A favorite memory as a new CASA guardian ad Litem I remember an adorable 4 year old girl jumping up and down in her new mother’s van singing “I’m being adopted, I’m being adopted” with a giant smile and excitement of a high energy child – it brings tears to my eyes.
Decades of CASA guardian ad Litem work for the County have made clear the screaming need State Ward children have for loving families and the lack we have of them. Especially older State Wards. This article is about LGBT adoptions and critical issues facing foster children and the families seeking to adopt them.
There never will be enough safe and loving foster or adoptive homes for terrified children passing through child protective services. We can only try to make things less painful and disconnected for abused and neglected children.
Recent American immigration politics have shined a light on how uncaring we can be to other people’s children.
Far too many children, especially older children with trauma induced behavior’s, bounce from foster homes and group homes to aging out of foster care without mental health services, lacking coping skills, no permanent ties to any family and no personal bond with a caring adult.
Statistically, this final abandonment happens for most State Ward children – 80% of youth aging out of foster care lead dysfunctional lives.
Imagine yourself at six or seven being raped, beaten, starved or otherwise traumatized by your birth family.
Statistically, the oldest child suffers 4 years of torture. Then, if you are lucky, the torture stops once you are removed from the only home you have ever known, to a group home or foster home and a cold and overburdened court system that does what it can with the resources it has to keep you safe.
Before I became a CASA guardian ad Litem and came to know hundreds of people with these experiences, all this was unimaginable.
The impact trauma has on a child and the profound behavior changes that make adolescence and adulthood almost unbearable unless ACEs healing and adequate resources become available.
Fostering a State Ward child is no easy task.
How do you unteach sex or drugs to an eight year old? What happens in the birth home is hard wired in as normal. It takes a level of compassion, patience and tolerance unknown to the average human being.
Some of us are simply not candidates for this trying task no matter how much we want to help.
Very few of us know the depth and scope of child abuse in America today;
37% of American children are reported to child protective services by their 18th birthday. This sad statistic stems from the exponential growth of the issue due to decades of political failure to address the problem, epigenetics and a punishment policy orientation that is ruining our nations quality of life.
By most quality of life measurements America is no longer competitive. Our public schools, public health and public safety are all suffering because unhealthy children don’t do well in school and are much more likely to lead dysfunctional lives, be involved in crime and make our communities unsafe. America is now the leader in prison populations with the highest cost of crime data among the industrialized nations.
If more of us knew the compelling stories, sadness and data traumatized children have, maybe we would make more of an effort to effort to respect and support people doing the work. We will never have enough people with the courage, patience, skill and desire to heal, teach, adopt and foster these poor kids so we should be extremely grateful when they appear.
My experience with dozens of foster and adoptive families includes multiple lessons of how caring, tuned in and patient gay couples are with their troubled State Ward children. LGBT parents know a lifetime of being different, understand self loathing and being treated badly by others and they know first hand the kind of pain and suffering abused and neglected children live with every day.
If you know gay friends you know this. If you know State Ward children you know the behavior problems they bring to your family and the levels of difficulty and danger this entails – and you know how hard parenting these children can be.
The gay couples I know have demonstrated extra sensitivity, patience, tolerance and commitment parenting abandoned children – they know how these kids perceive the world because LGBT people know what that’s like.
So when Utah Judge Scott Johansen removed a foster child from a lesbian couple for no other reason than that they were gay, the child suffers, the parenting couple suffers and the community suffers.
When Illinois and Boston Catholic Charities used religion as a weapon (just one of many religious organizations placing dogma over the life of a child) to stop adoption services altogether – abandoning all children rather than comply with state laws they caused immense and unnecessary suffering to thousands of families and children.
Gay marriage and adoption are legal in every state in our nation but perpetually challenged by states and religious organizations.
Using religion as a tool to interrupt adoptions and fostering by GLBT people is heartless and destructive.
Yea to churches supporting their congregations foster and adoptive parenting and the medical professions commandment to “do no harm”.
Kids raised by same- sex couples do better in school
All Adults Are the Protectors of All Children
KARA has been reporting and speaking on critical issues impacting abused and neglected children for many years.
This article submitted by long time CASA guardian ad Litem Mike Tikkanen
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