Foster care is a paradox. Children removed from abusive homes begin the foster care cycle and the procedure is either a group home or foster care, with the latter being the most common. Foster care however is no better than the homes Child Services deem to be unfit for children. Sexual and physical abuse is rampant in foster care. watch 18 and out: foster youth .An abused foster care survivor can attest to the fact that removal from a dysfunctional home for placement into another, is hardly a “respite.” Yet there are few options. A child in need of immediate protection has to be removed from imminent danger, that’s clear. But the alternative often proves to be little better; a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire? read foster care abuse costs 3.5 million in 13 months
Over the years foster children become aware of their instability and lack of permanent family. Hostility and low self-esteem arises from a belief that they are in some way inferior and unwanted. As a result, certain behaviours and/or disorders may develop:
- food maintenance (hoarding) – children who have not been given enough to eat store food in a secret place in case they are forced to go hungry as a punishment. Sometimes food hoarding becomes a lifelong, unhealthy habit.
- eating disorders – hunger, loneliness, rejection impact in a negative manner on the foster child’s self-esteem. Many children express self-hatred through various eating disorders. Sometimes foster children express a need for control through eating disorders: since they cannot control their environment they develop eating disorders in order to establish control over their bodies, offering a false sense of security.
- hoarding – storing old, broken, irrelevant and unhealthy objects becomes habitual. Lack of a stable home causes the foster child to crave stability and collecting and hiding objects offers a false sense of security.
- social isolation – since they are moved from home to home, foster children do not learn social skills and consequently they are unable to make and keep friends.watch children in foster care
- psychological disorders: (1) borderline personality disorder is frequently diagnosed in adults who survive the foster care system (2) attachment avoidance disorder – forming and maintaining adult relationships becomes a significant challenge and frequently AAD’s behave in ways that are meant to sever a relationship, even though they may actually desire social connectedness (3) reactive attachment disorder – appears in early childhood and is extremely difficult to treat. RAD typically involves hostility, anger, and the inability to bond with peers (4) depression (5) anti-social personality disorder – abusive behaviours that usually involve criminal activity with varying degrees of severity (6) narcissism – similar to anti-social personality except the narcissist seeks constant admiration and attention (7) dissociative identity disorder or similar disorders (eg. depersonalization) arise to mentally escape trauma (8) drug and alcohol abuse (9) suicidal ideation and suicide watch parental alienation is real
- mental illness – must involve a genetic link and abnormal brain chemistry, however symptoms can be brought on earlier in life and to a greater degree of severity in foster homes.
Many foster “families” become foster parents for unhealthy reasons:
- sexual access to minors
- ability to physically and emotionally abuse a social isolate
- monies received by state
The foster care system has a lot to answer for. Consider:
- In one case on file, a girl was repeatedly raped by her foster parents’ son for years. Yet, despite two abortions and the birth of a baby by her abuser, the girl was allowed to remain with her foster family. The son subsequently pleaded guilty to criminal sexual abuse and his mother to child endangerment, according to the settled claim.
- A 7-year-old boy who was assaulted by other youths at a foster home.
- A family whose three children were placed in foster care without notifying family members of the allegations against them.
Every adult who wishes to be a foster parent must go through a screening process to give care. This process is a contributing factor in the state determining if a child will be placed in a safe environment. The National Foster Parent Association explains that there are basic requirements for a foster parent to meet. Clearly, these basic requirements are too basic since so many foster homes are no better than a foster house of horrors. watch injured in foster care
Case Study – Jeffrey Baldwin – 2000
6-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin died of septic shock while in the rather questionable care of his grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman. On 28 April 1998, he and his older sister were taken by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society after allegations of abuse were levelled against their parents and sent to live with old Elva and Norm. A worker with the Society noticed a bruise under Jeffrey’s eye, but this was dismissed as an accident (he must have walked into a door, naturally). Jeffrey was kept in a locked room with furnace vents shut, and was forced to eat with his hands from a mat on the floor. watch lawsuit says foster care boy was starved to death
On the evening of 30 November 2002, emergency workers were called to the house after Jeffrey stopped breathing and noticed that Jeffrey’s body was “covered in sores, bruises and abrasions“. His weight at death was slightly less than his weight at his first birthday, almost five years earlier. To make matters worse, the Children’s Aid had sent out at least 2 social workers while Jeffrey was fostered by his grandparents yet in spite of his physical appearance and his appalling living conditions, neither suspected Jeffrey was in serious danger. Tax dollars in social worker training put to good use, I must say. watch death of a foster child part 1
Let’s suppose little Jeffrey had lived to be approximately 11 or 12 years old, an age when he might have run away from “home.” Consider that more than one-third of homeless youth in Canada have been in foster care the year before they took to the streets. More than one out of five youths who arrive at a shelter come directly from a foster or group home. watch young and homeless. Jeffrey would have been mixing with children as damaged, or even more so, than himself. Perhaps he would have been arrested and returned to his grandparents, or he might have been brought him to a new foster home. The stats say that our little Jeffrey would run away again for a plethora of reasons:
- same old where abuse is concerned
- inability to bond with foster family
- restricted by unreasonable and/or unfamiliar household rules
Jeffrey is now 14 or 15 years old and a veteran to the streets. He has been in a dozen or more foster homes as he keeps getting arrested and brought back to Children’s Aid (and very helpful they are indeed). By this time, Jeffrey is a drug user and possibly an addict. He might be prostituting himself to buy illicit drugs. He may have one of a few sexual diseases including the HIV virus. His diet is incredibly inept, he has been beaten and raped on numerous occasions and he would be unrecognizable to his parents should they ever encounter him again, which is unlikely. watch the foster care system exposed
The rest of the story isn’t any better. Jeffrey’s crimes become worse as his drug habit/s intensify and he becomes not merely a ward of the state, but now a juvenile delinquent and he spends considerable time in juvenile hall. Eventually his crimes become more violent and he is admitted into juvenile prison, a nastier environment where daily beatings by inmates are common. Jeffrey is both a victim and a bully. watch inside juvenile prison. By the time he turns 18, Jeffrey is transferred into adult prison, maximum security, to serve out the remainder of his sentence for whichever crimes he has committed before being admitted to juvenile prison. watch boys appear in adult court for first time
At first Jeffrey is a model prisoner. He desperately wants out of this hell hole; he is frightened all the time and a constant target for rapists and gangs. Finally he cannot bear anymore abuse and he does 1 of 2 things: (1) snitches to a guard and spends the rest of his jail sentence locked in solitary confinement – 23 hours a day- with 1 hour outside for exercise alone on the yard, until he loses his mind; (2) he fights back with deadly force, killing another inmate and receiving a life sentence, ensuring he will never get parole and never be released. watch young kids, hard time
This is the fairy-tale existence for many children born into inadequate households, placed in the equally dysfunctional foster care system, then running to the streets for refuge. Through no fault of their own today’s foster children become tomorrow’s criminals and there doesn’t seem to be a feasible alternative.