Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Foster Care and Adoption

Lately I've been getting frustrated with the process to become a foster parent. My life is moving on and moving quickly, and because I still have no idea if and when I will be getting a child, I can't make plans around a child's welfare. And I know I'm not the only one in this position. My friend Lindsay is going through a contested adoption over her youngest son. My friend, Sara, is in the process of adopting two little girls from Ethiopia. (Sidenote: Sara and Linds know each other as well. We all grew up in Oakton together.) And my friend, Richard Rieben and his darling wife, Valerie, who have "homemade" triplets, plus two "custom ordered" sons from Uzbekistan and Ukraine, are in the process of adopting two girls from Bulgaria. (each of the links go to each respective person's blog on their adoption journey)

As I read the blogs of each of these people, and I am overwhelmingly affected by how much we all have in common, in spite of the total differences in our situations. The major similarity in all of our cases is just how long this process takes, and how bureaucracy and red tape can screw things up.We all have good homes, and we have all been waiting forever to be cleared to receive our children.

I don't have many statistics on adoption. But I would like to share with you some stats on foster care here in Utah.

  • More than 36,400 complaints of child abuse and neglect are made each year.
  • Last year, approximately 19,878 complaints were investigated, and 8,268 were found to have some merit.
  • The most common complaints involved children witnessing domestic violence and being sexually abused.
  • Neglect accounts for 36 percent of children in custody.
  • 1,758 children entered foster care.
  • Substance abuse was a factor in 56 percent of children placed in foster care.
  • Sixty-seven percent of families receiving services have their children living with them in their homes.
  • There are 2,600 children under state care in Utah as of 9/22/09.
  • Typically a foster family receives $15 per day for care for infants and children and $18 for a teenager. In comparison, the average doggy day care or kennel charges $20 per day for animal care. 
  • Latino/Hispanic children are over-represented in foster care. They comprise 25% of the children in custody.
In spite of how grim and depressing the foster care world may sound to some, there are hundreds of good people and good homes out there waiting to take in a child. We're just all being held up by lack of funds and red tape. Did you know Utah cut the Children and Family Services budget by 8% this year? It may not sound like a large cut, but they were already horribly underfunded.

I get asked a lot why I want to become a foster parent. This weekend I had someone very directly look me in the eye and say, "WHY?" I know it surprises and shocks some people. Why would a single woman want to become a foster mother? Why would I want to give up my freedom and single lifestyle to be tied down to a child? And why would anyone want to take in a troubled youth, who has been abused, and will need counseling and therapy?

I don't have a simple or easy answer to give you. I can tell you that my whole life I have known I would be a foster parent and adoptive parent someday. When I was 12 years old and other kids wanted to be astronauts and doctors, I wanted to be a foster parent (I may not have ever written an essay on the subject, but I always just *knew* I would be some day). I have always believed that if you have been blessed with much, you should share as much. I am grateful to have a good income, the time, and the ability to provide for someone else. I also personally feel that a single woman, on her own, taking care of herself, is the best possible role model for a teenage girl in the system who is about to age out and be stuck on her own.

I wanted to be Brangelina, before Brangelina was cool. I wanted to be the Duggars before the Duggars were cool. (Wait, are the Duggars cool? I think they are.) For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to adopt a dozen children from around the world. I just never expected to be in my mid-30's and still single. I never thought I'd be starting on those life dreams so late. I do believe that children deserve two parents- both a father and a mother. And as much as I want to adopt children from Ethiopia, Vietnam, China, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and many other places, I won't do it alone. At least not yet. I have decided that if I am still single at 40, I will revisit the idea. But for now, I will stick with foster parenting. In foster care, the child already has two parents; I make three. Its unfortunate that the first two parents suck and don't deserve their child.

So I just sit and wait for someone somewhere to finish reviewing my paperwork. And I just keep making plans assuming there won't be a child in my life. I'll go to NYC each month, plan a trip to Scotland, plan a trip to VA, start making Christmas plans, and commit myself to more and more projects. And all the time wonder if and when a child is going to arrive in my life and throw all of this off? Is it really going to take a full year from the point I had my first in-take interview to actual placement? If the child doesn't arrive before Christmas, then yes, it will have taken a full year. Isn't that sad?


  1. Yes Erin, it is sad. We have been trying to adopt for about a year now and can't believe the process it has been. Not just the money but the emotional stress. We always hear that so many children need good homes and here we are waiting and trying and the state foster care is the hardest. After being approved for adoption, we were told that we had to do everything again for the sate foster care system. Hang in there, it will all be worth it when you finally get that call that you will be bringing home a little one soon. We are awaiting the arrival of our little son that is due in November!! We finally found a birth mom through a private lawyer but still crossing our fingers that everything will work out. Please keep me posted on how things are going with you.

  2. Anonymous12:24 AM

    Hey, contact the organization i am working with. They are licenced through the state.

    Utah Youth village
    5800 Highland Dr
    Salt Lake City, UT 84121-1359
    (801) 272-9980

    Brittany should answer, let her know what your looking for, she will get you in touch with a consultant who will get you a foster child, they are desperate, and pay well!

    Call me if you need anything!

  3. Good luck, Erin. You will be a great parent. But, don't think of it as sad because you have to wait awhile. Do you realize that I have to wait six months after I have a seizure to drive again? I can't control when I have them. It is just part of life. The screening process will end someday. Just be patient.

  4. Your plight as well as others frustrates me to no end. There are so many people wanting to foster or adopt, but the red tape, bureaucracy, cost and numerous other reasons keep people from trying or continuing their quest.

    PS- I do think that in Utah you will have a struggle doing anything because you're single. Maybe i'm wrong.

  5. hang in there! i know it's hard! i was trying to adopt a child last year..it was going to be a private adoption and just everything being out of your hands and the waiting and not knowing can be horrible! i had people asking me why also since i'm not married either. i like you always wanted to adopt children. i am considering foster care when i get a little older. i hate how people always tell me why not just foster cause i could get money...like it would be about the money! some people just don't understand how we can SELFLESS. that's just as frustrating as the fact that there are so many kids that need homes and so many homes that want them but yet either money or "red tape" prevents them from ever meeting.

  6. Erin,
    Keep it going. Soon you'll be past this point and make a difference in another youth just like you do with @erinslitte. I've always wanted to foster as well. I actually used to work at the humane sociey here in MN and there were a few gals that I worked with that fostered as well! Man they were getting a double dose of pets and kids! They were saints to be sure!

    Ever since then though I've seen the difference that they make in people's lives and I want to do the same! What a wonderful world we live that we actually have the opportunity to do so!

    Good luck, I'll be praying for you and your future children



Thanks for leaving a comment!

Working Girl

Recently, I've been picking up work as a background extra on various projects. In the past month or so I've worked on 3 different m...

Keep Reading! Popular Posts from this Blog.