Friday, March 11, 2011

Parental Rights, Human Rights, and Foster Care

When people abuse their animals and the police find out, they usually lose those animals for good.  They aren’t given a second, third, or 12th chance to take care of their pets.  With children it's different.  Children are removed from their abusive homes only to be given back to the people who abuse them.  The law states that biological parents have a right to their children but the legal rights of parents should never trump the human rights of their children.  Abusive parents should not be given chance after chance to be decent parents and human beings for their children.  CPS removed my siblings and me from our mother at least 12 times before she had her rights removed and was sent to prison for felony child abuse.  By the time her rights were removed and I became available for adoption I was 8 years old.  The chances of an 8 year old foster child being adopted are pretty small.  CPS waited until I was too old and too damaged to be loved by a family.  If they had kept me when I was an infant and adopted me out to someone that wanted a baby my life would be so different today.  The lives of my siblings would be so different today.  I’m not saying my life would have been perfect or easy.  I’ve never wanted a perfect or easy life.  I just wanted a family that loved me and a place to call home.  I just wanted to belong somewhere.  That’s all I ever wanted.  That’s all any foster child ever wants.  They just want to be safe and loved.

Parents should not have years to get their act together.  There should be a limited amount of time for parents to get their acts together and that time should start ticking the moment a child is removed from their care.  When the time runs out, so should their rights and their children should become adoptable.  They should not be allowed to abuse their children over and over before someone steps in and says that’s enough.  I don’t care what the law says, children deserve better.  Parents don’t deserve more than one chance to do the right thing.

If I were to beat an adult, starve them, and lock them in a closet for days I would be sent to prison and probably for a very long time.  If I were to do that to my child, my child would be removed from my care and I would probably be required to go to counseling and parenting classes if I wanted my child back.   I probably wouldn’t go to jail.  I know this because that is what happened with my mother repeatedly.  My mother only went to prison for child abuse after years of some pretty horrific abuse that I can’t really write about.   

In my opinion, an assault on a child should be considered far worse than an assault on an adult.  Children deserve the same rights and protections as adults.  They deserve to be protected from adults.   I know this sounds like common sense but this is not what is happening in our country today.  Parents are given years to do what they need to do for their children.  Those are precious years of the childhoods of those children.  The more time that passes the more damage that occurs to those children.  I wish my story was unusual.  I wish this wasn’t still happening to children today but it is.  This happens to children every single day.  Sometimes what is best for children is love and stability and not biology.  I wish being a parent was a privilege and not a right.  I wish people would pay attention to what is really happening to children in our country and the rest of the world 

Adults who have spent a year or more in foster care are two times more likely to have PTSD than war veterans.  They are also five times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.  That’s alarming.  I do not understand why this isn’t considered a national crisis.  I don’t know much about the care of veterans with PTSD, but I do know they at least have some resources.  Foster children have none.  Trust me, I have been searching.  Why don’t more people know about the horrifying statistics that foster children face when they grow up in the system and when they age out?  Why don’t more people care?  Even if people have no compassion or humanity for the plight of foster children they should at least care about the costs to society and their taxes.

Every child has the potential to be a healthy, happy, contributing member of the world.  Foster care makes reaching that potential nearly impossible.  Foster care produces traumatized, undereducated, lost, angry, and damaged adults and then leaves them to fend for themselves.  Read the statistics that foster children face here.  This comes with a price beyond the lives of the children.  This comes with a cost to society and tax payers so even if they don’t care about foster children they should care about what it costs the country and the world when their government abuses children and then abandons them for growing up.