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6 Misconceptions About Foster Kids That You Shouldn’t Have

6 Misconceptions About Foster Kids That You Shouldn’t Have

Although I’ve never personally lived in foster care, I have two family members that did for several years of their lives. After seeing them grow up in those circumstances, I can somewhat relate to fostered children through the experiences they have lived through.

There are many unjustified stigmas and misconceptions about children in the foster care system. The current state of foster care in the U.S. highlights the fact that fostered youth enter the system through no fault of their own. They have been removed from their families due to abuse or neglect.

After placing yourself in their shoes, you’ll recognize that life is not all sunshine and rainbows for a child in foster care. The toxicity of unwarranted stigmas only adds to the struggles that fostered youth must face. These misconceptions are wildly inaccurate and disheartening. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about children in the foster care system.

1. Foster Care is Punishment For Delinquents

Many people incorrectly assume that foster children are a part of the system because they have a proven track record of being difficult to deal with, or only cause trouble. I experienced this attitude firsthand when a  classmate of mine made the connection between chemists and those who manufacture hard drugs like meth (I can only imagine how this would have amplified if Breaking Bad existed at the time).

He then proceeded to make the distinction between meth heads ending up in jail, “just like troublemakers end up in Juvie or foster homes.”

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His opinion is not only bothersome, but it is also wildly inaccurate. Foster kids are not delinquents, they are kids searching for a safe environment to live and grow in.

2. Foster Kids and Orphans Are Creepy or Scary

In 2009, the atrocity of a film, Orphan, hit theatres. Aside from the poor writing, sub-par filming techniques, and a predictable climax this movie managed to also project some toxic stigmas about children in foster care.

Orphan creates an eerie presence that’s centered around the idea that the adopted child, Esther, has a dark, creepy past. She is perceived to be evil in numerous ways. When it’s finally announced that Esther is actually not a child but in fact a murderous thirty-something year old, the film does nothing to clear up the stigmas it creates.

It’s certainly not surprising that this movie wasn’t received well, especially by those with ties to the social work or adoption community. “It must be difficult to love an adopted child as much as your own” was the film’s original tagline. The highly insensitive slogan was later replaced with the tagline “I don’t think Mommy likes me very much,” which is hardly considered an improvement.

In an article posted to The Daily Beast, author and mother of five orphaned children, Melissa Fay Greene, stated:

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“The movie Orphan comes directly from this unexamined place in popular culture. Esther’s shadowy past includes Eastern Europe; she appears normal and sweet, but quickly turns violent and cruel, especially toward her mother. These are clichés. This is the baggage with which we saddle abandoned, orphaned, or disabled children given a fresh start at family life.”

3. Fostered Kids Are More Likely to Be Bullies

My nephews grew up in a less than ideal household surrounded by addiction and abuse. They faced the biggest struggles of their young lives just as they were entering school for the first time. School should have been a safe haven but instead it became a breeding ground for bullying. It’s hard to imagine what that must feel like, especially when forced to constantly relocate and start fresh at an unfamiliar school.

For whatever reason people assume that those in foster care are likely to be bullies. This is so far from the truth, it’s painful. In reality those facing instability, especially at a young age, are more prone to being bullied.

When a child stands out or is perceived to be different, the way they are seen by their peers can become convoluted. This often times results in irrational behavior that transitions into bullying. Furthermore, those in foster care typically have to move a lot and are always viewed as the ‘new kid’. The vicious cycle of bullying can become a regular occurrence, and that is troubling to say the least.

However, these cases of bullying do not always go unheard. They are all direct examples of why school counselors fulfill an important role within the education system.

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4. Foster Kids Are Typically Minorities

It is widely assumed that minorities and foster care go hand-in-hand. While  these two things may correlate,  the facts point out that kids in foster care are racially and ethnically diverse.

According to recent data , approximately 42% of children in foster care are White, 26% are Black, 21% are Hispanic, and the remaining 9% are multiracial (6%), American Indian (2%), and Asian (1%).

5. Same Sex Couples Should Not Foster Children

This misconception that same sex couples are any less capable than other couples could not be more close-minded and false. Currently, only two states have any laws preventing same sex couples from becoming foster parents. Those two states are Utah and Nebraska. Ironically, gay marriage is 100% legal in those states. So where does the problem lie? Short answer, nowhere.

Same sex marriages have proven to be just as healthy as those deemed ‘traditional’.  And the divorce rate of those deemed ‘non-traditional’ by some are actually significantly lower than marriages between a woman and a man.

In the LGBT Adoption Statistics section of their website, Lifelong Adoptions states: “In most states, whether gay adoption is legal is made on a case-by-case basis by a judge. However, there are 16 states that definitely allow joint gay adoptions (when a same-sex couple jointly petition for adoption): Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.”

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The laws are changing, and if progress continues on the same track it won’t be long before there are very few or no limitations at all regarding same-sex foster parenting and adoption.

6. Abusive Cycles Will Always Run Full Circle

As humans, we strive to live functional, rewarding, and healthy lives. We learn from mistakes and from the ideals instilled in us by our parents or parental figures. This leads many to assume that people typically end up behaving similarly to the way they were raised. When it comes to foster kids, there is a misconception that since abusive or unhealthy behaviors may have once surrounded them, they will continue to be ingrained in their tendencies and behaviors for life.

The fact is that foster parents make a difference for these children. Turnaround is common, and it allows for mentoring and creates an environment that foster kids aren’t necessarily accustomed to. This results in children who are happy to feel a sense of security and are able to focus on betterment and moving forward.

So the next time you hear a shaming phrase related toward the foster care system or any related stigmas, politely nudge that person toward the truth. Let them know that these stigmas are unfair to the children who bear them, because they are in foster care by no fault of their own. They do not deserve to be looked down upon.

“Parenthood requires love, not DNA.”

-Anonymous

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Robert Parmer

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on June 8, 2018

10 Harsh But True Illustrations that Show Our Changed Society

10 Harsh But True Illustrations that Show Our Changed Society

Let’s face it.  We are living in a digital age, and there is absolutely no turning back. One of the biggest influences on society these days is social media. It affects us both positively and negatively. Social media was originally designed for people to share interesting facets of their lives with their friends, but it has become so much more than what it intended to be. It is now a medium for information to pass around the globe. In many cases, people first learn about current events through Twitter or Facebook before hearing about them from conventional news sources.

We also rely on technology for nearly everything we do. People these days seem as if they can’t go anywhere or do anything without their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. They need to be in constant contact with others via electronic devices.

However, there is also a downside to be too connected to social media and electronic devices. We are too dependent on them, which make us oblivious to what we are doing to ourselves. Being too connected can have a negative effect on our lives and the society as a whole. Here are 10 true illustrations that show how our society is negatively impacted because of the use of technology.

1. Facebook is eating away at your time.

Facebook is eating away your time

    How much time do you usually spend each day on Facebook or other social networking sites? Is it hindering your productivity? Do you find yourself wasting time to a point where you don’t even know where it goes? If the answer is yes, Facebook might have eaten away at your time.

    2. We’ve become “Likeaholics.”

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    Likeaholic

      When you are posting something on Facebook, are you doing it just to see how many of your friends will give it the proverbial thumbs up? This illustration shows that some people are treating “Likes” on Facebook as if it was a drug they needed to inject into their bloodstreams.

      3. Our electronics have priority over our lives.

      priorities

        Given a choice between your dying phone battery or you dying, which will you choose? In this case, the man in this illustration chose to charge his phone over to sustain his own life. As a society, we need to be more careful of our priorities.

        4. Our devices are ruining intimacy.

        lack of intimacy

          Have you and your loved one ever spent time together where each of you is on your phone instead of communicating face-to-face with each other? Has society reached the point where we can’t even be intimate with each other without being on our phones at the same time?

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          5. Families aren’t spending quality time together.

          mother baking

            Here is a mother making holiday cookies, but what are the kids doing? They are not making cookies with their mother. Instead, every one of them has their faces buried in their own electronic devices. Television used to be what parents use to babysit their kids. Now, it’s a tablet, phone, laptop or video game that does the job.

            6.  We’d rather record someone than help them.

            drowning

              A lot is happening in this illustration. A black man is drowning and asking for help. One person has a gun pointed at him. The other person has their iPhone pointed at him and is recording the scene, but is not interested to help this man.

              7. Society is sleeping, it’s sleeping its life away.

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              sleeping your life away

                Time is money. After we have wasted the long period of time on social media, we are losing the most valuable currency we have – our time in this world.

                8.  Despite all the technology we have, we still want what someone else has.

                wanting what someone else is having

                  There’s an old saying that goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” This illustration shows that despite all that we have, we are still not satisfied with our lives.

                  9. Sensationalism still sells.

                  free expression

                    With the information overload that exists today, the media still looks for sensationalism. Here’s a woman who feels she has something important to say, but the media only cares about her because she is naked. Would the news media still have microphones in front of her if she wasn’t standing there topless?

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                    10. In the end, with all of this, we are still killing the planet.

                    gun to mother earth

                      This last illustration argues that despite all of our technological gains, we are still polluting the earth as if we have a virtual gun pointed at Mother Nature. As we build bigger cities and higher technology, how much more damages can we continue to do before putting our lives at risk?

                      Featured photo credit: Michael Summers via flickr.com

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