MIDLAND DAILY NEWS OPED PAGE
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Foster Parents Dedicate Lives to Helping Children
by: Lawrence P. Adams
I have written a number of articles where I have been
extremely critical of the foster care system. I feel
it is badly broken and in need of drastic reform.
There is one area, however, that I have not been
critical of...the foster parents.
It seems, from my point of view, that the only time
the general public think of foster parents/children is
when a horrendous story reaches the headlines. Even
then we may only talk about the story for a few days,
when it leaves the headlines...they leave our
Yes, there are a few bad apples in foster parenting,
just as there are biological or adoptive parents. This
however, does not portray the vast majority of foster
parents. As one who lived within the Michigan foster
care system for eighteen years, I believe I can speak
with a degree of authority on the subject.
Maybe it is time for the media to tell the story of
those who dedicate their lives to make a child's life
better rather than the few who destroy them!
Foster parents, to me, are very special people in our
society. They provide a temporary refuge for those of
us considered society's "throw away kids."
I do know that being a foster parent takes a very
special type of individual. It takes someone who knows
both sides of life. One who knows what it is like to
be loved and also knows what it is like to be abused.
I am not talking about "guessing" what abuse is like.
You have to know the feelings of deep, dark despair
that a child feels when he, or she, has been abused
and has never been loved.
You see, foster parents in many situations, do not
receive the perfect little boy, or the perfect little
girl, when they take in a child. There is no perfect
little child by the time they reach foster care. The
damage has already been done and it can be very
severe. Children have already been physically or
sexually abused, neglected, moved numerous times on
the foster care system merry-go-round or just plain
Yet, foster parents take us kids into their homes for
short or extended periods of time. They attempt to
provide the nurturing, care and love that has been
Many times they do this at great emotional and
financial expense to themselves. Most are not
fostering for the money, but for the love of the
child. They often feel as abandoned by the system as
do many of the kids. They should not also go bankrupt
in the process.
Often, though the system says they are part of a team,
foster parents are left swinging in the wind...left to
the whim of the current social worker assigned to the
child. Their opinions about the child, their progress
or problems are left unheard. The "so called" experts
feel they know best! However, who knows better what is
going on in a child's life than those caring for
him/her twenty-four hours a day. Rather than be
considered a "servant" of the system...they should be
considered their most valuable resource and the "true"
It is things such as this that foster parents must
deal with, and they do. Why?...for the love of
I for one believe foster parents are the spine and
backbone of the foster care system. It is time they
are not only heard but actually listened to by those
in charge. Many counties and states are pleading for
people to become or stay foster parents, maybe if they
were allowed to really be part of the team, listened
to and cared about...more would.
To foster parents everywhere I say a very humble yet
sincere THANK YOU for all that you do! You may not
know the impact you have on a child's life while they
are with you, but you will have one! I for one do not
know where I would be today if it were not for people
such as you willing to open your home to me as a
child. I will be forever grateful.
Please continue to be a great strength and courage for
children. Sometimes the fruits of your labor may take
years to harvest. You must always keep in mind, when
taking in a foster child, that you are working toward,
not just saving a child, but saving an adult later on
down the road.
I have made something of my life, not because of the
system and what it put me through as a child, but in
spite of it. I wish I could take full credit. But the
credit is not mine to take. The credit belongs to
those who took, however briefly, the time to make a
difference in my life. YOU ARE MY HEROES! You may
never get a medal or an award. You, however, will be
able to know that many of your kids of today or us
kids of yesteryear became something...just because of
I was fortunate to be able to maintain a close
relationship with one of my foster families for years
after I was removed from their home for the third and
final time. I loved them deeply and they will always
remain Mom and Dad to me. They knew what they meant to
me and the impact they had on my life. They are now
long passed on but their impact will continue
throughout my life.
They and you are changing a lifetime one or two lives
at a time.
If those reading this wish to be a child's hero and
change a life, please consider becoming foster
parents. Contact your local government or private
agency responsible for child welfare today.
You may never know the true impact you have had on a
child who has been in your home, however, rest assured
there are thousands of us across the country who say a
quiet thank you and a prayer for you each and every
In 2003, Lawrence P. Adams, a former Michigan foster
child, wrote the poignant book of life through the
eyes of a throw away child entitled: "Lost Son? A
Bastard Child's Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery and
Healing." It was released in 2004. Mr. Adams has also
had numerous articles published of the need for child
welfare reform and is an Advocacy Ambassador for
International Advocates for Children. He may be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his web site