God is the madwoman in the attic.
I'm camped out on the threshold with my journal, camera, and plenty of snacks.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

good grief

I read an newspaper article last night about a boy, Sam, in the foster care system here. Sam's mom wasn't able to take care of him, but because the system is committed to reuniting birth families, he was repeatedly returned to her following episodes of abuse and neglect.

At three years old Sam was moved to a foster home, and then another, and endured abuse, and was moved again, and then again... You see where this is going. By the time he was nine years old he was diagnosed with attachment disorder and had developed severe behavioral problems.

The system did this to him. They were supposed to be protecting him and instead they perpetrated all kinds of offenses against him - the kinds of offenses that a kid absorbs into who he is, what he believes about himself, his worth & abilities. According to the article:
Sam is one of 13 current and former foster children whose guardians have brought a civil lawsuit against the Department of Social and Health Services alleging that the state failed to provide stable homes or adequate treatment after removing them from their birth families.
The article was posted in 1999 so Sam is now a 21 year old man. Did the lawsuit do any good? Initiate any changes in the system? Was anyone able to reach & support & truly foster Sam?

The story has broken my heart. I can't think about the little boy Sam without crying. For the first time in my life (because I am a mother now?), I think of him & the other kids in foster care as our kids. The responsibility and the family of the adults in every town where these kids live. Now what do I do with that conviction?

Immediately - I can pray; I can support the couple of families that I know that have adopted kids from foster care.

Long term - I need to do some homework; maybe there's volunteering or fundraising or clothing and toy drives; maybe there's other, more direct ways, for me to respond to the good grief that this story has moved in me.

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