Thursday, July 21, 2011


In response to When Hope Dies, Chicago asked the following question:

FosterAbba, I have a question that I have been hesitating in asking because I don't know how it will be received.

I read your blog and others and it seems like there is this little-known secret about adoption. Some of the blogs I read are from happy "easy" adoptions, some from ones like your's but the parents still feel some hopefullness. And then I read several where the parents are in similar positions to you.

I am a total outsider, neither foster child nor parent. I had at one time considered adopting but I have changed my mind due to serious health issues I have.

So here is The Question I have been holding back. Do you,and other parents in your position, feel scammed? It sounds horrid to say that, since children are not 'things' and there are no guarantees even with bio-kids.

But is seems there is something terrible happening here, and everyone suffers for it. The children do not really find homes, and no one is better off for the adoption.

I am dating myself here, I know, but this seems to me another glaring example of how Reagan got it wrong, all those years ago. By closing state facilities, there is nowhere for these kids (who quickly become young adults) to go, where they can live safely.

My heart truly goes out to you and your family, and all the others whose lives have been torn apart by this. If I were you, I would be furious. I would feel scammed.

As it is, I am angry that good, decent, people are being treated like this, misled and essentially ignored at every turn.

I have learned so much and appreciate you (and others) putting it out there for clueless people like myself, who assumed that adoptions were handled so, so differently than they are.

Chicago asks a very valid question here.

Since I don't really know what other adoptive parents think or feel, I don't feel that I can answer this question on behalf of anyone else but myself.  So rather than answer the question for everyone, I will just answer whether or not my family feels scammed.

There are two parts to this question.  The first is whether or not we feel scammed because our agency somehow misrepresented Danielle's challenges to us.  Although this is certainly true for some adoptive parents, I don't think that it was the case here.  I think the reality was that people really didn't know all there was to know about Danielle's case, though it was clear certain things were kept from us with respect to her biological family's history.  If we had known more about Danielle's biological family, would it have made a difference in our decision to adopt?

I'm not sure that it would have.

When we adopted our child, we knew that we were facing some pretty significant problems.  We knew that she was profoundly behind in school, and we knew (based on her previous behavior) that she was a challenging kid to parent.  What we didn't know, and I'm not sure anyone could have predicted, was how bad things would eventually get.  I don't think that anyone could have predicted the level of violence that we would one day see in our home.

So on that score, I can't say that we were scammed by the county.  Our friends Jack and Jill, who also adopted two children from our county, probably were.  Their youngest child has severe problems, and the root cause (prenatal drug and alcohol exposure) was deliberately concealed from them.  I've never had the chance to ask if my friends feel scammed on this count, but if I were in their shoes, I certainly would feel that way.

The second part is whether or not we feel scammed when it comes to promised post-adoptive services. In that area, I am not sure that I would go so far as to use such a strong word as scammed, but certainly mislead and disappointed apply.  We adopted, thinking that appropriate mental health and supportive services would be offered on an ongoing basis.  What we found was that our county has done everything they can to ignore us, make excuses, and fail to pay for mental health services that were promised by our adoption worker.

I think Chicago is also quite correct in saying that something terrible is happening, and everyone suffers for it.  Kids suffer, because they don't get the services they need, parents suffer, and siblings suffer.  First families suffer too.  The entire system doesn't ameliorate suffering; rather, it increases it.

While families and children suffer, millions of dollars are used to perpetuate a system that doesn't prevent abuse, fails to treat victims, and doesn't help the children and families who suffer as a result.  The system claims to be operating in "the best interests" of the children.  Instead, I see a system that operates very much in the best interests of itself.

Although I think Reagan had the right idea in freeing mentally ill people from hospitals if they could be treated in the community, I think the plan was taken too far.  There were some people who could manage in the community with the appropriate supports.  Unfortunately (and this is largely to blame for the huge upswing in the mentally ill homeless in our area) some people cannot or will not do well when they aren't in a structured, hospital setting.

At the time, it seemed freeing all these poor people, especially those being held against their will, from the mental hospitals was a good idea.  The problem with it was that they decided that everybody could be treated on an outpatient basis.  As a result, families with seriously mentally ill members had nowhere to turn.

I get tired of hearing from everyone that comes in contact with our family the phrase, "there is nothing we can do."  The police can't do anything when children are violent, because there isn't enough room for the kids already incarcerated in juvenile hall.  The mental health professionals can't do anything because there is no money in the state budget to pay for treatment and our child isn't sick enough to qualify for residential treatment.  The school says there is nothing they can do, because our child's most violent behaviors are confined to the home environment.  Even the crisis people admit they are powerless to provide any meaningful help, because they are limited to a handful of visits.

So although I don't feel scammed per se, I do feel as though the amount of post-adoption support we were going to receive was grossly misrepresented.


  1. I prefer the phrase: Child Welfare Fraud. There is fraud in child welfare, everywhere you look.

    The system takes advantage of peoples ignorance. They routinely violate the rights of parents because most parents don't understand their rights.

    They violate due process, they violate the 1st, 4th and 14th amendments of the constitution regularly, the lawyers drag the cases out and make a killing, people are sucked dry from legal expenses and services, there have been judges busted for receiving kickbacks when placing children in institutional settings. Workers fabricate evidence and forge documents. They appoint public defenders who are friendly to the state, so the cards are stacked against the parents from the beginning. You have organizations like CASA who are supposed to be there for what's best for the child when most of them are total puppets and stooges for the agencies.

    Oh sure there is a ton of self serving hype around how great they are, but do they live up to it?

    Foster parents get screwed too. There have been cases where the kids placed in their care have had histories of sexual abuse and sexually acting out, and all of that information withheld, then the kid ends up raping another child in the home. Foster parents are promised they will be able to adopt when the workers are planning to give the kids back to the parents. There are cases where they provide reunification services with no intention of giving the kids back.

    I've been reading some of the blogs of the newbies, and they're all gonna love all of these kids problems away. You read all about these wonderful social workers who are going to bring them the child of their dreams. They're all gonna change the world. Then reality hits. They get accused of something, and are suddenly treated like a real parent.

    The kids in foster care are given medicaid, and given meds that they don't need, the state is billed for services that aren't necessary or provided. Often they deny services that they do need. They make tons of promises that they don't follow through on, fill the kids heads with dreams of forever homes.

    I suppose you can think that it's a well intentioned but misguided system. But you do gotta wonder, since government spends hundreds of billions on child welfare every year. Where does all that money go?


  2. Got to love your tag on the comments section - suspect that some of my 'best friends' in the evil comment section are probably hitting you too. At least we are in good company. :) Just linked over from my blog when I saw the traffic originating here - blessings in the journey - the good the bad and the ugly...hummm...maybe thats the name of my next blog.


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