Friday, July 8, 2011

The loneliest children in the world

The Loneliest Whale in the World.  By Eric Bowley
In 2004, The New York Times wrote an article about the loneliest whale in the world. Scientists have been tracking her since 1992 and they discovered the problem:
The Loneliest Whale in the World.
In 2004, The New York Times wrote an article about the loneliest whale in the world. Scientists have been tracking her since 1992 and they discovered the problem:
She isn’t like any other baleen whale. Unlike all other whales, she doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t have a family. She doesn’t belong to any tribe, pack or gang. She doesn’t have a lover. She never had one. Her songs come in groups of two to six calls, lasting for five to six seconds each. But her voice is unlike any other baleen whale. It is unique—while the rest of her kind communicate between 12 and 25hz, she sings at 52hz. You see, that’s precisely the problem. No other whales can hear her. Every one of her desperate calls to communicate remains unanswered. Each cry ignored. And, with every lonely song, she becomes sadder and more frustrated, her notes going deeper in despair as the years go by.
Just imagine that massive mammal, floating alone and singing—too big to connect with any of the beings it passes, feeling paradoxically small in the vast stretches of empty, open ocean. She isn’t like any other baleen whale. Unlike all other whales, she doesn’t have friends. She doesn’t have a family. She doesn’t belong to any tribe, pack or gang. She doesn’t have a lover. She never had one. Her songs come in groups of two to six calls, lasting for five to six seconds each. But her voice is unlike any other baleen whale. It is unique—while the rest of her kind communicate between 12 and 25hz, she sings at 52hz. You see, that’s precisely the problem. No other whales can hear her. Every one of her desperate calls to communicate remains unanswered. Each cry ignored. And, with every lonely song, she becomes sadder and more frustrated, her notes going deeper in despair as the years go by.
Just imagine that massive mammal, floating alone and singing—too big to connect with any of the beings it passes, feeling paradoxically small in the vast stretches of empty, open ocean.

I came across a story of a whale who can't be with other whales.  The other whales can't understand her.  She doesn't speak their language.  She doesn't know how to be with other whales.  I want so badly to find this whale and save her.  I understand her.  I know her.  I am her.  Well a slightly smaller human version of her anyway.  I am this sad baleen whale who doesn't have a family or a tribe.  I am this sad baleen whale that cannot speak the same language as everyone else so I'm easily left behind and forgotten.  She's invisible to other whales.  I feel like I've always been invisible to families.  And there are thousands more out there just like me.  Thousands of lonely wandering souls dying for love and family but they remain invisible to the rest of the world.  Lets be honest, older foster children and former foster children ARE invisible to families and the rest of the world.  When you see ads for future foster parents, they usually have pictures of babies or young children on them.  You rarely see them with pictures of kids over 8 much less with teenagers. 
No one wants to know the truth about children in foster care right here in the US.  No one wants to know that American children are being abused, neglected, starved, raped, murdered, rejected over and over.  That only happens in third world countries, right?  WRONG.  It happens to American children too.  No one wants to think about 18 year old kids being thrown out of foster care without a family or any kind of support.  They'd rather blame the poor and the homeless people for being lazy or the criminals for being bad people, or the mentally ill for being crazy.  No one wants to think about where those people have come from or why they are living they way they are.  No one wants to think about the fact that many of them are former foster children who never had a chance in life.  No one wants to think about how many foster children are actually "lost" in the system, meaning no one knows where they are.  No one wants to think about how many remain lost after the system.  No one wants to think about how many foster children die in the system.  No one wants to think that some foster parents can be extremely abusive, neglectful, drug addicts, alcoholics, pedophiles.  No one wants to think about that fact that some foster parents ARE only in it for the money.  No one wants to think about how adoptive and foster parents can get rid of their children so easily.  Adoptive parents can "disrupt" their adoptions because they are tired of being parents to that child.  They'd rather blame the child than the parents that threw them away.  They'd rather "re-home" the child like you re-home a difficult dog than find a way to help their child.  You can't throw away your bio child no matter how difficult or troubled they are, so why is it different with children adopted from foster care?  No one wants to know that a child can be bounced around 42 times in 18 years in foster care.  No one wants to know that foster children are thrown away over and over again.

And then when foster children reach that magical adult age of 18 they are "set free" without any kind of support system or knowledge on how to manage life.  No one taught me how to manage money.  No one taught me how to deal with legal documents like leases.  No one taught me how to find money for college.  No one taught me how to shop for food.  No one taught me how to pay bills.  No one taught me how to keep myself safe from bad people.  No one taught me how to juggle school, social life, and a job.  No one taught me how to be responsible.  No one taught me how to buy a car.  No one taught me how to find resources for myself.  No one taught me how to make friends.  No one taught me self respect.  No one taught me that I'm a good person.  No one taught me how to handle Christmas when the dorms shut down and everyone goes away leaving me in a very dark quiet building all by myself or living in my car if the building wouldn't let me stay.  I would roam the streets at night looking at all the pretty lights and families celebrating together through windows.  No one taught me how to handle parents weekend at college or all the questions about my parents and where I grew up.  No one taught me how to survive being unlovable and invisible to the rest of the world.  No one taught me how to survive the emptiness that consumes you after foster care.  No one taught me how to deal with the constant rejection I lived with as a child, or the constant rejection I'd live with as an adult.  No one taught me how to be with people.  No one taught me how to attach.  No one taught me how to be happy.  No one taught me how to survive.  No one taught me how to feel and manage my gigantic feelings.  No one taught me how not to hate myself.  No taught me how to find love and family.  No one taught me how to cope with life.

I think the people who send me angry emails and leave not so nice comments are some of those people who would rather just pretend that I am a horrible storyteller...  That people like me don't exist and that foster care is a magical healing place that saves children from horrible people.  People do not want to know what happens to American foster children because then they will feel guilty and no one wants to feel guilty.  It's easier if you just pretend it doesn't exist then you don't have do anything about it.  It's easier if you just pretend WE don't exist. But we do exist.  Foster care is creating thousands of scared, damaged, angry, lonely souls who can't speak the same language as the rest of the world so we end up drifting around searching for love and family.  We end up searching for "home" for the rest of our lives and never finding it.  No one will ever see us because we will forever remain invisible unless people choose to notice and change what the government is doing to it's most vulnerable children.  The statistics for former foster children are bleak, but they are not just crazy, lazy, homeless, drug addicts, and criminals.  They are products of the American foster care system.  They are scared, sad, lonely, damaged people.  They are products of YOUR government and your tax dollars.  So stop allowing us to be invisible.  Open your eyes and really SEE what's happening to children in your country.