This short film sheds light on the style of life some 400,000 children in America live. When parents are reported for child abuse or are arrested their children are then taken as wards of the state. The children are then placed in temporary foster homes until their parents either clean up their act or have their children taken away permanently.
After the children are taken from their parents they are each given a social worker. The social worker oversees the child’s case while their parents are on trial. The social worker helps decide whether the child is returned to their parents or put up for adoption, trying to ensure the best decision is made for the child. Meanwhile the social worker ensures the child has a foster family to stay with. The social worker checks up on the child periodically and ensures they’re doing well.
A foster home is a family that volunteers to temporarily take care of a child while their case is being debated or waiting to be adopted. The family is vetted, required to attend a week long seminar, and then certified. A social worker, followed by a child with a black trash bag at the front door commonly marks the coming of a new foster child. The first few days are often the hardest, filled with screaming or deafening silence from the child. If the foster family gets fed up with the kid, the child is picked up by their social worker and taken to the next foster home.
Children going through the foster care system are emotionally scarred. Separated from their home, parents, and sometimes their siblings; basic ideas about how life works are skewed, the very fabric of their reality torn. Not knowing how to cope with all the emotion they become unpredictable. All it takes is one familiar smell, one sound, one word for all their emotion to come boiling over.
Foster care is a chaotic system of emotion, children, foster homes, social workers, and birth parents. Awareness and understanding are the first steps to start helping those who are or have been in foster care. If you would like to take it a step further, you can search for an foster care or adoption agency in your area here.
This article is written based on:
- My personal experience with Tennessee’s foster care system (Department of Children’s Services) while fostering my two younger brothers and then adopting them over the course of four years.
- Conversations with friends who are currently or have been through various state-run foster care systems.
- The sources listed below
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Trends in Foster Care and Adoption
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Recent Demographic Trends in Foster Care
- Tennessee Department of Children’s Services – Home Page
- Tennessee Department of Children’s Services – FY 14 Budget Presentation
- Tennessee Department of Children’s Services – The Adoption Process
- Tennessee Department of Children’s Services – Meet the Kids