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What are some ways we can eradicate the stigma attached to kids in foster care?

Posted in Child Care on 7th January 2011

What are some ways we can eradicate the stigma attached to kids in foster care?
Until people spent time around my son, they immediately assumed he must be “severely damaged”, potentially dangerous and a whole host of unflattering adjectives. And he is only 2… and he was adopted. I can’t imagine the black smear that follows older children, particularly children that end up aging out of foster care. Many times I will talk to people about their fears, but actually I would prefer they just get to know him, through play dates with their children, etc. However, that is not always enough. Parents at my son’s development center look at him with suspicion despite the fact that he’s never done anything to warrant it, besides typical 2 year old behaviour. But “foster care” is like a scarlet letter. I am also wary of making my son a poster child for foster care. I want to educate, but at the same time, I don’t want him to be a project or put on display. I want a normal, happy childhood for him, but I also feel a responsibility, as a mother of a child adopted from foster care, to do something to lessen the stigma. If not just for him then for people who might be considering adopting, but would never have thought of foster care. We were that couple once. If it weren’t for friends of ours we would never have considered it, simply because of some misconceptions.

Any ideas would be welcome.

Best answer(s):

Answer by Leon D
Seeing is believing, and I think that showing people how kids in foster care are exactly the same as any other random kid is what is needed to removed the stigma.

Perhaps a video case study?

Answer by Anjel
Talk to his daycare.Tell them how you feel and how important it is that they help instead of making it worse.can you change daycare’s and not tell the new place.Maybe wait to tell people until he is older.This could cause damage to his self esteem.I know children can change.I have 2 kids in my care who were in foster care.I take them to church with our family and I have seen a huge growth in them.

Answer by sweetjane
Hi Kazi,

Unfortunately, people will believe what they assume until there is evidence to prove them wrong. Since few people who believe that foster children are inherently ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ have any association with the foster care system, they are going off of what other people have said or assumed about foster children.
People who raise happy, healthy, intelliegent foster children have no need to complain about their children, while people who have one bad experience tell everyone about how awful their foster child was. Unfortunately, they speak louder and more often than we do. Even when people do say and think positive things about your child, generally, they don’t go around telling their friends and family that they should adopt through foster care…..nope, your child “MUST” be the exception to all the ‘psychopaths’ in foster care.
I think your child should be who he is and shouldn’t have to prove anything to others….but I KNOW that some people will unconciously ‘use’ him to justify or counteract their feelings about adoption/foster care. All you can do is be his mommy and love him and support him. While it IS your job to teach others about the many advantages of adoption through foster care, it is NOT your job to make them see foster children from a new perspective. Unfortunately, if they choose to feel that way, no amount of talking to them and no perfectly behaved child is going to change their opinions. There ARE people who don’t know about foster care adoption and who will genuinely want to know more. Obviously, that isn’t the case for the people who look at your child with suspicion for no reason. They have already made their ‘decision’ and there is little to nothing you can do to change that.

Answer by tattooedgemini
unfortunately the stigma is there because so many of the kids in foster care do have baggage and issues that cause them difficulty. it doesn’t make them bad kids but it does make it more of a challange to raise them in many cases(like ours) even a young child can be effected. it would be unfair to teach potential a parents that the kids would not come with baggage because they may end up in over thier heads. as for daycares though, i don’t think that they should really be looking at the child differently.

Answer by Yarr
Well, I’ve seen lots of adopted people blame their problems (drug abuse, mental illnesses, psycological issues, etc.) on the fact that they were adopted. That is probably a large part of the stigma (irony!). If adoptees themselves say they have drug abuse problems and whatnot BECAUSE they were given up for adoption of course people are going to think adopted kids are more prone to be messed up.

Answer by Wundt
I agree that people have to see it with their own eyes before they overcome that prejudice.

Before we adopted, we had many people, most of them family members, who tried to warn us off adopting through foster care. Some of lack of support was very surprising and hurtful. Happily, since the adoption, all of them have come around after meeting and spending time with our sons.

Just keep changing minds one person at a time.

Answer by Sofiakat
I truly believe that if the kids in foster care were treated with the same fairness, dignity, and respect other kids are treated with, the stigma would not be as bad. When i was in grade school, it was very easy to pick out the foster kids from the class just by their appearance…second hand ill fitting clothing, tattered clothes, old shoes…etc. Even as a child I new this was wrong. And if they had an out burst in class, there was NO level of understanding from the teacher.
Education of teachers, tighter rules on foster parents, and more funding to foster care is what is needed imo.
many teachers were actually surprised that my kids were foster kids because they were well dressed. How sad is that…

Answer by tappler24
I was a fosterkid who was never adopted, and yes these kids go through alot of problems simply because caseworkers lie to them, and say they will eventually go back with their families even though it never actually happens. So think about being pulled away from your family to be with strangers the rest of your childhood life. Some basically use you as a paycheck when they can’t pay the bills. The stigma is there for a reason the kids are being lied to and not loved no wounder bad behavior is amoungst them. Good things do come out of fostercare but it is few, and far between.