MIDLAND DAILY NEWS ARTICLE #2
SPEAKING OUT FOR OTHERS
October 3, 2004
"I won't get paper bags, it brings back horror stories," Adams said when asked why he only uses plactic bags. As a young boy Adams moved 14 times in 11 years, packing up his belongings in a paper grocery bag. (Photo by Ryan Wood/Daily News)
Speakng out for Others
Angela E. Lackey , Midland Daily News 10/03/2004
Paper bags were a big part of Larry Adams'
"The damn paper bags," he said. He packed his
belongings in a paper bag for every move.
"And I always had room in my paper bag. I couldn't
even fill up a paper bag," he said.
"It still impacts me today," he continued. "I will
not buy groceries ... in a paper bag. I specify
Adams, 54, of Midland, spent 11 years in Wayne
County's foster care system during the 1950s. He has
several complaints -- the constant moving; the fact no
one ever explained anything to him, including a reason
for moving yet again; that no caseworker was involved
in his case more than once, and more.
"As a kid, I was quite quiet, shy. I felt I was
supposed to trust those older than me, that they knew
better," he said.
He said the foster children went twice a year to
the St. Vincent De Paul Society for basic clothing --
T-shirts, shirts, school pants, underwear.
"By the time I went to Boys Town, I had pretty
much determined no one did want me, that my life
sucked and that no one was going to take
responsibility for me except me," he said. "I was
going to have to be responsible for me."
But at least one foster couple -- Ernie and
Mildred Monshor -- tried to adopt Adams.
He somewhat idealizes life with the elder
Monshors. When pressed, Adams said Ernie "drank on
occasion" and both were racist. His foster sister,
Genevieve Monshor accused Mildred of abuse, when in
fact it was Ernie abusing his wife. The accusation
cost him a home with the Monshors.
Adams' mother intended for her son to be adopted,
and she was shocked when she found he spent 11 years
in foster homes. So why did he spend his first months
of life in Providence Hospital nursery?
Records mention only one prospective adoptive
couple -- the Bellmeyers. He stayed in foster care
until he moved to Boys Town at 11.
Adams said today's foster system also has
problems. He said a number of children are put in
foster care for wrong reasons. In-home services and
classes could help some parents. Other parents are
just in difficult circumstances.
"Poverty should never be used as a reason to
remove a child," he said. "I think we've made it too
easy to remove a child from the home."
On the other hand, Adams does not support
reunification of the family at any cost and he thinks
adoption should be considered a possibility when a
child is first placed in foster care. He said children
with the least number of options -- older children,
different races, disabled children -- should be the
system's top priority.
"Too much effort, time and resources are spent on
trying to reunify a family that should not be
reunified," he said.
He also said some parents are given too many
chances and too much time to correct problems.
"Parents should be sat down and given a detailed
plan," Adams said. He added they should be given one
opportunity and 12 months to accomplish that plan. He
said parental rights should be terminated after that.
He doesn't believe parents who are sexual
predators should be given even one chance.
"They don't get another chance to abuse the
child," he said. "I got very strong feelings on that.
Rather than be given a chance, your butt should be put
in jail for a long time."
Adams is a strong believer in states' rights, but
feels the state has failed when it comes to foster
"The system is broken," he said. "Foster care
ought to be declared a national crisis and taken over
by the federal government.
"There should be national standards," he
continued. "I know I will get a ton of argument on
this. But they've (the states) failed."
He said the states were asked to meet their own
standards in 1997. Not one state did, and he said
Michigan was near the bottom.
Midland County officials believe the system is
"It's a different world," Probate Court Judge
Dorene Allen said about Wayne County and its foster
care system. Allen said Midland County's small size is
"We have hands-on knowledge of the kids," Allen
There are actually two foster care systems in
Midland County. Children who are abused and/or
neglected are placed in Family Independence Agency
foster care homes, while delinquent children are
placed in county homes.
The qualifications for both types of foster care
homes are identical. Potential foster parents go
through a number of steps before the home is licensed.
Michele Bell, the county's foster care coordinator,
asks why they want to be foster care parents and
visits the home. They are required to provide three
reference letters from friends.
The county then does a criminal background check
on each potential foster parent. After that comes
back, Bell does a home study. This includes looking at
how they raised or are raising their children. She
asks about how they discipline children, their
strengths and weaknesses and their hobbies. Allen said
the foster parents are continuously trained.
All this is done to ensure the best possible
placement for each child. Bell said in her 16 years
with the county, she has had about two complaints. One
complaint was substantiated, the other was not.
Allen said there is very little turnover of foster
care parents. One home has been licensed for 11 years,
and the majority have five or more years experience.
Allen said the national average is one to two years.
There also isn't a lot of moving around for
Midland County foster children. Allen said in recent
years, eight children were moved one time and one
child was moved twice. A child with severe problems
was moved three times.
Despite Adams' bad experiences, he admires foster
"Your bad foster parents are in the minority.
There's a problem with the system," he said. "Why was
it necessary for me to go through 14 moves?"
He said many foster care children are still moved
Now he hopes to help foster children. He has
written "Lost Son? A Bastard Child's Journey of Hope,
Search, Discovery, and Healing," published by
PublishAmerica. His second book, "A Voice from the
Voiceless & Forgotten ... An Anthology of a Foster
Care System Child Survivor," is to be published next
He is also an advocacy ambassador for the
Georgia-based International Advocates for Children.
One of the group's goals is to change foster care
"The biggest thing I can do as a former foster
child ... is speak out," he said.
Adams can be e-mailed at email@example.com. His
website is www.larrya.us.
İMidland Daily News 2004
Midland Daily News Article #1
SEARCHING FOR A FAMILY