Over the years, we’ve been blessed with the privilege of working with many beautiful children in foster care. So, you can believe us when we say that they’re incredibly insightful and astute young people.
There’s just one problem – their voices are often given the least value or weight when it comes to important decisions regarding their life being made within the foster system. One foster care fact is that their input always seems to become overlooked.
When we speak to foster children, they mentioned feeling like extraneous cogs in a big wheel that went on around them. Granted, they didn’t exactly say it like that, but we summed it up. Some of them even used to be ashamed of the fact that they were a foster child, and they hid it from their peers as long as they could because they were afraid of being treated differently.
Despite all of the professional training and years of experience we have had in our many years as the leading foster agency in London, we believe that we learn more about children in foster care through actually speaking to them, and of course, listening.
6 Things Children In Foster Care Want You to Know
We want you to know what we’ve learned over the years, so can open your mind to some foster care facts, and their whole world through the eyes of a foster child.
Here we go.
1. They Come From Diverse Family Backgrounds
Although over half of the children in foster care are minorities and a disproportionate amount come from impoverished families, many of them do in fact have middle-class backgrounds.
Believe it or not, some of these young people come from well-respected communities, and still suffer abuse from their parents. However, they’re made to feel as if their struggles are not as ‘’important’’ as the children who come from poorer backgrounds.
2. Their Parents Aren't Perfect, but They Are Theirs
We all know it – there are definitely some monstrous parents who abuse and intentionally inflict harm upon their children in ways that are just, unimaginable. However, the majority are simply broken adults.
The truth of the matter around this foster care fact is that they don’t have the necessary skills to take care of themselves, let alone their children. Many battle demons of mental ill-health, and drug and alcohol addiction. Often, they struggle to break free from the continuous cycle of abusive relationships, or even their own traumatic childhoods.
It’s important to keep in mind that they may come across as terrible excuses for parents; but to children in foster care, that person may mean the world to them. Despite the built-up anger, they never stopped loving their mothers and fathers.
3. They Have Dreams and Ambitions
We need to stop labelling and limiting our youth, especially foster children. It’s time to start uplifting and supporting them instead. Just like us, they have dreams, they have ambitions. Most loving parents out there wouldn’t dare withdraw the support they give their children until they reach adulthood, so why do those in care feel limited?
4. The Foster System Doesn’t Work for Most
There’s a legitimacy of the foster system that is rooted in the belief that letting a foster child carry on in an unhealthy family would be cruel. We built the idea that removing children from their inept parents is a means of rescuing them. And in most cases, it’s totally correct.
So many children, unfortunately, are murdered by their parents each year, and the tragedies would most likely be higher if it wasn’t for the foster system. However, there is just one problem. Children in foster care report worse mental health, employment, housing, and education outcomes than those who suffered a similar level of neglect or abuse that remained within a family home.
Unfortunately, it’s just something that must be done for the safety of a child. Don’t worry, although not with their biological parents, foster children are receiving enormous amounts of love from foster family’s everywhere.
5. We Also Have Regular Kid Problems
Sure, being in the foster system in care is huge, but it doesn’t eclipse who they are. Just because they are in foster care doesn’t mean they get an automatic pass on the everyday issues that also tend to bother other children.
Of course, they’re still going to receive exam anxiety, fights with friends, broken hearts first crushes, insecurities and weaknesses, good days and bad days, and sure enough, puberty. It goes without saying, there’s going to be moments when being in foster care will have an impact on their relationships, and will impact how they handle their normal life. But, you know what? Sometimes, it’s just not all about being a foster child, they’re also a human being.
6. They are NOT Just Foster Children
Perhaps this is the most important thing out of everything that they need you to know. Children in foster care aren’t actually ‘’children in foster care’’. They are young people who have had unfortunate experiences that have led them to be placed in foster care. What they’re not? A monolith with uniform feelings or responses on every issue.
The experience of being in foster care is undoubtedly going to leave an indelible imprint on their lives, but how it shapes their future and their journey is going to vary. Each individual case only provides a snapshot of their life and their background. It’s never going to tell the whole story. The largeness of who they are, or who they’re going to become, cannot be contained with the foster system experience.
We at Apple Fostering continue to become inspired by their resilience, fortitude, and tenacity amidst constant changes upheavals, and their immense capacity to adapt to new situations. All foster children are uniquely sentient, nuanced and complex young people with their special set of quirks, habits, weaknesses, strengths, gifts, talents, fears, and most of all, their aspirations.
Each and every single child or young person in foster care is a courageous individual with something to say.
Listen to them.