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Foster Homes

Updated on January 25, 2013

Foster Home Abuse

Abuse of Law? Well, it happens everywhere whether we talk about developed, developing or third world countries. Legislators enact laws with some designated purpose which, unfortunately, gets defeated over a period of time. Very few victims finally get to reap the benefits of such legislation and most of the time it is the manipulative segment which gets to twist the provisions of law to their benefit. We saw this happening in case of Dowry Prohibition Act (India) enacted primarily to prevent crime against women but soon enough it opened flood gates for litigation filed on false and fabricated grounds. A direct consequence of such falsely framed cases was a significant change in the attitude (from sympathetic to ruthless and discourteous) of the investigating officers, authorized to handle cases in Crime Against Women (CAW) cells. The situation has deteriorated to an extent that even a genuine case is viewed with suspicion as it has become almost impossible, for the authorities, to sift wheat from the chaff.

Interestingly I found the same situation prevailing in United States in respect of Child Services / Protection Law. The legislators devised a concept of ‘Foster Homes’ for the minor kids who, for some unexpected reasons, get alienated from their biological parents / families and are taken in the state custody where they are temporarily placed in Foster Homes till some permanent solution is found for such children. The state authorities try to work out one of the three best suitable and possible options for the kids and those options are:

Foster Homes
Foster Homes

Need of having Foster Homes

 a) A child might be placed in temporary foster care with an intention of reuniting him with his biological family or other family which might be willing to adopt the kid and give him a suitable environment for living. It may include cases where children are handed over to their grandparents or other relatives temporarily or permanently as the situation demands.

b) A parent may voluntarily allow his / her child to be placed in foster care either for economic reasons, behavioral problems of the child for which he might need specialized care and treatment or due to the inability of the parent to raise the child on account of his own mental or physical disorders which includes drug addiction cases also. The child, in such a case, may temporarily be placed in foster care until the parent is capable of shouldering the responsibility.

c) The child may be removed from the custody of his natural guardian or caretaker for the reason of the child’s own safety and security. The state finds out a suitable foster home for such a child and gives some fixed monetary allowance to the foster parents for meeting the child’s needs. The amount varies from state to state.

Child abuse
Child abuse

Foster Homes—Homes for Shelter of Abuse?

We keep reading in newspapers, almost every day, about the hair-raising incidents of crime against foster children. As per records, about 50 children died in the foster care in Texas in 2005 which meant the death date of jumped from 25% to 60% from 2003 to 2005. In 2004, about 100 children were treated for poisoning, 63 children were reported as rape victims (including 4 year old twins) and even worse, 145 children were admitted in medical facilities as premature pregnancy cases. Based on a report tendered by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as of January 2008, more than 500,000 children are living in foster care across the country. As per the statistics laid out in the report, about 20,000 children attained the age of majority in 2008 and were supposed to leave the foster care system. This picture is even scarier. One can only imagine the kind of breed that exits out of this system – a system which does not offer any stability (psychological) to these children while they are a part of it and no security when they are out of it. Most of them find themselves literally on the roads having nowhere to go. No wonder the crime files have records of criminals who have, at some point of time in their lives, lived in foster homes. The worst occurs in cases where children keep shuttling between one foster home to the other. One can only imagine the trauma and psychological distress, they undergo while being tossed from one parent to the other without having a clue where they would end up finally. It’s not hard to understand how some of these children grow up into ‘suicidal bombs’ ready to destroy the first thing they come across; the pent up anger soon turns in to vindictiveness and burns everything around. I guess there would only be a few lucky ones who get a decent home to live in and loving parents who adopt them finally. Exceptions can never be a rule, though.

Foster Parents’ perspective

Over the years the need of fosters homes has considerably increased. I guess the demand of such homes is directly proportional to the increase in crimes and the prisons getting flooded with criminals (small and big time). Why? Simply, because someone needs to take care of the children of those people who are serving punishment or just awaiting trial. (Here, I’m not including the cases where parents die due to some fatal disease or an accident) Recently I came across an article on the internet which seemed to have been written by a foster parent. The woman expressed her annoyance towards the social services department which sent representatives to her house, unannounced, once every week. She felt that the foster parents’ are subjected to undue inconvenience as they have to make themselves available 24/7 and cannot ask the department to give them a prior notice.

Aggressive foster kids
Aggressive foster kids

Quoting her:

“After all I too need some rest. With 3 of my own kids and 2 foster children, I get drained out physically and want to take some rest during daytime by putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign board outside the door. It seems I can never be that lucky. We are supposed to be ‘super parents’. Why can’t we be normal parents even to our foster kids? I mean, are we supposed to keep them dressed up all the time? Sometimes they would also love to loiter in their pajamas for the whole day? Why do the social workers make such a big deal out of it? The department does not seem to understand that some kids come with such grave psychological problems that it’s almost impossible to deal with them. I had such issues with one kid. He would deliberately try to drive me nuts. All he loved to do was to disobey me and do the opposite of what I asked him to do. I almost felt like blowing off my top but then I had to set an example for the other kids too.”

I understood her point of view too but then it wasn’t hard to give some leverage to those social workers also who try their best to ensure the well being of such kids. A dilemma indeed! The whole situation makes me wonder if there can be a via media. Can we balance it out somehow? Will it make the situation any better if there are more adoptive parents rather than foster parents? I invite a healthy discussion here. Who knows we might be able to make some amendments in law….if we join forces.

Foster Parent misguiding her foster child

Foster Home - A viable option ?

Cast your vote for Foster Home - A viable option ?


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    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from New York

      James A Watkins: 'There are drawbacks....' You rightly stated. No one can substitute biological parents (excluding the abusive ones). A child would rarely get a kind of security and stability in foster home which he can get in his own home. I hope the law makers understand the gravity of the situation and come out with better options. After all it's the question of millions of children across the country. Thank you very much for reading this hub and expressing your views here. I appreciate.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      This is a very thought provoking article. I am stumped how to fix this problem, but you articulated the issue well. Complicated; no easy answers. It seems there are drawbacks no matter which way we go. I will ponder this more as a result of your work here. Thanks!

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from New York

      Hi Pam! This is certainly not an easy subject to talk about. It definitely has to do something with the culture, family system and the economic conditions in the West. There is no easy way out. One thing is, however, crystal clear....foster homes do more harm than good. Sooner the authorities realize this, the faster they might me able to provide basic subsistence to the families so that the parents are not forced in to a situation where they have to give up on their children and the kids don't face the trauma of living with strangers and going by their rules and lifestyle. Poor economic conditions trigger off crime rate; I feel if everyone is well fed, crime rate would go down and then at least kids would not suffer the separation from the parents who are compelled by their circumstances to go against the Law and serve in the jail. Drug addiction is yet another issue here which has to be dealt with; it corrodes the roots of the society. The results can be far reaching beyond imagination. It is one of the main reasons why kids are taken away from their biological parents and handed over to foster parents only to suffer more. Thx very much for your incredible insight. Your words are always precious to me.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      This is a very difficult subject. In the industrial midwest, where I grew up and where I still live, there are far more abused kids than there are foster homes to place them in, and sadly, as you point out, many of the foster homes are as bad as the homes the kids are rescued from. My own parents were very young and had serious problems. They were not ready to raise children but suddenly they had four. I vividly remember the large number of abused kids at my junior high and how aware everyone was of the need to avoid foster care, as bad as the original home might be.

      I went through a time in my life when, in the course of coming to terms with that upbringing, I felt the need to talk about it a lot. I was in therapy but I also needed to talk. I wish I hadn't but I think it was just part of healing. During that time the most common response I got (from non-therapists) was, "Why didn't you call the police on your parents? Why didn't you run away?" These questions show an ignorance of the realities of the lives of poor children and their parents--It's an almost willful ignorance that still can get me riled up. But in all honesty, I have no easy answer myself. Until our culture puts its money where its mouth is and provides the services and help that poor parents and their children need to address these issues in the best way, family by family, we will have this.

      Excellent hub. There is no single easy answer to the question you raise, but that doesn't mean that opening a discussion isn't worthwhile. It definitely is worthwhile. It's just very difficult. People like 'easy', they don't want to talk about difficult subjects. They get uncomfortable and withdraw or blame. Thank you.

    • anjalichugh profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from New York

      Kushal Poddar: Thx for reading this hub and liking it too, :)

      Iounn: There's a lot of substance in what you said. If this money factor is taken out of this arrangement, then I believe only those parents will come forward (to take care of kids) who love children, Another valid point was helping economically weaker sections to help them raising their children. Certainly it would solve the problem to some extent but what about those kids who get alienated not for financial but for other reasons (mentioned in the hub). Thx very much for some great insight.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      good hub. the thing about foster homes is that in the U.S. it tends to equate to greed. it would be lovely to think all people fostered because they loved children, but it's not true. people foster for payments of like $1k a month, varying by state and agency, and abuse and neglect tends to occur in foster homes, more often than not. we have to take the profit motive out of fostering and I suspect we'd have less of this trouble.

      often poverty is the direct cause for children being sent to foster homes. we have no bottom substinance living for people to keep their children, yet we will pay some stranger a thousand dollars to do what the mother isn't helped with.

    • Kushal Poddar profile image

      Kushal Poddar 

      9 years ago from Kolkata,India

      Very relevant and well thought


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