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Posts Tagged ‘foster care’

Wow!  Can I just tell you what a joy it was to read, Man Shoes-The Journey To Becoming A Better Man, Husband & Father?  It is my privilege to review this book; I believe that the author, Tom Watson, has some real valuable wisdom to offer his readers.   Tom  was born to parents ill prepared to raise a child in a healthy & life affirming way.  He was placed into 13 different foster homes…some of which were little more than a systemic form of a physical & psychological torture chamber. 

Tom was placed into foster care because his Aunt Donna & Uncle Roy found the courage to report the erratic parental care that infant Tom was experiencing.  His parents would drop him off here and there and neglect to pick him up at the times that they agreed to.  At one year of age, he became a foster child because his aunt and uncle found the strength of character to endure family censure by reporting the situation to the proper authorities.  Tom expresses his gratefulness to them for doing so…even though he suffered greatly in multiple foster homes until he came to the place where his body and soul were nurtured.  His life story actually proceeds with joy and gratefulness.  To read the rest of this review go to:  Book In Review

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Have you ever met an individual that is so rare and special that you could compare them to a valuable gem?  Let me tell you about such a person, Jessica Angelique, who has a passionate mission in life to shine a light on life changing non for profit organizations.  Jessica has had an interesting life full of ups and downs and because of that she has dedicated her life to making the world a better place.  Her heart has been drawn to organizations that help build people up and educate them; which allows them to positively impact the world for the better.  She is in need of help to continue to expand her ability to impact the world by educating them through a wonderful opportunity called the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Pepsi is offering up an opportunity to win a $250,000 grant to those who win the most votes in their category.  Jessica Angelique is the creator and executive director of Definitive Voices.   She is also an author who has written of her life’s journey; navigating through the challenging foster care system into a positive, purpose filled adulthood.   She uses her voice to empower people and organizations to be aware and proactive in their communities to build up those in need.

Through Definitive Voices Jessica uses social media to shine a light on individuals and organizations that are doing their best to help people improve the world through education, awareness, and hands on action that is changing the lives of those they encounter.  Jessica needs your help by getting you to go to this link and vote for her Definitive Voices so that she can expand her ability to positively impact the lives of others.  It only takes a couple of seconds once you register and sign in using an active email and a Pepsi password.  Here is the link to cast your vote daily until the 28th of February: http://www.refresheverything.com/definitivevoices(more…)

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        Another family has made the news by dropping off their children, 9 of them from ages 1 to 17 at a hospital in Nebraska.  It is in my mind, in cases of abandonment, almost as if the children are treated like a litter of unwanted puppies.  In mid July, Nebraska made its own news headlines by instituting a “safe haven law”. 

         Most states in the US have some sort of a safe haven law which is designed to protect children who are either unwanted; or, in unsafe environments regarding living conditions, or in situations of neglect or abuse.  The safe haven laws are meant to allow a safe place for children to be left such as a hospital or a fire station.  What is unique about the new law in Nebraska is that it doesn’t clarify who has the authority to drop off said children…it could be a baby sitter, grandparent, parent, neighbor or what have you.  Another important point, most of the states that implement safe haven laws usually are set up to protect infants.  Nebraska made headlines by not limiting the reach of the safe haven laws to infant only drop offs…it basically says “minors”…leaving the new law open to interpetation.

         The courts will have to clarify the definition of the safe haven law so that the protection of the children and the people who abandon them is more clear.  At the moment, anyone under the age of 19 is allowed to be dropped off in a safe haven.  There will be no legal repercussions as long as abuse or neglect is not involved.  In some ways, this may help those situations where we read about newborn infants born to teen mothers who are dumped in a garbage can or left outside alone.  Maybe in those cases, some children will be saved…but, this new law opens up a whole new set of issues regarding children and their families.

         I know that the law was set up in good faith…to protect the children.  However, you have to wonder about the psychological damage to those same children who are old enough to understand that they have been abandoned by the people most trusted in their lives.  An infant does not comprehend the abandonment until they are older and the information is presented to them…an older child certainly does understand the idea of abandoment and there certainly will ensue emotional and psychological damage.  However, i will say an infant may not understand the full scope of abandonment; but, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by it; when they are affected, it is often called an attachment disorder…where the baby has trouble bonding with their caregivers, either giving or receiving love…sometimes, it is even turned into a failure to thrive.  All human beings deserve to be loved and wanted.

         Studies have been done on babies or infants who have been abandoned in other countries and left in orphanages…if they do not get enough human interaction that shows love or caring…those children can actually die from the lack of human, loving touch.  Don’t think that when an infant is dropped off, even at a safe haven…that they won’t know the difference between being wanted and unwanted.

         People who find themselves in desperate circumstances may be tempted to go the route of the safe haven in a moment of extreme duress.  However, the long term consequences make me wonder whether this is a viable option.  People who abuse or neglect their children willingly or freely are not going to be so very concerned about making sure that the place they abandon their child is considered a safe place.  It would be better to put into place programs that facilitate helping families who are in danger of imploding. 

         Not to mention, those parents or caregivers who are feeling desperate…say…in a financial crisis…they can’t afford to feed or house their children…may think that this safe haven is an option for them.  The consequences of such an action could be considered permanent…even if their circumstances change in time.  Their custody could be forever impacted by that one moment of temptation to abandon the children in a safe place. 

         I wonder if other options are being given as much media & legal attention, such as making a short term placement with social services; for short term foster care in cases where, say a housing or financial need is threatening the ability to keep a family together? 

          Children aren’t like litters of animals…not that animals should be abandoned either!  Being a pet owner or a parent is a huge responsiblity…the demands are serious.  People should not enter into the role of a pet owner or parenting without alot of thought!  Parents need to take their commitment to parenting seriously. 

          If a parent is considering abandoning their children…wouldn’t it be better to work with an agency and make a permanency plan such as adoption?  Definately, if that were the case, doing it in infancy is better than waiting until a child is old enough to be scarred by an emotional and physical abandonment by their parents or caregivers.  At least by making sure that the child/children were placed in a safe and loving home…a child would have a chance to grow up and to be nutured in a loving environment. 

          No one should ever be made to feel unwanted, unloved or unprotected.  Abandonment leaves permanent scares that impact their young lives and often, other generations of lives as well.  What are your feelings on the safe haven laws?

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       In Texas, an appeals court overruled the state’s decision to remove the children of the sect, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The appeals court has found that the CPS department had not proven evidence of immediate danger of physical health or safety of children who had not reached puberty.  The court also said that their beliefs, in and of themselves, did not place children in danger of abuse.

          This is a victory for the 41 mothers who brought the suit against the state for removing their children.  Initially, the state had said that 31 of the mothers were under the age of 18.  It has since been determined that 15 of that 31 are OVER the age of 18.  What that means, for the other mothers, isn’t clear.

        Does this mean that the children will be returned back to their families?  No one seems to know for sure.  The ruling is being reviewed.  It is possible that the 450 children who were removed; could be removed from temporary foster care and returned to their families. 

          No one really seems to mention the fathers.  It is almost as if by accusing some of the fathers of sexually abusing young women…they all are guilty by association.  This is wrong.  Damage has been done to “whole” families…some of them may even be “INNOCENT”. 

          Part of the problem here is that in America, we are supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty.  That didn’t really happen here.  Truthfully, children need to be protected.  However, in “protecting” them…the system damaged others.  This whole case is disturbing.  Allegations that can be proven true, of abuse, are horrendous…and should be prosecuted.  Those who were under suspicion and are proven to be innocent have been done a great injustice.

          The mothers had been represented by the Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.  TRLA is a non-profit organization.  They help people, in southwestern Texas, with low income to receive legal services.  http://www.trla.org/   TRLA has been instrumental in helping these mothers to find a pathway to once again regain custody.  Update 5-23-08  Today it was announced that the state of Texas child welfare officials will appeal this landmark decision.  In a notification to the court the state says that a motion will be filed later today!   Keep watching to see what happens….as the outcome will surely define the limits or lack of limits on the department of child welfare that the courts will enforce.  This affects us all!!! 

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        Here is a news item that will make your head spin.  Think you are a good parent? What if you made a simple, honest mistake?   Do you understand that a simple misunderstanding could cause you to loose the custody of your child to a government agency…even for just a few days?  Child Protective Services is such of a powerful agency that even common sense can be overridden, at times, when the zeal to “protect” child from abuse or neglect.

       In theory, CPS is in the business of keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect.  In it’s worst form….they cause irreparable damage.  I read an article today referring to a case of a father who went to a Tiger’s ballgame at the CoAmerica ballfield in Detroit.  He had his 7 year old son with him.

       The father bought them some Mike’s Hard Lemonade.  For those of you who don’t know…it has alcohol in it.  The father did not know this.  The father works out of the country alot.  A security guard spotted the boy holding his bottle and confiscated it…and then, had the boy taken to an ER to be checked out.  From there it only gets worse.  CPS was called and the child was taken to foster care; this, all because of a lack of knowledge that the lemonade had liquor in it. 

       The child was checked out at the ER…and there was no measurable amount of liquor in his system.  Still the child was placed in foster care.  There was an aunt who is a social worker and foster parent, who lived in new england; she drove all night to get to Michigan to take custody of the boy.  When she got here…they told her she had to have a hotel room which she promptly went to get.

       By the time she got back to CPS they had placed the child into a foster home which they would not disclose to the family.   A CPS worker, and a police officer said that placing the child into foster care was not necessary in their opinion; but, the supervisors insisted. The police officer at the hospital after interviewing the parties involved believed it was an honest mistake.  I am all for balancing safety and well being for children…but, it must be balanced with common sense.

        Eventually, after the department forced the father to leave his own home for a week…the child was returned to his mother after two days of foster care. 

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       It was announced today that the court in Texas that has authority over the 416 children that were removed under suspicion of abuse from their parents who are part of the polyamous sect of Latter Day Saints has deemed it necessary to move 27 of those children.

        The 27 chosen children are actually teenaged boys.  They are being moved over 7 hours away from the area to a ranch for troubled boys and girls.  What????  How does this even make sense.  They will be over 7 hours away from their families, from the court, from Child Protective Services that will have jurisdiction over them.  How in the world is does this make sense?  Services will have to be coordinated between counties hours away from each other…this is costly and adds extra complications for the kids involved.

        Why wouldn’t they keep them close; so that those who are in the foster care system can maintain contact with appropriate family members?  How will they have regular contact with the lawyers, investigators, social workers, educators, counselors, and so on?  This will put even more of a financial strain on the system.

          I have worked in the foster care system as a foster parent..i know what seperation from family can do to those kids; even when they are allowed visitation with family.   in this case, i wonder if they will even allow visitation…and if they do…how long will it before family relationships are deemed safe or unsafe for the kids?

        Even if the worst is found to be true and mothers and fathers have allowed/condoned/or abused these kids…there are other family members, i am sure, who would be willing to do a family placement to maintain some kind of healthy bonding for the kids.  The system has to be alert to inflicting more emotional damage to these kids while trying to protect them from other abuses they may have suffered; otherwise, they are guilty of damaging the children also.

       There must be Aunts, Uncles, Adult Sisters or Brothers, or Grandparents who want to protect these children and maintain contact so that the children are not further damaged.  It doesn’t compute.  I think we dont have all of the facts…but, because this investigation is so large and they cant investigate it all quickly…this is one way to seperate and divide until they understand the complexities of the cases…who is a family member to whom…and who abused who.

      At the same time, I wonder how much more damaged, some of these kids will be…when all is said and done.  At this point, no one knows who has been abused and who hasn’t but they are all being treated the same.  They need to be healthy, safe, shown appropriate love and affection and feel secure.  Those things are in short supply when you are thrust into a whole new world from what you are used to.

      Feelings of trust, bonding, and abandonment are all at risk in these kinds of situations.  Trauma is a given…the trick is to do the least amount of damage possible.  It is a horrible situation all of the way around.   The poor kids who are innocent in all of this…poor parents who Could be innocent in the area of abuse/neglect…those are the ones I feel sorry for.  They are all being traumatized.  The ones who are guilty…i don’t have too much sympathy for.

         The children are feeling scared,abandoned,lonely,sad,confused, traumatized, exposed, unsafe and uncertain of what comes next like all foster children.  Of course, those who were abused were also feeling those same emotions during the time they endured the alledged abuse.

         I would wish for a speedy resolution of the investigation; but, i know better…and that is why i say…there is more damage to come…just from the length of the time away from the things that the children know as safety and security!

           *This is an update to the blog post i did on the 12th of April.

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        Say what you want about “religous” groups that segregate themselves away from society…but, the children are the innocents in those situations; the children involved in the Fundalmentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are probably going to end up in foster care en masse.  There have been claims of physical, sexual, spiritual and emotional abuse; enough reasons to remove children in every state in America.

         In Texas, more than 400 children were removed.  This group practices polygamy..having more than one mate.  The problem is with this particular group is that it is alledged that the adult men forced or coerced young female child brides to get married and to have marital relations.  This is illegal.  In almost all cultures in the United States this is considered sexual child abuse.  What is worse is that these men used God to validate their right to abuse these children; making them feel like they were sinful for not wanting these marriages.  They found a bed in the church where the female children were “spiritually married” and then traumatized.

        Some of the young mothers went with their children to the place where the protective services placed the children.  Some of the other mothers did not.  However, some of them are saying that they are being denied access to their children.  They all have to be fearful and  anxious about what happens next.

         Foster care for this large of a number of children is going to be overwhelming to the foster care system.  The thing of it is…in my mind, the young mothers are also considered  to be of an age to be placed into foster care themselves, if the prosecutors deem that indeed they have been abused.   They are going to need counseling for years to come.   I don’t think that there is much doubt that they have been abused in all kinds of ways. The children and mothers will need lots of support. 

         This investigation is going to be huge.  It is going to take many hours and lots of investigative staff to wade through the evidence and organize it into some sort of legal presentation for the court system.  I worry about the children, who will almost certainly be placed into the foster care system, becoming more damaged from the long process.

         Living this type of different lifestyle is one thing; but, being thrust into another whole world is going to be even more traumatic.  They will be seperated from their mothers and siblings in some cases.  If this investigation and eventual prosecution of their fathers is not done in some sort of speedy fashion the “help” can cause additional, emotional damage.

        The news said that the investigators had an informant in the “religious compound” for four years gathering evidence.  Just think how much horror and abuse was done in that amount of time.  I understand that they had to get “enough” evidence to be able to prosecute without allowing charges to be dismissed for “lack of evidence”; but really, four years?  How many female children were raped and forced to produce children every 10 months or so?

       One  story was released that there was a young 16 year old girl who had given birth four times already.  That is horrible.  Surely, some of that had to have taken place during the informants time in the compound. 

       These child brides were the victims; they were often forced to marry middle-aged men who already had other wives as well.  I have heard some comments online from people holding these women just as accountable as the men who were in control of daily life.  I beg to differ.  I think when it comes down to it…these women were forced…they were brainwashed, and they were conditioned or raised up to believe that this was acceptable.  I think it is going to take the wisdom of Solomon to figure out legal accountability. 

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