I spent National Adoption Awareness Month (November) trying to understand more about the workings of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
I kept hoping there would be a great story. I anxiously awaited former foster youths to tell me, ‘Foster care made such a positive impact on my life.’ Or a caseworker to tout the efforts their county has gone to in order to serve vulnerable families. I want to hear a foster parent tell me, ‘DSS has been phenomenal. They have gone above and beyond to help these children.’
I wish that was the case.
But, as it turns out, a foster child who makes it out of this broken system and into the world as a functional adult seems to do so in spite of the system. And reality is that it is nothing short of miraculous when foster children become anything other than a frightening statistic, void of healthy family connections.
Caseworkers that genuinely seem to care about the kids move on to other jobs instead of fighting illogical policies and policy makers, too burned out to continue.
I want to blame some person or some entity for the current catastrophic state of failure that I see permeating from social services. A government system that desperately needs to be a well-run, well-oiled machine has a wrench in the gears.
The solution is simultaneously hugely complex and annoyingly simple. We, the grown-up populace, are going to have to choose to sacrifice emotional comfort. On the very simple side, it is purely a numbers game and the odds are clearly on the side of the family-less child.
Reigning in our complex emotions is hard. We don’t want to be annoyed, irritated, inconvenienced, or hurt. We have no intention of purposefully putting ourselves in positions of difficulty. And fostering or adopting can put an emotional strain on the most stable of adults.
Getting past the emotional complexity is going to have to be a choice. At some point, if this (or any) crisis is to be solved, we must choose to put ourselves into a state of inconvenience. We must choose to lose our ego to a larger cause. We must exchange our faineant existence for others’ needs. Not because our life depends on it, but because someone else’s does.We must learn what sacrifice really means, and it isn’t giving up your soy latte on Saturday.
The simple solution is us. The functional adult members of society. The non-felonious, hard-working, responsible, human, grown-ups. We can fix this.
Population of foster youths waiting for adoption in America: 110,000
Population of adults in America: 242,542,976
Based on purely numbers, all I see is an easily fixable problem. Even if only half of the adults in our country are appropriate parents, that gives us 121,271,488. In fact, we only need about one twentieth of one percent of the adult population in America to adopt one child.