This picture of a crying child reminds me of all the children languishing in the foster care systems of the United States. All they want is love and security.
I finished taking all the classes the State of Utah required. I learned all about the issues these kids supposedly have. I don’t recall if there were any concrete ideas to help the kids adjust to a new environment.
One of the major issues when a child was placed was the lack of information about the child other than age, sex and the barest minimum of issues. This is still happening in systems all over the USA today. New placements have to guess what’s happened previously in the child’s life and try to help them.
My FC story began when a child welfare worker brought Sharon to my house one afternoon. She was a pretty blonde about 15 years old. The worker didn’t give me much information on her, only that she had been removed from her parents’ home.
It didn’t take long for me to find out what Sharon’s issues were. She wanted to be free of all adults. She was with me for about three weeks and in that time ran away twice. The last time when she took off she helped herself to some clothes of mine.
When I reported Sharon missing, the caseworker said she did that all the time. There was no need to worry, she’d turn up at her parents’ home in a few days and they’d get her back. I told the case worker that I did not want her back. She said that’s okay and she’d let other workers know my home was available again.
Next, in came Susan. She was 16 years old and quite a beautiful young woman. We hit it off immediately. Susan was in the foster care system because she was a run away from her biological home and from the home of a single foster parent whose restrictive requirements angered her.
Susan’s story is a sad one. Her parents took in foster care children all the while her biological father was sexually abusing Susan and her younger sister.
When Susan was 14, she was hired at a nursing home as a housekeeper. She saved all the money she earned and with her mother’s consent bought herself a truck with a camper shell on it.
Susan saved up some more funds and when no one was paying attention, she loaded up the truck and headed for California. Of course, the police brought her back.
She told the case worker what was happening in her home and that she thought her father was abusing the foster girls in the home as well. Which, by the way, was later proven to be true. Susan was then placed with the strict single parent and she ran away again.
When she came to live with me, Susan was angry and hurt by the people in power. Her father should have been arrested and charged, but instead the State workers demanded that Susan attend family counseling with her parents in order for her to be reunited with them.
When I questioned the justification of this torture, I was told to butt out; my job was to provide their client, Susan, with a place to live, period; nothing else. I accompanied her to her first family counseling session and had to wait in my car and pass the time reading a book.
While I waited outside, her father jumped her and had her down on the floor banging her head continuously while two female case workers watched; finally a male worker came in and pulled the father off of her.
I was called in to take her home, instead I took her to the hospital which confirmed my suspicions that she had a mild concussion. I called her case worker and said they’d better do something to this man; the worker agreed, but the only thing that happened was that Susan did not have to have anything more to do with her parents.
Susan settled in with me and my roommate at the time. Georgianna was a friend of my sister’s whose home had burned down and needed a place to stay while it was being rebuilt. I had an extra bedroom at the time and she lived with me for about 5 months. The three of us had some good times together.
After Georgianna left, Kara, my daughter from India was finally cleared to travel to Utah. She arrived on June 13, 1980 “a Friday the 13th.” She wanted nothing to do with me. She connected with Susan and that bothered Susan.
When Susan was ready for independent living, her social worker and I helped her move into an apartment. I supplied her with some dishes and cooking pots. She hugged me and thanked me for everything I helped her with.
As the worker and I were getting ready to leave, Susan said something that brought tears to my eyes. She said “When I first came I was planning to run away until you told me that I should let you be the adult and I should be the child. You said you’d take care of me and you did.”
It still makes me feel good, even now 40 years later. She was a wonderful young woman.
Thanks for reading.