The recent problems that we have witnessed as children have been separated from their families at the border has rightfully stirred up anger and inspired people to step up to create change. Change is happening because of it. And more change needs to be made.
Some of my initial thoughts, that sparked what you’re about to read, and then brought in a tidal wave of comments, messages, stories, and conversation were this:
“How can we protect children at the border when we can not protect children within the border? There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care. The majority will never be adopted, will never receive permanency, will live with untreated trauma, experience failure to thrive, have attachment disorders and be moved from placement to placement literally being ripped from loving arms… all because of policies that we have allowed to destroy children for decades.“
Today, we join with you for #childwelfareawareness.
Today is a day that we make noise for Child Welfare. A very important beginning to change broken systems throughout the nation. By sharing YOUR stories, we hope to accomplish 3 things:
1- Raise Awareness for the need to Advocate for Children in the Welfare System by teaming up with YOU to wear pink and blast social media with #childwelfareawareness posts. At the end of this post are images you can save to upload to FB, Instagram, Twitter… anywhere. Your voice can make a huge impact. For example, here’s something you can save and share:
2- Give you places where you can go to make an impact and read more real life stories and statistics about what children in the system endure every day:
3- Use our collective power to specifically donate to an organization called National Angels
Many people within the child welfare community feel unheard and alone. It’s important that changes by talking about what they are going through, giving them a voice, and standing WITH them to fight for our children. I want to share with you a few stories that people from our Shine Project community sent me. I have been sent hundreds of stories, and read every single one. The below stories are a good representation of the types of situations that people and children go through while in the Child Welfare System.
The stories are heavy, and they happen to really people, and real children, every single day. Once we know what is going on right in our own cities, we are then called to step up and say, “This is not okay… Not on My Watch”
From A Former Foster Care Child
“I was put into the foster care system at a very young age. I was adopted by a lady who verbally, emotionally, and physically abused me and brother for years, until our mental illnesses and our hearts couldn’t take it. I was put back into the foster care system at 17 and my social worker showed little to none compassion. She didn’t take my schooling or therapy seriously and it was hard for me. I had to switch schools in the middle if my senior year, had no friends, was separated from my brother for a year, and didn’t think my dream of going to college would happen. I kept looking for people to blame and something to be angry about, but if it wasn’t for strangers and people like you who show love and compassion and grace, I have no idea where I’d be. I stay positive for my brother and for any other child in the foster care system. They put you in families that they don’t properly do background checks on and rip you away from families that actually love you. I will never understand it, but I will always fight for happiness and the happiness of children. Having to navigate college on my own has been stressful, but I’m proud of myself for sticking through it.”
From an Elementary School Teacher:
” During student teaching a few years ago, one of my six year old students bit one of his classmates. The biter (I will call him a fake name, John, for clarity) struggles with impulse control. John bit the student on a Tuesday.
On Friday, the students were having inside recess when I noticed him showing something to his friends under his shirt. When I came over to see, John had a horrific bite mark in his shoulder. I could even see where two front teeth had dragged through his skin.
Being six, I don’t think he knew anything was off. He told me Mom had bitten him to teach him a lesson about biting his classmate. He said she sat him down in a chair and bit him. I was horrified, but were taught not to show emotion when we react because it could cause the child to stop talking to us.
I walked John down to the nurse. He told that his mom said part of his punishment was not getting a bandaid or medicine for the bite wound. I sobbed after I dropped him off. The nurse helped me file the report since I was just a student teacher.
Now it’s important to note that John was adopted, and had one foster sibling at the time of this incident.
CPS came to our school to take pictures and speak to John. When it was time for me to leave, he wasn’t back yet. I worried and cried all weekend about his safety. I was so scared that I had possibly made things worse for him.
On Monday, not only did John return to school. He told me that they’d received a NEW FOSTER CHILD over the weekend. I was shocked.
A foster caregiver gets CPS called because she dragged her teeth through her child’s skin, and she receives another foster child that same weekend?
I see some truly heart breaking things as a teacher. Most of which I am not permitted to speak about due to privacy laws.”
From an Adoptive/Foster Mom and Advocate
“My friend has had a now 12 year old foster girl for 4 years now. She is high needs behaviorally. This child is now thriving in her home with my friend. When they received her at the age of 9 she weighed 39 pounds and experienced true trauma. Now she is growing and has doubled her weight (huge). The child was finally up for adoption. The state does this thing called a best interest staffing which everyone gets together and decides who the child would get adopted by. Obviously, my friend thought it was a no brainer that she would adopt. The state came in 2 weeks before adoption and pulled her to let her be adopted by a complete stranger for absolutely no reason. It’s gut wrenching what they can get away with. She is fighting it now but it has been a long hard agonizing battle.”
From A Foster Mom