Category Archives: Stories

Information that helps us understand foster care as an experience, not just a social structure

National Foster Care Month – FPAWS, get a move on!

Well, here we are, ten days into National Foster Care Month. There’s a lot out there going on in the State of Washington, and around the USA this month.

I’ve walked around the lake in Olympia, Washington for “Walk Me Home to Where I Belong” and doled out free cake and coffee to patrons at the GATEWAYS Bingo Hall in Lakewood, Washington, to remind them that their dollars support foster kids. I’ve met with all the therapeutic foster care providers in Tacoma, Washington in a brainstorming session to discuss how to chart the course for the future, and I’ve said goodbye to two really great advocates for foster care.

I include the goodbyes in the list, because change is essential to progress. And it’s not because the people leaving were bad, they were REALLY, REALLY Good!! AND – they aren’t really gone; they’re not dead, they haven’t stopped being foster parents, Scotty has failed to beam them up… So, they are still doing their part to lift up the children that we’ve entrusted to them. But, they’ve passed the baton.

Steve and Daniele Baxter, outgoing Co-Presidents of the Washington State Foster Parent Association, are sailing off into the sunset on a big boat for the adventure of a lifetime.
I am truly jealous. I know it’s hard for them to let go with so much left to do, but they deserve the break. They’ve been warriors and champions for a long time and I expect they will continue to contribute from where ever fate leads them next.

Looking back on the changes that the Baxters helped to bring about, they can be proud. We had an amazing initiative take seed here. Many kudos have to go to those who forced the dialogue by filing suit. It has raised the level of debate in our state capital about how we want to handle foster care.

Many people like the Baxters were key players in forming the debate that followed and the reforms that were adopted. The lack of speed at which reforms are implemented may drive some folks back to court, but the good news is that we will have a pilot program to look at how the concept of professional foster care homes could work. I’m looking forward to seeing the reviews of that program.

The Baxters have passed the baton, so who will take it up? Who will lead the charge in the State of Washington, answer the call, take up arms, step forward, fight the good fight, and forge ahead for the future of our children?

We at Foster Truth say from the bottom of our hearts, “Bless you, Baxters, and thank you.”

And also, “OKAY, FPAWS, get a move on, already! Everybody’s watching!”

There’s a lot you don’t know that can hurt us all – AND it’s killing our kids…

Almost a generation ago, I started to write a book about my experiences as an attorney for foster-to adopt parents, and as an attorney representing children and parents in “Child In Need of Care” cases.  I was going to call the book “Broken Babies, Shattered Dreams” – because that’s what I saw all around me. 

The book was intended as a call to action,  describing the danger we faced as a society because we were raising a generation of children with no conscience, no trust in the future and a compelling need to be violent and destructive.  

In the first three chapters, I told the the sad stories of two children adopted out of the foster care system who had been damaged by horrific abuse and neglect. The saddest part of the tale was what happened to them when somebody tried to love them. They couldn’t receive it, not because of the abusive acts of their parents, but because their spirits were ultimately crushed beyond repair by years of suffering at the hands of a stupid and uncaring system and the wrongheaded and inept service providers in its employ. 

I wrote the first three angry chapters and then put it on a shelf to gather dust, hoping someday to get back to it.  I’ve done a lot of things with my life and career in the intervening years, and now I’ve come full circle to work with the children of those children. 

I’m one of those people in charge of the system, directing the work of service providers. Every time we lose a young person to the drug culture or the internal devils that haunt these children, I remember my rage and sense of helplessness from a generation ago.

Still, the knowledge I garnered in my days of advocacy inform the philosophical ideals that I’ve adopted in working within the foster care system.  I wish I could say that I’ve discovered that I was young and misguided back then or that society has come to its collective senses and that we’re back on the right track. 

Instead, what I have to say is that the situation has followed it’s natural path of increase, and that the damage inflicted, the danger we face and the number of children has grown.  

We failed to heal many of the children who were severely injured, physically and emotionally abused and sexually exploited a generation ago.  A significant number of them have grown up to become monsters in turn.  Moreover, it appears that by the next generation they will have seriously infected the general population with their legacy of indifference to pain, obsession with violence, shallow materiality and need for immediate gratification and constant stimulation. 

Indicators like drug addiction, suicide and cognitive behavior disorders are on the rise.  Some say that we can attribute the alarming rise in other emotional and cognitive disabilities in part to chemicals present in our environment and in part to the emotional distance and disconnect between children and caring adults.  Nowhere is that disconnect more apparent than in the lives of chilren in th foster care system.

Well, that’s my rant.  But instead of writing another angry three chapters to gather dust, I’m going to use the wonders of our new techno-enviro world that may or may not be partially to blame for fostering more face-to-face disconnect.  I’m going to use this forum to share my stories, my concerns and ideas with others, and try to listen to what those others are thinking.  Maybe together we can arrive at a solution.  Because, although I am worried, I believe there is a thoughtful, practical and caring real world solution to help this next generation dream new dreams and become happy, healthy and prosperous.