Thursday, October 27, 2011

DNA, Foster Care and the Potential for Lawsuits

The Adoption Counselor wrote an interesting post where she shared that researchers are starting to determine that early life experiences can alter a person's DNA.  She also reported that child protective services in her area ended up having to pay up a whopping $6 million (CDN) to a set of siblings who sued because they weren't removed soon enough from their birth families.

If DNA can be altered, and kids can successfully sue, will it be possible for the descendents of children who were not protected by the child welfare system be able to sue for damages?  She believes it may be so, and that adults who were failed by the system should step forward and demand compensation.

In her post she went on to write:

The point, which I am finally getting to, is that child protection services are going to have to start thinking ahead – not something they have traditionally done in any area – because there may be no limit on when they will be held accountable for whom they protect, or don’t protect, today. That will ultimately impact adoption because now – the impact of creating child protection policies based on fiscal restraint means that by the time any child is removed from parental care there is significant harm and, therefore, by the time the child reaches an adoptive home – his or her needs are huge and often overwhelming for the adoptive family.

"His or her needs are huge and often overwhelming for the adoptive family."

This is so damn true.  It's an unfortunate reality that many adoptive families find their children are so damaged by the time they taken into foster care and legally freed for adoption, that they require expensive treatment and interventions.  Worse, many of those treatments don't work, in that they can't really solve or fix anything.  Children injured by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, for example, will never be what they would have been if their mother's hadn't been drinking.

I agree with The Adoption Counselor, but I don't think she goes quite far enough in her call to action.  Not only should children damaged by the foster care system sue, birth, foster and adoptive parents should sue as well.  If enough people started litigating, the child welfare system would have to change.  If the cost of lawsuits started to outpace the "savings" created by the financial austerity measures so many states and counties employ, perhaps the system would change for the good.

Or perhaps it won't.

But at least those who have been damaged by such an inefficient, broken system might receive at least some compensation for how their lives should have been...

1 comment:

  1. Ok, on one hand I agree because I think someone needs to be held accountable for the damage done to these kids. There have been many times that unkind thoughts towards the birth parents of some of my kids have gone thru my mind - many, many times. Mainly when my little darling is screaming and raging and threatening me with cps allegations because they can't have the cereal they want or they're refusing to do chores - all thanks to prenatal drug and alcohol abuse. I think, "I am HERE, dealing with this crap while they're off living their lives. I am being stressed to death by these kids and their behaviors and when they turn 18 and leave, I will be left with the destruction and damage to my home, my relationships, my LIFE and they'll go find these people that made them the way they are - and they will love THEM and villify ME for being there". Not pretty things to think about.

    Here's where it would be impossible - if we are going to hold the possibility of a lawsuit over the heads of workers (cps, foster care, mandated reporters, etc) then those people - who already have too much power imho and who do not have accountability for destroying families who are not actually abusing their children, will have even more power and even less accountability -and that can't happen. Can't you just see it? I can and while the fact that these bio parents never seem to just have and lose one or two kids (think a half dozen or more) before they're "done" procreating, there should be a way instead of making these bio parents financially responsible for their kids needs for the rest of their lives. Sure, some would choose to never work again, but every single government check they receive could be docked and every tax return or earned income credit or whatever would be garnished forever. There has to be some accountability somewhere.


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