Debunking the Stigma Aroung Children in the Foster System
Adoption is a viable option for parents who are not able to raise their children themselves. It also gives many young couples the opportunity to have and raise a child that they might not otherwise be able to have. Many adoption cases are success stories, and America’s adoption system has much to recommend it; however, America’s adoption and foster system is also rife with controversies and problems; new solutions to those problems need to be explored.
The topic of this essay will be on the adoption/foster system and the stigma associated around it.
This essay will change the stigma around children in the foster care system who struggle to get adopted, especially the ones who have any mental illness. According to the article “Adopted Children Often Face Mental Health Struggles as Young Adults,” mental Illness affects adoption rates 12 to 14 percent of adopted children in the United States between the ages or 8 and 18 are diagnosed with mental disorders every year, and the adopted children are almost twice as likely as children brought up with their biological parents to suffer from mood disorders like anxiety, depression, reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and behavioral concerns such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder. Dr. Gina Marie Guarino’s research has found that adopted children are at risk for suffering from mental health disorders due to family history of AOD concerns, hereditary mental illness, abuse history and often issues in placement with foster families (paras.1-3).
Having one mental illness or multiple mental illnesses can cause problems for kids in everyday life. Examples range from going to school, working, and life in the foster home etc. Children in the foster care system often do not get linked with the service they need before their symptoms prove to cause an issue for them in everyday life. As a result of this, they can be labeled in schools as having “behavior problems” and often receive many suspensions and expulsions. This “over discipline” doesn’t always reduce the behavior but can in fact cause more stress and lead to other negative behaviors as well as issues with in the foster home regarding the parent child relationship.
The article Adopted Children often face Mental Health Struggles as Young Adults stated that several factors contribute to an adopted child’s risk of suffering from a mood or behavioral disorder such as the conditions of the foster/adoptive home and biological history of mental illness. Age of adoption is a relevant factor in that older children have likely moved to several homes. This experiences in itself can be traumatizing as it means readjusting to one’s environment, often a change in school/peers and in some case abuse in home. Lack of cultural sensitivity in the foster home can be an issues as well. If a child is adopted by a family of another culture or ethnicity this can cause future issues with identity and adjustment for the child. It is becoming very important for foster parents to not only educate themselves on how to deal with a child’s mental health concerns but to also understand their heritage and be respectful of the possible differences between their kids and the adopted child. A child’s family history can be a factor in deciding whether or not a family may choose to foster or adopt the child. If a child’s history appears too chaotic it can be intimidating to potential parents. (paras. 2-5)
According to research from sparkaction.org (1999) The impact of substance abuse on foster care. More often, children are coming into care because their parents are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Many children are also born to parents who abused drugs or alcohol while pregnant. Children often are placed in foster care with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or other drug – related conditions (para.1).
According to the Univ. of Minnesota, sexual abuse is also an important thing to learn about when taking in a child from the system. Most kids in the system are both domestically and internationally have experienced some degree of physical, sexual, emotional or neglectful abuse and at the very least have been impacted by relational trauma and separation. (para.2) It’s very hard for a abused or neglected child to have a conversation or express their feelings, because they might not trust the adult that is going to be fostering adopting them. Early trauma puts children at risk for cognitive, psychological, behavioral, and emotional long after being placed in their foster or adoptive home. Issues with internalizing (keeping things in), self esteem and externalizing (acting out) behaviors, social and developmental delays and mental health issues later on in life. If there is a history of any type of abuse documented on the child make sure u take consideration of the child and take care of their mental issues by getting them a counselor to talk to inside and outside of school.
When it comes to adopting siblings there are things that you must take into consideration. According to adoptuskids.org Adopting siblings approximately two-thirds of children in foster care in the United States have a sibling in care. Research shows that siblings placed together experience lower risk of failed placements, fewer moves, and many emotional benefits. Siblings placed together often feel more secure and are able to help each other adjust to their new family and community (para. 4).
Adopting older child is another thing to think about. To an older child in foster care system waiting to be adopted by a good family can seem forever. The article states that each year more than 20,000 children age out of the foster care system without the encouragement and consistency that a permanent family provides. (para.5)
Adopting a child from a different race or ethnicity is another thing. White, black, and hispanic (of any race) children comprise the majority of children in foster care. Black children are overrepresented, currently accounting for 24% of children in care. Hispanic children account for 22% of children in care according to recent data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report. (para.6)
In each state you are only allowed to have so many foster kids in your home. According to hunter.cuny.edu National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning. In ohio maximum of 5 children in foster care. No more than 2 children under the age of 2 years except sibling groups. A foster home shall not receive more than 5 children in the foster care system except to accommodate a sibling.