonders if Foster Care System is Broken

In this case, the parents get the kids back, and the foster parents accuse the workers of failing the children.  The parents get the kid back, and "Oh my God the INJUSTICE!!!"

Here's another...

Investigators: All ties cut with Poca

"Oh those poor, poor foster parents." How can they take this child away from them?  They love her!  They raised her!  This is the only family she has ever known.

See what I mean?

You rarely see a reunification portrayed in a positive light in the news. Oh, there were a couple back around national reunification day, but even those portrayed the system in a positive light as well. "These wonderful workers helped this poor family get back on their feet, and they were able to overcome all of their problems with the help of all of the wonderful people who work for the system, were able to provide a safe and stable environment for their kids."

So here's what needs to be done. We need more success stories, where the parents overcame the odds, got their kids back, etc. This happens, but we never see it. So people are more apt to think that once the label child abuse or neglect is applied, all is lost.  So what if a parent cleans themselves up from a drug addiction?  Do they not deserve the recognition?  Is that not difficult to do?  Is that not a major accomplishment? 

Then why do we never see it?

Perhaps it's time that we do. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:34 PM

    I think the NCCPR has a better idea eliminate neglect as a reason to remove and raise the evidential standard particularly in cases where the parents can't explain an injury to the agency proving the parent did it: the same standard the agencies use on their own people.


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