by Jill Rippy
20 Nov 2015
Our world is in crisis. On one side of the recent news, Americans are screaming that there is a lack of compassion because many states in the United States are unwilling to take in refugees. On the other side we have people who are screaming that we need to make sure that we are taking refugees in safely or not at all. People are screaming, screaming, screaming on both sides.
What both sides are failing to see is that this crisis goes much deeper than the refugees. As a foster mother, I find that I am receiving more phone calls on a weekly basis than I have in years past. The American child welfare system is in an absolute crisis. Those on the outside may not see it clearly, but foster families do. Reading an occasional news story might make your heart ache for a minute, but that ache subsides as soon as the newspaper closes or the second you click out of that social media story.
What the average American doesn’t realize is there are an estimated 400,000 children currently in our child welfare system. Half of those kids will be returned to their families. The other half will not. They are on pre-adoptive lists, living in long term foster care or they have filled residential facilities and group homes. Many of those who have found a foster home are in overcrowded conditions with overburdened and stressed foster parents. Many of those who are in relative care or who are returned to their parents will return to foster care in the future.
So let’s take a look at logistics and numbers for just a minute. In order to take in 75,000 refugee children, we need somewhere between 20,000-75,000 new foster homes in America. While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and aim low and say that 100,000 current American children are without a home in the child welfare system alone (we haven’t even touched on homelessness in general). So we’re going to need between 25,000-100,000 new foster homes in America just to house American children. We need to pull 45,000-175,000 new foster families out of thin air in order to accommodate this overall crisis.
Who are these 100,000 American foster children who are displaced and still without a home? They are teen girls that no one will take because they have been demonized in Hollywood films. They are drug addicted babies that no one will take because they are frightened to see a drug addicted baby detox. They are sibling groups that will eventually be split up because who is willing to foster 6 siblings? They are boys who have been sexually abused by the men in their lives, yet no one will take them because they pose a sexual threat. They are medically fragile, physically altered due to abuse and at times, children with behavioral needs. They are all traumatized American children.
On top of that, our child welfare system is turning abused and neglected children away and leaving them in their homes because the abuse isn’t “that bad.” Teen girls also remain in abusive homes because they are “older” and can supposedly protect themselves better than younger children. Why do we have so many teen girls turning to heroin? Why do we have so many unplanned pregnancies? They are trying to escape their abuse by grasping onto any ounce of love or temporary escape from reality. Teen girls are given back to sexually abusive fathers once they have both completed their “services.” In the United States, cocaine addicted babies are sent home with cocaine addicted mothers because there are not enough foster homes to take them. Several years ago, these children would have been removed and placed into foster care. Due to the rise in legitimate neglect and abuse cases, but lack of foster homes, the standards of removing children have lowered remarkably. These abused and neglected children remain in abusive and neglectful homes.
We have so many Americans screaming that we need to help the refugee children. My question is how many of those screaming Americans are foster parents? So many people are yelling that we need to do “something” but they are not willing to be that “something”. What are we going to do? Throw money at them? They need homes. If you are shouting that we need to accept more traumatized children in to our country, then you need to be shouting that you want to obtain your foster license. Anything less is hypocritical.
My heart breaks for these refugee children. When I saw that little toddler boy wash up on the shore, my heart sank. I want to help those kids too. But how? We don’t have Americans willing to do their share. I see people with five bedrooms, one child, making six figures and yet their life of privilege and convenience carries on while they continue to shame America for not “doing something.” It’s amazing how the bleeding heart stops at their property line or at the edge of their convenience.
You want refugee orphans to come to America? Okay, that’s fine with me. When are you getting your foster license?
*For those specifically wanting to help with the refugee crisis, you can start the process of welcoming refugees into your home HERE
Thank a Foster Parent HERE
Thank a DCS Professional HERE
Being a foster mom is one of the biggest blessings of my life. Bio mom of two and foster mom to many, I count myself lucky to be on this foster journey. My mission is to change the lives of children who enter the foster care system and to recruit quality foster parents to join in this life changing work. I consider it a blessing to be a mother, foster mother, teacher, author and inspirer.