In the US alone, 400,000 children are waiting for foster homes, forever homes, or they currently reside in a group home. Foster care comes with its own hurdles for both the family and the children involved. Stigma does exist, thanks to the small percentage of families who fall through the cracks and the media houses who blast their stories.
You have likely heard of month’s long backlogs, overcrowding, and the violence. Perhaps you see the neglectful foster families and jump to your own conclusions. Social services will place kids anywhere and with anyone who raises their hand. The myths and stretched truths begin and unfold into stereotypes.
Foster Parents Only Want a Paycheck
It is true that a foster family receives money to care for each child they give a home. They must feed, clothe, educated, and provide for their foster child on a small stipend that varies from state to state and wait for reimbursement for anything more they spend out of pocket.
Some foster parents still pay out of their pockets and never see a dime back. Why would they do that? Because it is not about the money. Foster parents have an empty home and large hearts. All they want is to give back and help a child or children through a difficult time. In many cases, foster parents give their foster children a forever home, and when the adoption process ends, so does the money.
Foster Parents Aren’t Vetted
No amount of vetting is foolproof, and yes, some families or individuals fall through the cracks. However, prospective foster parents must meet certain criteria before home placement occurs. This includes being financially stable to support themselves, having the required space, and the absence of a criminal record.
The above is just the start of the process. After they deem a foster parent financially stable, with a clean record, and that they have the correct space, children and family services move them to the next step of a process that does not end when they place a child in their home. Additionally, families must pass home visits, another background check, and attend orientations and educational classes.
All Birth Parents are Junkies and Criminals
Children who end up in foster care come from multiple situations and backgrounds. While a great deal of birth parents might be junkies or criminals, their actions have little to do with what their children deserve. Yes, some infants are born with drug addictions, birth defects or delays, and so forth. Children coming from these homes have been neglected, abused, and might have PTSD or other problems. Please remember the children did not ask for their situation, and if anything, these children need love, stability, and support.
Foster Children are Out of Control
While there are kids in the system with undiagnosed or undertreated behavior issues, to say they are all out of control is incorrect. You must understand that these children often feel unwanted, unloved, and invisible. Many have never felt real love. They have no idea what stability is or looks like. Some children will react wrongly to positive situations because they never built proper social skills in early childhood.
Children can also have medical conditions that have been undertreated, misdiagnosed, or overlooked. Many of these conditions are a direct result of the abuse and neglect they have faced. With proper care, these children thrive in their foster homes and go on to lead full lives with the proper skills to tackle any situation.
No system is without flaws. Few myths are total fabrications, but you should not mistake them for what is normal. For every worst-case scenario you have heard, you will find thousands of successful stories about the foster care system and the gracious families that make it possible for children to be loved, cared for, and safe.