A little girl cries in the closet while her parents physically assault each other. A little boy looks for food in every nook and cranny in the house while his single mom shoots up heroin in the living room. These are just a few of the times when Child Services will step in and remove the child to put him or her in a foster home, a home that will take good care of the child until he or she is reintroduced into the home or adopted to a new family.
So many children are taken from their parents every day in America. Most of the children being removed from their homes are being removed for good reason. However, sometimes children get removed when they shouldn't be. The foster care system often works toward the goal of reuniting the child with the parent(s). The parents are given a "case plan" which outlines what they have to do to, and they have a year to complete it. If a judge thinks they have been trying but need more time, they can award them up to two, six-month extensions. If by then, the judge doesn't place the children back home, the parents can appeal the decision which could take around nine months to a year.
As you can hopefully see, the process in which the child is taken from the home is a long and drawn out one. It isn't something that is really good for the child to go through especially during the younger, more developmental years of his or her life. Luckily, there are so many foster families that are loving and welcoming to these children. However, not all of them are like this. Sometimes, thankfully not often, foster families can be mean and awful and even treat the child like he or she is an outcast.
My parents were foster parents, and although I am so thankful that they have helped so many children, I have seen a lot of awful things happen to those kids along the way. I have seen a lot of long-term physical and psychological impacts of foster care and adoption on the six children that have been in our home, but one of the worst things that I have seen happen is that the child is often returned to the parent before the parent has really proved themselves. It is hard for a judge and a case worker to see the things that happen when they aren't around, so sometimes, although a parent has finished a case plan and followed through, their home still isn't the best place for a child to be. This happens all too often, and there really isn't a simple fix for this problem.
Another problem that I have noticed is that the biological parent is always given the benefit of the doubt. They are almost always believed in a situation over the foster parents. This creates a sort of war between the foster parents and the biological parents. Through this I have definitely grown to understand the meaning of the term "custody battle," because it really is a battle not knowing from day-to-day if you will still have this child that you have grown to love in your care.
So even though I mostly complained about our foster care system in America, it really isn't all that bad. They do tend to take children when they need help, and they do their best (usually) to get the children help and to do what is in their best interest. Unfortunately, the children don't understand any of this, and they are just taken from their families and placed with strangers or relatives that they don't know very well. This process is hard on these children, and I think we all need to remind ourselves of that and be so thankful for what we have in life.