Debunking Myths about Foster/Adoptive Children

Last updated: 01-22-2021

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Debunking Myths about Foster/Adoptive Children

Let's get something straight from the beginning. Kids do not end up in foster care or are not put up for adoption because there is something wrong with them. The majority of children do not wake up and hope to be taken away from the only family they have ever known. They don't ask to be born to drug-addicted parents. They don't choose to be neglected. They don't choose to be abused. They don't ask to be abandoned. Those are not things that children choose. Children are placed in foster care and adopted because there is something wrong with the adults who are supposed to take care of them. Some research demonstrates that nearly 80% of foster children have mental health issues. However, this data, in my opinion, is greatly skewed. Foster children and adoptees are put under greater scrutiny than the general population. If the data and same scrutiny is extrapolated to the general population, the mental health issues are only somewhat higher than those in the general population, but not as marked as originally believed. I would further contend that the "mental health" issues associated with foster children and adoptees is more closely related to than mental health issues. Foster children and adopted children are often grieving lost siblings, parents, and the only family and life they have ever known. Imagine waking up one day and you no longer live with your family, your mom, your brothers, sisters, or anyone who knows you. Instead, you wake up in a house full of strangers and you are told they are going to take care of you. The child is told these strangers are now family. The child has no personal advocate, no one to turn to. The child is alone in a room full of people they barely know and is not sure who s/he can trust. That is a pretty stressful situation for a young child. Foster children and adopted children are not less capable than other children. Foster children, however, do struggle with educational attainment and other objectives. This is largely attributed to instability in home and education. Instability can affect children's educational attainment by creating stress, producing lack of cohesion in education, and lessening bonding time with teachers, classmates and communities. Only six percent of foster children are likely to get a college degree. Foster children are also less likely to get a high school diploma. Adopted children, however, are likely to score equal to or greater than their non-adopted peers on school performance, social competency, optimism and volunteerism. Adopted children are less likely than non-adopted children to repeat grades. Adopted children are also less likely to experience depression, engage in drug and alcohol abuse, or vandalism than children of single parents. Adoptive children also often have greater self-esteem, greater positive point of view of others, and generally feel more secure within their families than children from single parent homes. Adopted children also tend to be better off economically and have greater access to healthcare services than their non-adopted counterparts. There is an aphorism floating around the internet that states that "Hurt people hurt people, generation after generation." This is a myth and incredibly untrue. The myth basically postulates that if someone is abused, or hurt, in some way, then they, too, will become an abuser. This is fallacious reasoning. Imagine applying this same aphorism to other types of abuse, such as rape. This notion would suggest that rape victims become rapists or burglary victims would become burglars. Recent research has shown that children who are abused are no more likely to grow up to abuse children than the general population. That is, abused children grow up to be abusers. Unfortunately, studies did show that those with low socioeconomic status who had been abused as children were more likely to neglect their own children. Moreover, children who suffer abuse and neglect with the problem being undetected, unaddressed or untreated are more likely to suffer negative behavioral outcomes.These may include use of drugs or alcohol, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, and lower ability to establish and maintain intimate adult relationships. Sources: About Kids Health. Trusted Answers from the Hospital for Sick Children. Mental health of adopted children: risks and protective factors, found online at  http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/News/NewsAndFeatures/Pages/Mental-health-of-adopted-children-risks-and-protective-factors.aspx Lee et al. Implicit Bias in the Child Welfare, Education, and Mental Health Systems. National Center for Youth Law, found online at  https://youthlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Implicit-Bias-in-Child-Welfare-Education-and-Mental-Health-Systems-Literature-Review_061915.pdf National Conference of State Legislatures. Mental Health and Foster Care, found online at  http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/mental-health-and-foster-care.aspx Mariscal et al. Exploring the path from foster care to stable and lasting adoption: Perceptions of foster care alumni. Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 55, August 2015, pg 111-120, found online at  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740915001668 Adoption and Beyond. Adoption Statistics, found online at  http://www.adoption-beyond.org/adoption-statistics/ Courtney, M., Dworsky, A., Lee, J., & Raap, M. (2009) Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 23 and 24. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, found online at  http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Midwest_Study_ES_Age_23_24.pdf Sutherland. Institute for Family Studies. How Instability Affects Kids, found online at  https://ifstudies.org/blog/how-instability-affects-kids U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute of Health. Adults physically abused as children not more likely to physically abuse their children, found online at  https://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/Pages/042115-podcast-child-abuse.aspx Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Child Abuse and Neglect: Consequences, found online at  https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/consequences.html


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