The Kirkwood Call

Filed under Features

Issues: being a foster child in America

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






There are 437,465 children in foster care in the United States.

Of these children, 36 percent are over the age of 10, according to the Administration for Children and Families, and children over the age of 10 are 50 percent less likely to get adopted based on a study done by Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri. According to Jennifer Beavers, a licensed clinical social worker in St. Louis, older children in foster care have a significant disadvantage due to the increased amount of emotional trauma they have experienced.

“For kids who are born into their birth families, [it’s like] their birth mom is standing on one side of a frozen lake,” Beavers said. “That birth mom says, ‘Come, we want to love you,’ and that kid starts walking out on the ice and the ice breaks out from underneath them. They struggle to get back up. Then the first foster parent says, ‘We love you. We will take care of you forever.’ That child is a little more guarded, but eventually steps out on the ice and the ice breaks. After six or seven or twelve or fifteen times of the ice breaking, it’s learned. You don’t do it. Our older kids have stepped out on that ice so many times that establishing trust and love is very difficult.”

 

Bridget Killian

 

 

According to the Administration for Children and Families, 61 percent of child removal was due to neglect from the birth parents. Geri Brotherton, a licensed foster mother in St. Louis, said in recent years, people are more aware of the effects that neglect and trauma have on people, especially children. She said many foster children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“The younger the child experiences [the] trauma, the harder it is for them to overcome it,” Brotherton said. “These are kids who come from a lot of domestic violence, abuse and neglect. Neglect is when the kids are nobodies.”

Adding to the emotional trauma of being a child in foster care, many people are involved in the lives of these children. According to Beavers, foster children typically put up walls to protect them from rejection and having to navigate many foster homes at a young age.

“I use the analogy of a kid who has been in foster care for a long time, especially an older kid, as someone standing on a rug,” Beavers said. “There is the court, the birth parents, the foster parents, the school and the community all tugging on the rug. The child is on the rug trying to stand up and doing whatever it takes just to survive in that moment.”

Fostering is a difficult task that requires up to nine weeks of training and support from others, according to Brotherton. Training classes, support groups and even Facebook pages aid foster families caring for children who have experienced emotional trauma from abuse and neglect.

I am an advocate of foster care. I think it is extremely important that people who feel like they can do it do. I think everyone can help but not everyone can be a foster parent. A lot of people think, ‘Oh those kids just need some love and they’ll be fine,’ but it’s not that simple.”

— Geri Brotherton

“I am an advocate of foster care,” Brotherton said. “I think it is extremely important that people who feel like they can do it do. I think everyone can help but not everyone can be a foster parent. A lot of people think, ‘Oh those kids just need some love and they’ll be fine,’ but it’s not that simple.”

In addition to foster parents, support for the children themselves is important according to Theresa Williams, former foster parent in St. Louis. Support of the older foster children is something that, according to Williams, would help these people with their futures. She said that the foster care system should have more homes available for the high school aged kids.

“We really need more families that would be open to [foster children]  in their last couple years of high school and help figure out college if that is something they want to do,” Williams said.  “People think that older kids are tougher and have more behavioral issues. What I’ve learned in my years as a foster parent is that if you don’t focus on the behavior as much as you focus on the fear or something that is driving that behavior. If you can understand what that is then there is no behavioral issue.”

What is being done:

Organisations such as Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition have created programs to aid older children in the foster care system. These programs teach them life skills and help them transition from foster care to independent living. With the help of these programs, those who age out of the foster system are able to create a stable life for themselves as newly independent adults.

About the Contributor
Bridget Killian, editor-in-chief

Interests: dance, ukulele playing, painting and music
Favorite food: mangoes
Favorite quote: “wwwwwhHATTSS UP SQUAD" -Jack Rintoul
If you had to...

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Tell me amour and amor about love

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Taking the long shot

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    “Sectored off”: Meacham Park

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    LifeBridge Partnership

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Music to my ears

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Policing the minority with the majority

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Voices of Kirkwood: December ACT edition

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Four neediest cases

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Issues: the inequality of wealth

  • Issues: being a foster child in America

    Features

    Teacher music Q&A: Adam Rowland

Navigate Right
Kirkwood High School student newspaper
Issues: being a foster child in America