Twelve Ways to do Child Welfare Right

Successful Alternatives to Taking Children from their Parents

August 10, 2008, National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

At the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, we often are asked what can be done to prevent the trauma of foster care by safely keeping children with their own families.  There are many options, and we’ve listed some below.  None of the alternatives described below will work in every case or should be tried in every case.  Contrary to the way advocates of placement prevention often are stereotyped, we do not believe in “family preservation at all costs” or that “every family can be saved.”  But these alternatives can keep many children now needlessly taken from their parents safely in their own homes.  Similarly, even communities that have turned their child welfare systems into national models still have serious problems, and often much progress still needs to be made.  All of the things that go wrong in the worst child welfare systems also go wrong in the best – but they go wrong less often.  These recommendations deal primarily with curbing wrongful removal by improving services.  But at least as important is bolstering due process for families.  For those recommendations, see NCCPR’s Due Process Agenda.

  1. Doing nothing.  There are, in fact, cases in which the investigated family is entirely innocent and perfectly capable of taking good care of their children without any “help” from a child welfare agency.  In such cases, the best thing the child protective services worker can do is apologize, shut the door, and go away. 

  2. Basic, concrete help.  Sometimes it may take something as simple as emergency cash for a security deposit, a rent subsidy, or a place in a day care center (to avoid a “lack of supervision” charge) to keep a family together.

  3. Intensive Family Preservation Services programs. The first such program, Homebuilders, in Washington State, was established in the mid-1970s.  The largest replication is in Michigan, where the program is called Families First. The very term “family preservation” was invented specifically to apply to this type of program, which has a better track record for safety than foster care.  The basics concerning how these programs work – and what must be included for a program to be a real “family preservation” program -- are in NCCPR Issue Papers 10 and 11.  Issue Paper 11 lists studies proving the programs’ effectiveness.  CONTACTS: Charlotte Booth, executive director, Homebuilders (253) 874-3630, cbooth@bsihomebuilders.org, Susan Kelly, former director, Families First (734) 547-9164, susan.kelly @cssp.org

  4. The Alabama “System of Care.”  This is one of the most successful child welfare reforms in the country. The reforms are the result of a consent decree growing out of a lawsuit brought by the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. The consent decree requires the state to rebuild its entire system from the bottom up, with an emphasis on keeping families together. The rate at which children are taken from their homes is among the lowest in the country, and re-abuse of children left in their own homes has been cut sharply.  An independent monitor appointed by the court has found that children are safer now than before the changes. CONTACTS: Ira Burnim, Legal Director, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (202) 467-5730, ext. 129. Mr. Burnim also is a member of the NCCPR Board of Directors.  The Bazelon Center also has published a book about the Alabama reforms.  Paul Vincent, Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, Montgomery, Ala. (334) 264-8300.  Mr. Vincent ran the child protection system in Alabama when the lawsuit was filed.  He worked closely with the plaintiffs to develop and implement the reform plan.  Ivor Groves, independent, court-appointed monitor, (850) 422-8900.

  5. Family to Family.  This is a multi-faceted program developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (which also helps to fund NCCPR).  One element of the program, Team Decisionmaking often is confused with the entire program, which has many more elements.  The program is described at the Casey website http://www.aecf.org/Home/MajorInitiatives/Family%20to%20Family.aspx  A comprehensive outside evaluation of the program, found that it led to fewer placements, shorter placements, and less bouncing of children from foster home to foster home – with no compromise of safety. CONTACT: Gretchen Test, Annie E. Casey Foundation (410) 547-6600.

  6. Community/Neighborhood Partnerships for Child Protection.  These partnerships, overseen by the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, are similar to the Family to Family projects. They mobilize formal and informal networks of helpers to prevent maltreatment and avoid needless foster care placement.  Partnerships in Florida’s Duval County, St. Louis, Mo. and Georgia  have reduced placements and improved safety.  CONTACT: Marno Batterson, Center for the Study of Social Policy, (641) 792-5918, marno.batterson@cssp.org.

  7. The turnaround in Pittsburgh.  In the mid-1990s, the child welfare system in Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County, Pa. was typically mediocre, or worse.  Foster care placements were soaring and those in charge insisted every one of those placements was necessary.  New leadership changed all that.  Since 1997, the foster care population has been cut dramatically.  When children must be placed, nearly half of all placements are with relatives and siblings are kept together 82 percent of the time. 

    They’ve done it by tripling the budget for primary prevention, more than doubling the budget for family preservation, embracing innovations like Family to Family and adding elements of their own, such as housing counselors in every child welfare office so families aren’t destroyed because of housing problems.  And children are safer.  Reabuse of children left in their own homes has declined and there has been a significant and sustained decline in child abuse fatalities.  CONTACT: Karen Blumen, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Community Relations (412) 350-5707.

  8. Reform in El Paso County, Colorado. By recognizing the crucial role of poverty in child maltreatment, El Paso County reversed steady increases in its foster care population.  The number of children in foster care declined significantly – and the rate of reabuse of children left in their own homes is below the state and national averages, according to an independent evaluation by the Center for Law and Social Policy. CONTACT: Barbara Drake, El Paso County Department of Human Services, (719) 444-5532.

  9. The Bridge Builders, Bronx, New York. Combine the giving and guidance of ten foundations with the knowledge and enthusiasm of eight community-based agencies, then partner with the child protective services agency and what do you get?  A significant reduction in the number of children taken from their homes, with no compromise of safety, in a neighborhood that is among those losing more children to foster care than any others in New York City.  That’s the record of the Bridge Builders Initiative in the Highbridge section of The Bronx.  (NCCPR has received a grant to assist the Bridge Builders with media work). CONTACTS: Francis Ayuso, Project Director, ayusof@highbridgelife.org, (718) 681-2222; Mike Arsham, executive director, Child Welfare Organizing Project, co-chair Bridge Builders Executive Committee, mike@cwop.org,
    212-348-3000.   Throughout the City, the Administration for Children’s Services has made significant progress in safely keeping children in their own homes.  Since 1998, even with backsliding since 2006 in the wake of highly-publicized deaths of children “known to the system,” the number of children taken from their parents over the course of a year has been cut significantly, with no compromise of safety. Though child abuse fatalities garnered extensive media attention in 2006, such fatalities have declined during the reforms, only to increase in the wake of the backsliding.  Overall reabuse of children left in their own homes declined significantly when entries into foster care were reduced. Contact: Sharman Stein, Administration for Children’s Services 212-341-0999

  10. The transformation in Maine.  After a little girl named Logan Marr was taken needlessly from her mother only to be killed by a foster mother who formerly worked for the child welfare agency, the people of Maine refused to settle for pat answers about background checks and licensing standards.  They zeroed in on the fact that Maine had one of the highest proportions of children in the country trapped in foster care.  The combination of grassroots demands for change from below and new leadership at the top led to a dramatic reduction in the number of children taken away over the course of a year.  And while the state still has a long way to go in using kinship care, the proportion of children placed with relatives has more than doubled.  It’s all been done without compromising safety, earning the support of the state’s independent child welfare ombudsman.  CONTACTS: Dean Crocker, Vice President for Programs, Maine Children's Alliance,  (207) 623-1868 ext. 212, dcrocker@mekids.org; Mary Callahan, founder Maine Alliance for DHS Accountability and Reform, (207) 353-4223, maryec_98@yahoo.com

  11. Changing financial incentives.  While not a program per se, making this change spurs private child welfare agencies to come up with all sorts of innovations. This is clear from the experience in Illinois. Until the late 1990s, Illinois reimbursed private child welfare agencies the way other states typically do: They were paid for each day they kept a child in foster care.  Thus, agencies were rewarded for letting children languish in foster care and punished for achieving permanence.

    Now those incentives have been reversed, in part because of pressure from the Illinois Branch of the ACLU, which won a lawsuit against the child welfare system. Today, private agencies in Illinois are rewarded both for adoptions (which often are conversions of kinship placements to subsidized guardianships) and for returning children safely to their own homes.  They are penalized for prolonged stays in foster care.  As soon as the incentives changed, the “intractable” became tractable, the “dysfunctional” became functional, and the foster care population plummeted.  And children are safer. Today, Illinois takes away children at one of the lowest rates in the country. Independent, court-appointed monitors have found that child safety has improved.  CONTACT: Ben Wolf, Illinois Branch, ACLU, (312) 201-9760, ext. 420, bwolf@aclu-il.org

  12. Due process of law.  Even the best programs are no substitute for due process.  That means court hearings in child welfare cases should be open.  But that also means  it’s urgent for accused parents to have meaningful legal representation from well-trained attorneys with low caseloads and solid support staff.  It’s not a matter of getting “bad” parents off, it’s a matter of challenging case records that often are rife with error, countering cookie-cutter “service plans” that provide no services and ensuring that families get the help they need.  A pilot project to provide such representation in some counties in Washington State has had such success in safely keeping families together that even the Attorney General’s office, which represents the child welfare agency in these cases, favors expanding it.  FURTHER INFORMATION AND CONTACTS are available from the Washington State Office of Public Defense at this website: http://www.opd.wa.gov/Parents%20Representation%20Program.htm And for additional due process recommendations, see NCCPR’s Due Process Agenda.

http://www.nccpr.org/index_files/Page410.html

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Average: 6 (1 vote)

Our Preservation Plan

I must say that I am amazed at the three workers I have been working with for three months!
They treat me as a human being.
They SEE my progress.
They READ my updates.
They LISTENED when I told them what help I needed.
They SEE the happiness of my children.
They KNOW we are going to make it!
The judge is a very cold and stiff bitch with a god complex; she loves her job.
I see NO room for progress when dealing with her; only set-pat words on paper that she holds as the gospel truth.
But, all these workers that know me well and write good things about me will have to be heard.  I no longer fear
her; reunification is the goal.
There are good plans out there for the benefit of the child and family.  There are good people.  There needs to be more.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Benefits

I'm glad to learn the team you are working with is focused on family reunification.  I believe your children need that, and your efforts prove you want and need that, too.  However, I just can't help but feel sad that your adopted children had to go through so much in your home before you got this sort of help.  In other words, if you were the birth parent of these children, I'd have more hope/faith in the system that's finally working in favor of your family.  But the truth is, you are the adoptive parent, which means somewhere along the line, adoption workers/social services failed these children -- children who were placed "in-care" because they needed a responsible, trustworthy adult's protection.  In terms of "child protection", and what I know about your specific case, I don't think much was done the first time around to ensure the prevention of future neglect/abuse.  [Nothing personal, but, I see so many losses, and very few benefits to those who really needed them.]

For the sake of discussion, where do you think you were failed in that regard?  How could your adopted children have been spared the sexual abuse that took place in your home?  Could that trauma, and all the subsequent  fall-out have been prevented?

 

 

My Failure

The main point is; I married the wrong man!  I believed in him and trusted him.  He was from a broken home where the
mother gave him and his brother up and finally the grandparents took them.  He was totally destroyed by the abandonment.
He fooled everyone in this town, not just me.
I loved my children and did NOT abuse them.  I was here and did my best.  I can not be held responsible for what he
chose to do. 
And now, I am taking what is left and going forward.  I put my betrayal behind and look to the future for the five of us.
I put my children first.  We are a good example of those who make it, after the abuse adoption is.
I do take it personal, Kerry, because I have to.  I am personally responsible for what happened because my evilx has
left the situation after almost destroying the whole family.
My daughter and I do have a future because I choose to stay and fight.  My son has what is best for all of us at this
point.  My two oldest are strong and doing good.  My two youngest are in a loving extended family situation where I
am a huge part of their lives.  My youngest is the one we give great attention to because of his tendency to shut down.
Having been in so many placements before here has been a great difficulty in the bonding process, but during and
now in this place we find ourselves in:  it was a process to find victory over wrongs that were made. 
In life we aim to make-it as best we can.  Ours was more involved than most.  We will make it and that's the victory.
Not dwelling on the past, but reaching for the future for all the positive it holds while dealing with the now.
I see hope and a future.  Not perfect, but I don't believe anyone has perfect.  I see happiness in my children.  I see
them moving on and making it.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Not alone

I think there are gazzilions of people who are willing to admit they married the wrong person.  But you mention things that send red-flags to me that should have been questioned by adoption workers long ago.

BOTH of you came from very dysfunctional childhoods.  Did any of this get addressed during your adoption application process?

[I'm asking because I have heard/read many complaints made by AP's discussing the "invasive questioning" done during the home-study portion of the adoption process.  Many can't see the logic behind the questions asked about intimate sexual relationships, and yet... like your case represents... if one partner isn't having sex with the other... where else can sex be taking place?]

We were asked...

We were asked generic questions.  Most adoptive parents, or anyone with a not-so-pretty childhood, tend to put
the best forward.  I was not even aware, in my now/then that the abuse I suffered had anything to do with the future.
I was not a pedophile.  I took children that were not getting any PAP's to even consider them.  My failure was too
many children with too many severe needs and married to a man I didn't even know. 
I am separate from who he is and was; he put himself out there as a very normal healthy man.  I will not live in what-could-have-been, only in what is and will be.
In our case the damage is done and the perpetrator is in prison for a long time.  I have openly and honestly  accepted
my failures.  I am not a failure, I had a failure.  I have a second chance and I am making the most of it.  What other
AP's see as their failures, I do hope they seek and get help.  If we could go back and change things; if it were possible
then it would come out better.  Now it must be made better with what we have.
I do not see how my situation could have been any different unless we had not adopted.  People do adopt.  The agencies
are to blame for their part in not screening PAP's better; yet who is to really know when something in a person's past
may come forward and ruin a good situation? 
It all starts with the biological family getting services in the home to keep their child/children.  That's the country's fault.  Then there is the greediness of the placement people in both countries that needs to be dealt with; shut down adoptions until it is solved or done away with. 
Next is the agencies who approve PAP's.  These agencies are dealing with people who DESPERATELY want to adopt a child.  They have friends who will write anything for the PAP's and the agency states that they are not looking for perfect people to adopt.
20 years ago I had no idea my evilx was a pedophile in the making and he did a great job of hiding it.  His queer
ways were no queerer than any other.  I dare say that most married couples know their spouse masturbates (so I've
heard), but I had no clue but only once.  Does the agency ask questions that would bring out pedophile tendencies?
Do they not take people at face value?  There is no way to find perfect PAP's.  There is no real way to determine if
one couple over another will be better parents; it's all in the years to come that the evidence is clear whether one
is better than the other. Agencies do have the power to dig-deeper and should. 
I came here and opened myself up to all of this.  I honestly take the blame for what I did and didn't do.  Where are
the rest of the adoptive parents who have experienced some horrors along the way?  Hiding....  And that's where
the problem lies:  no one is willing to confess that they need help and that adoption is not what they thought it would
be. No one wants to feel the shame that I feel.  Not many are seeking help.  I'm one adoptive parent taking on the
world.  I intend to do it and win. 
I've answered all the questions with all the openness and experience that I have.  It's easy to blast the only one here
who cares enough to seek and find the help she needs.  Red Flags are my sins...  confessed and forgiven.  To
go on is the point.  Adoption workers are out of the picture too soon after finalization to see or know any Red Flags
exist in a family.  They need to be in the picture for a long time to get the real picture; and past the honeymoon.
My dysfunctional family was only made clear to me as the years went on.  I lived with a two-headed-monster who
was always telling me she was such a good mother; I didn't believe her but I never dwelt on it; I just accepted
what I had.  As an older mom, yes, I can see the Red Flags, but 20 years ago I saw none. 
As a Christian, knowing how God changes a person, I felt the past was not important, only the future.  And now,
after experiencing how the past can destroy the future, I have sought MUCH help and have come a long way in
healing.  I have been here, confessed my sins and am truly going forward.  I hope there are PAP's/AP's out there
who read my story and have the courage to come forward to find help for themselves and their adopted children.
Not every story is so horrid as mine.  But I know of some that need help.  I intend to help.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Protection HAS to be better

I agree with you that no adoptive parent is going to be "perfect", but let's make something very clear -- there's a huge difference between a person being "imperfect" versus someone who's a pervert or child abuser.  These things MUST be screened, and MUST be weeded-out, especially for those children who were taken away from parents with those very same problems!  Yes, I too blame the service-workers who claim to work FOR the child.  Truth is, many are working for an income, safety provided or not.

You made the following comment:

who is to really know when something in a person's past may come forward and ruin a good situation? 

I'm reminded of the expression "one rotten (or bad) apple spoils the barrel".  Maybe I seem judgemental, but doesn't common sense dictate past problems will eventually resurface again?  When does denial of a problem ever benefit a group of people?

Denial versus Not Knowing...

I see no common sense being used when people want to adopt.  They only see the end product: a child no matter
what.  I've seen it time and time again how PAP's MAKE things happen...  finding the money, the references, the
good report from the doctor, the right people saying the right things... MAKING something happen instead of
facing reality.  Common sense goes out the door when a 50 year old who has a lot of money and a very huge
need begins to think adoption.  Common sense that says, maybe I'm not emotionally strong enough to handle
a child with a lot of emotionally problems, is not part of an AP's perspective.  They want what they want.
In my case, only, there was no denial, only a very unaware naivety that said I can do this.  In evilx's case, he knew
exactly what he was and what he was doing; he KNEW!  He planned.  He manipulated.  He used and he abused.
In families there can be many victims of many different things; but taking into consideration that a pedophile is a
psychopath to begin with, with a great ability to deceive, there can and are years of secrecy. 
I would like to ask a question of those here who were sexually abused in their adoptive homes:
Was the perpetrator able to keep others from knowing what was going on?  Was he/she a psychopath; in your
own opinion? 

And yet another question:
Yes, there are MANY homes where one partner is not having sex with the other; is it only the child that takes
the place of the partner; and when the adoptee is an adult and not able to have sex with the partner; does that
adoptee become more vigilant thinking the partner might turn to their child?

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

Knowing and denying

As one who was sexually used by a few, I have always seen my my afamily as a bunch of psychopaths.  I learned this simply because they all refused to talk about the problems they had with one another.  Lucky for them, they had me to dump their problems upon, making "confession is good for the soul" a bit sick, sordid, and corrupt in my mind.

In terms of the question:  "does that adoptee become more vigilant thinking the partner might turn to their child?"  I admit, I became hypervigilent with my own children.  In the early days, I would trust no one with my babies.  I have been criticized and admonished for not letting my kids sleep-over certain people's houses alone, and to that I tell hub-man:  "You forget what I know".

This is trauma I will NEVER outgrow, and I made it my duty to protect my children as much as I humanly can.

appalled

" I was not even aware, in my now/then that the abuse I suffered had anything to do with the future.
The agencies are to blame for their part in not screening PAP's better
That's the country's fault.
Then there is the greediness of the placement people in both countries
Next is the agencies who approve PAP's.
Where are the rest of the adoptive parents who have experienced some horrors along the way?  Hiding....  And that's where the problem lies
In our case the damage is done and the perpetrator is in prison for a long time
As a Christian, knowing how God changes a person, I felt the past was not important, only the future. "

I feel disgusted by your words..  You say that you take the blame for what happened, but all I see is you blaming it on everyone but yourself.. And how could you think that you didn't think your abusive past wouldn't have affected your so called family??? You are your past!! it is what makes you who you are, every bit of it. And don't try to use a god as your shield.. I have been told that god forgives all sins.. so that means that god approves and cares about all the pedophiles, rapist, murderers, adoptive parents,ect... I tell ya, if their all going to heaven, I will happily burn in hell.. I don't want god's approval or forgiveness.. Both you and your ex are the perpetrators.. Did you ever ask yourself if the children you adopted even needed your care in the first place? Have you ever asked yourself if your stolen children really needed to be taken from their lives and dumped into yours?? No you didn't or you wouldn't have adopted in the first place.. You are living a lie and forcing these innocent children to suffer for it!!
You can be mad at me all you like but I live with someone who went threw almost the same thing that your adoptive children have. I see the nightmares and the way he wakes up from them. I see the torment that he relives every day of his life as a consequence from someone just like you who didn't think before they act.

coming from my background

Teddy, coming from my background had I been adopted into your home after all I had been threw already watching another one of my families fall apart I'd probably be a psychopath..... No fault of your... it's just the perversion that comes with adoption and foster care. Your-a kids are lucky and so are you... had their pasts been worse then what they were this could have totally destroyed them. But again they are lucky they also had you.... but gambling with children's futures is unacceptable... The system does it everyday for profits... not cause they care....Not cause they want what is best for the child... but because they want money. That is all that matters... to them... otherwise they would fix the system and take the loss of profits ..but they flat out refuse like they have the right... If the system and those who worked for it really cared there would not be such an accepted discrimination and prejudice towards the poor like current day. a\And foster care and adoption would be an absolute last resort. But if that happened could you imagine the billions of dollars these people would lose? I thought it was the year 2008 but according to the upper-class/government who run the system we have not left the 1800's yet. All that being said... It worked out for your family... yes... but as you can see from reading that is very rare... But the children should never have been put in that situation by the system. But from these kinds of people who run it I guess we can't expect more.. from people who only think with their bank accounts.

You wrote: who is to really know when something in a person's past may come forward and ruin a good situation?

CPS fees on that in fact they will dig into your past and try to make it happen... to the upper-class/government money is all that matters... that is what makes them the upper-class... they will stand on top of anyone including children disabled or not to make sure it stays that way.

People want children... and about 90% of them don't care how they get them... are those people really where we as society should put them?  Abused or stolen?

How many more victims will the system create before it stops?How nay more parents have to kill themselves after the system rips their families into little profitable peices....

How many more kids have to kill themselves in foster care or on the streets cause they just want to go home?

The upper-class/government is responsible for so much death and misery... and so are we as a people for believing the upper-class/government lies and con jobs... even I was at fault.... and I grew up in the system even...

The only way this will change is by force... the upper-class have made sure they made that clear to us... by their complete and utter lack of morals, ethics and decency...

History always repeats it's self when the upper-class just simply go to far thinking they are gods...... when in fact they got some of the letters backwards... and they are DOGS...

The more I see and hear...

Sexual abuse is rampant in this country.  A lot of families either hide it well when they know, or they are taken in by
the psychopath/pedophile until untold damage is done...  almost everyone I talk to has said there was one form or
another of sexual abuse in their extended families over the last 50 years.  I talk to them about stopping the pattern.
Most people are unaware that it is a continuing pattern.
First and foremost, PAP's should be made very aware that children in other countries: foster care, orphanages, and
some 1st homes are very likely to have been sexually abused.  The PAP's should be engaged in very intimate
conversations about their extended families, their childhood, and their own, personal experiences with sexual
abuse.  Yes, people lie.  I was lied to from day one.   People do not want to believe it can happen in their family. It
CAN and DOES happen in MANY families.
Agencies should keep it  UP-FRONT that adopting a child involves some deep soul-searching that WILL make
PAP's uncomfortable!  That the most important  outcome is for children to have their needs met by people who
had theirs met; people who are in this for the child's sake and not their own. 

Society is sick.  It gets sicker all the time.  And if a sick society keeps appeasing sick people, more and more
children will be placed in sick abusive homes.  Most adoptive homes, IMO, do not start out to be abusive.  The
abuse is the result of a lack of communication between the agency and the PAP's.  I was lied to about many
things my children had suffered in their birth countries; lied to about the extent of their emotional and physical
problems.  Even a good adoptive home will find it difficult to deal with the unknowns that spring upon them in
the years past the finalization.  Let's face it:  adoption is a very serious undertaking with no guarantees, and most
PAP's just can't see the possibility of a disrupted adoption.  Until they have faced the honesty of many other families
who have had their adoptions fail, there will be nothing but the same old same old.

"I can be changed by what happens to me, I refuse to be reduced by it." M.A.
One Step Up From Bottom
Teddy

"upper-class"

I think far too often people believe the upper-class is above under-handed activity... and yet I truly fear the upper-class elite who like to keep their upper-hand.  These are the people no one is to question, these are the people who sell deceit, these are the people who want to make sure no flaw is seen in their practice.

Those who believe corruption in the heart and soul cannot exist within the people/positions of power are simply making life worse for those who have a very small voice in society.  Who has the smallest voice of all?  Children and the elderly, of course.  [I believe abuse statistics prove how well respected both groups are in industrial nations.]

I think it's funny how so many of us "angry adoptees" see the upper-class/government/religious types bottom-living scum.  This is when/where most find me very confusing and contradicting... surely not ALL powers and influence are bowing to the mating-calls of the adoption industry.  Surely there are those with power and money with a heart and compassion for those who have been hurt and abandoned.  Surely we are not living in hell just yet?

As long as I breathe, I like to believe there's hope for something better for those children facing Child Placement Services.

I'm afraid to think of the time I have to say to myself:  stop believing.

 

I stop believing after I ran

I stop believing after I ran for my life from a pedophile to a cop and was dragged back for more. I stoped believing when I watch the upper-class/government send police to beat up he poor and homeless and helpless, dumping handicap people out of their wheelchairs.. using the media to convince people these kids are gang members... to justify the assaults of children trying to survive outside on the streets...but what made me truly stop believing was when as an an adult I tried to stop them an asked them for mercy and they locked me up and tried to have me labeled as "crazy". I have watched to many of my friends die at their hands to see them as anything but a threat to children and our future.

restoring my own faith in humanity

It was only after we started PPL that I began to see why I have reason to believe faith in humanity CAN be restored.  I have seen/read the works of people like Lori Carangelo, Roelie Post and Brian Douglas... all of whom I have learned something very big (and small):  the human heart and compassionate soul is not dead.... not yet.  I have seen the restoration efforts made by former heroine addicts offering counseling to those released from prison... I have watched adoptees who have been abused by their owners offer comfort and guidance to those who have endured the same.  How can I not see how humanity has a face and a name?

Starting small can only lead into something big, especially if it's nurtured and cultivated enough.  I believe proper networking is key.

I'd hate to think it's too late for radical Child Placement reform to become a living reality.

What I do have is faith in

What I do have is faith in people like you. Good people who think with their minds and hearts and care about one another.......

The upper-class/government are a complete and utter  lost cause... their own choice of course...

Traditions worth keeping

When I was little, my grandmother, (afather's mother), was very cruel and mean to me.  I hated going to her house; she made me very aware of my place and position in Her Family, and as an outsider (adoptee) it 's safe to say I was not welcomed, liked, or embraced by her.

It wasn't until I turned 13 things began to change.  I stood up to the old woman, and told her off.  I was scared out of my mind, but I just couldn't take her crap anymore.  She was a woman with little money but lots of power.  She ruled with an iron fist and fired temper, and hell had no fury like J when she got pissed.  [It's one of the things I actually admired about her.]

Years later, when I went away to college, she would send me care-packages filled with cookies.  She wrote how she missed me.  She couldn't drive, and she had very little money to spend on gifts, but what she sent me came from her heart and her kitchen... and it was the world to me.

When I went to the nursing school across the street from her house, she made sure she had lunch ready for me each day. For an hour each school day, I sat and ate lunch with her and my grandfather.  I'd talk, she'd laugh, and my grandfather would sit and smile happy that he could eat in peace.

When I was working at the hospital as a staff RN, she'd have coffee and food waiting for me, knowing I'd only have a few minutes to chat.  I loved knowing we could always make the most with what we had.  Truth is, there were many days that brief visit was the highlight of my night and day.

Over the years, she let me in her world.  I learned WHY she was such a bitch to so many.  She told me stories about her life as a child, a wife and a mother, and all her stories made me see her not as The Old Woman, but as a girl who needed a close friend.  [Eventually she taught me how to cook her favorite recipes, and she let me keep the fork I liked most from her drawer... so in my book, she could do no wrong any longer.]

Within my first year of nursing, my grandfather became very sick, and eventually became a patient on the floor I was working.  During the midnight shifts he'd scream my name, asking for help.  During the days my grandmother would cry asking, "What am I going to do?".  There were lots of extended family members visiting, but no one was saying what had to be said.  After my grandfather died, she had nothing, yet she still made lunches for me.

Eventually she lost her eyesight, and had to move down south to live with her daughters.  The last time we spoke it was a few months before she died.  She told me how much she missed and loved me.  I told her the same.  She told me she wished she never left her house and her home.  I told her knew exactly what she meant.

To an outsider, The Old Woman was cold, distant and difficult to please.  What many people didn't know is this:  she had much to protect, and in her eyes, lots of people were a threat.   She hated the idea of more things in her life being taken away, and knowing that, we both became closer and closer.  At one point she finally admitted to me:  I didn't hate you, I just didn't like who your father married.  For years she punished me for what she thought was her son's mistake.  Once she realized how much she hurt me, she suddenly became my biggest fan, always announcing, "THIS is my granddaughter..."

It wasn't until I learned of an adoptee's suicide and the death of The Old Woman that I knew where I needed to raise my voice for better child placement.  I am one of those who strongly believe adoption is not the first or best option a person should consider, and foster care as it exists is in desperate need of reform and repair.   I fear the American mentality that our wealth means we provide the best services, especially when it comes to child-care.  I have seen far too many times how money, and misguided motives bring neglect, abuse and apathy.

I read a piece written about an African organization called  African Network for the Prevention Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPCAN). The organization is trying to help poor foster-families generate more money for themselves through various activities.  Unlike in the US, Canada and much of Europe, most of the "abandoned" children in these regions of the world lost their parents to AIDS.  Rather than being sent to an orphanage or children' home, they are being taken-in by much older neighbors or extended family members with very limited resources and opportunities for an increase in income.  I mention this because without my relationship with The Old Woman, I would not have learned about my own strength and character.  Not by our own choosing, she became my mentor, and without her, I know my life would have been very lonely and miserable, (not to mention there would have been many days where I would have been really hungry!)  She taught me how those who have the least are usually the ones who give the most.  She taught me there is nothing worse than to be poor in spirit.  She taught me there is a reason for everything, and no life should go to waste.

According to ANPCAN program director, Ms Susan Chege, the organization advocates for foster care other than adoption in children’s homes.” We try to convince prospective foster parents to adopt orphaned and vulnerable children in their homes, from where we can scheme ways of helping them”, she says.

Chege wonders why its only the poor with little to offer who are willing to adopt children. "But we are planning to recruit middle and upper class society on the need to foster the over 2.4 million OVCS in Kenya in their own homes.”

ANPPCAN program is set to expand to other parts of the country to advocate for foster care to over 2.4 million orphaned and vulnerable children countrywide.

According to ANPCAN , there are over 600 foster families in korogocho alone. But with the rapid rise in prices of food and essential commodities, foster parents have a tough time ahead.

“If we don’t take it upon ourselves to take care of this children, needy children might end up in the streets and cause problems to us all.” Adds Chege.

Despite the hard economic times and myriad problems associated with slum life, slum women assiduously strive to provide for foster children under their care. “They rely entirely on me my helplessness notwithstanding”, concurs Mama Were as her ever present smile slowly creases into lines of thought.

“God demands that you should always love your neighbor”, she says lifting her old bible which she holds in high esteem. Glad for having shared her story, Mama Were bids us goodbye, regretting for having nothing to offer to visitors. [From:  "Slum women struggle with aid orphans", Sept 11, 2008, http://africasciencenews.org/asns/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=668&Itemid=1]

It makes me rhetorically think:  what do the poor and the elderly have that the young and wealthy do not?

Problem solving skills,

Problem solving skills, first hand experience. And know what it is to go hungry in a world where their is food and water everywhere... but only some are allowed to have access to it.

Wisdom comes to those that didn't want it.

glad you posted this. glad

glad you posted this. glad to know there is a group that has the CPR you coined in its title. glad they're working on SOLUTIONS vs. merely screaming in anguish/anger.

personally, i think the answer to all this has to do with economic inequality, culture and class. america is still a backwater, clinging to our separatist independence and rejecting more social models as we hoard what benefits us personally. and, unfortunately, the world follows in our footsteps.

Pound Pup Legacy