Freedom of Speech - Should Adoption and Foster Care be Excluded?
by Laurie Frisch
When childrens welfare is at stake and tax dollars are
being spent, the media must ignore experts that attempt
to silence or slant the news.
Marion, IA (PRWEB) October 4, 2004 -- Following the tragic Jackson
family story out of New Jersey, Adam Pertman, executive director
of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, wrote that media coverage
of stories involving adopters who adopt as a source of income and
then neglect and abuse the children blurs the success
of the foster care and adoption system.
Perhaps the most fundamental right we have in United States is
the right to freedom of speech. Without this right our other rights
will soon crumble. In the area of foster care and adoption, far
more news coverage is desirable, not less. Not only does adoption
and foster care represent a significant chunk of our tax dollars
but childrens welfare is at stake. Like any business, the
people running the system try to grow their business
every year, processing more and more children. What a strange objective
for a country that is so wealthy and supposedly free - to get as
many children out of their homes as possible, targeting citizens
who are less affluent and less able to defend themselves.
The truth about the outcome of foster care and adoption is hidden
by various means. Statistics lump adopter abuse with other parental
abuse, making it appear that it is only natural parents who abuse.
The media, cautioned not to stigmatize adopters, misleads
readers by reporting that it was parents rather than
adopters that neglected or abused a child. Social workers
have immunity from prosecution for their errors.
Maddeningly, when the media does report a story of horrendous abuse
by foster or adoptive caregivers, those in the system
insist that the problem is a lack of resources, using their own
incompetence as the basis for a request for even more of our tax
dollars. Thus the only accountability is to be rewarded with additional
funding. If you were the child that was removed from your family,
given to strangers and then starved, beaten, molested or tied up
in a basement how would you feel about this? How would you feel
if you were the parent and had been trying for years to find a way
to get your child back?
Whenever a child is neglected or abused while she is in the system
or adopted, the media should assess the circumstances from which
a child was taken against the outcome of succeeding placements
- and interview the natural family and others rather than trust
exclusively the cleverly worded accusations of social workers and
others in the system. If the original problem was poverty, the media
should assess the economic impact to the community of keeping the
child in her own family compared with foster and/or adoptive situations.
People are horrified when they see news footage of children taken
from the only parents theyve ever known
to be returned to their parents following a prolonged court battle.
Yet social workers remove children suddenly and traumatically from
their true parents every day. Then they continue to move them from
placement to placement, increasing the trauma and the likelihood
of abuse. Even if the foster caregivers are kind and decent people,
they may be raising other children who are hurting, jealous and
cruel. How many fostered kids recount how quickly they learned not
If a child is being very badly abused in his own home then intervention
is warranted. But social workers now take children from their homes
on the basis of reports of mild abuse, mild neglect or even just
the threat of harm meaning absolutely no abuse or neglect
is even alleged. Children may be removed from their homes or taken
directly from school without parents knowledge.
The reports of abuse or neglect do not have to be substantiated
in advance and the means of substantiating them may be questionable.
The use of leading questions and other means to get a child to describe
abuse that never took place is one method of substantiating
abuse. Another method is denying a parent any contact with her child
unless she signs some paperwork. Pitting one parent against another
in a divorce situation or just using the divorce situation itself
as a reason for child removal may occur. If a child has been abused
while in custody of one parent, just at a moment when the child
most needs comfort and security of the remaining parent, she is
torn away and given to strangers.
Social workers it seems have no other tools to handle a situation
other than removal of a child. Perhaps even worse, when they make
the same accusations against every parent, making every case appear
equally dangerous, they may contribute to judges sending children
back to parents who are truly unfit.
When a law sounds innocuous like the Adoption and Safe Families
Act of 1997 does, it may be the opposite - unsafe for families and
even worse, unsafe for children. The constant promotion of adoption
benefits promoters but it is not being done for children.
Now that we have federal adoption bonuses for the adoption of children
in foster care, have the children originally in the system gotten
adopted? Has the overall number of children in the system gone down?
How often is the youngest adoptable child taken from
her home while social workers show little interest in the older
children? Now that courts can sever parental rights for no reason
after a child has been kept in the system for a relatively short
time, how frequently are court proceedings delayed by lawyers and
others? When enough time has passed a parent may be proven innocent
of child abuse and drug abuse yet her parental rights will be terminated
When those in the system claim they either try to reunite families
or get the kids adopted, this does not mean that they try to reunite
families. Few cute little adoptable children are given
the hope of reunification with their own family although some more
difficult children may be permitted to go home. As with many situations
where no real choice is presented, children may find their only
chance at permanency is adoption with complete separation from siblings,
grandparents and parents.
The media should investigate whether legislators and others they
are interviewing about adoption and foster care will profit from
the removal or adoption of children or whether they have ties to
When the press is advised by experts to suppress or
slant a news story, when officials say they want to protect the
system instead of the children, that is the time for
the media to move in for a closer investigation. What citizens dont
know affects children in a significant way. What they dont
know costs them billions in misspent tax dollars. What they dont
know may prevent them from making any decisions for their own children
Suggested Reading: Adoption and Safe Families
Act Tears Family Apart - The tragic story of how one mother's
youngest "adoptable" daughter was taken by CPS. After
the mother proved herself to be a "fit" parent, her parental
rights were terminated anyway, helping the state to meet it's quota
of children adopted from foster care..
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Mothers and Adoptees Views on Adoption