40 years of faulty wiring

5 Stupid Questions to ask Former Foster Care Survivors

Most questions that come into my head automatically don’t appear to be on the list that I read in the blog The Top 5 Stupid Questions that SUK to ask Someone who Grew Up in Foster Care. In all fairness, it tends to be young people who ask seemingly stupid questions, since they aren’t experienced enough to come to their own reasonably sensible conclusion. However I admit I have my own list of stupid questions I might have asked a FFC (former foster care) person questions such as:

  1. What happened in your family that you were forced to enter the foster care system?
  2. How old were you?
  3. How long were you in foster care?
  4. How many homes were you fostered in?
  5. Were there any good families in your experience?
  6. How long did you stay at one home before being moved again?
  7. Did anyone every explain to you that this wasn’t your fault?
  8. How has this experience shaped your life?

Here is my reasoning for these stupid questions:

  1. Some families can heal and to an extent, reunite.
  2. Sometimes a person who survived foster care needs to ask her or his biological parents all the questions they have about why and how they ended up there themselves, rather than being told by an agency.
  3. A former foster child might want to know her or his parent’s childhood and personal background. This information could answer a lot of questions.
  4. Confrontation might be therapeutic.  Sometimes anger needs to be expressed.
  5. Affirmation that unfit parents were the reason the former foster child was placed in foster care, and not anything that person did.
  6. Information for legal action of any sort.
  7. Knowledge about family genealogy in terms of disorders, diseases, etc.

Of course these issues can only be dealt with assuming a former foster child can find his or her parents, and assuming that this person wants to correspond with them. It isn’t a suggestion. It’s merely a question.

The main points of this blog were very poignant. The Top 5 Stupid Questions and blatant answers include:

  1. what did you do to get in there?  Seriously. The answer emphasizes people’s belief in myths about foster care children.
  2. why weren’t you adopted? How would the FFC know that? And what an embarrassing issue to discuss.
  3. how many foster homes did you have? This one I only realized since reading this blog is a stupid question. However, there are people who claim to know the precise number of foster homes they entered.
  4. were the homes good? Most foster homes are not and recalling abusive experiences is traumatic for people. I might have asked a similar question (did you have any good experiences) because many FFC people have had the good luck to be placed with good caregivers.
  5. do you see your real parents now?  This was the second question I might have asked, in all honesty, for the reasons listed above.

One can assume that foster care was a very difficult experience. I met a girl who mentioned in an offhand way that she just got out of foster care some months ago and she had an angry phone call with her real mother. That told me everything I needed to know. I could feel the hurt and anger around her. I didn’t need to ask something stupid such as what her mother did to necessitate her being placed in foster care (even though I did list that as a question in my personal list of stupid questions). For one thing, it wasn’t my damned business. For another, hearing her voice and seeing her tense look told me everything I might have needed to know: No, it wasn’t a good experience.

Let’s leave it at that.


October 11, 2012 Posted by | Bizarre yet True, corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Human psychology | , , , , , | 2 Comments

John – the Other Side of Beth Thomas

One person I have completely and unintentionally ignored in the Beth Thomas saga is her brother, John.  John had to survive abuse from two family members: his father and his sister.  I will word this blog very carefully so as not to have any misunderstanding: I sympathize with Beth, a child of 3 who was horribly abused by her own father after her mother’s death.  She learned the horrible things she did to herself, her brother and her step-parents. Both children were victims and both children suffered. To quote Rudyard Kipling, a male survivor of childhood abuse and author of the Jungle Book, children accept “what comes to them…as eternally established.” watch how is emotional blindness created

Child literature has long documented authors’ experiences as abused children. Fairytales and folktales use socially acceptable metaphors, wicked witches and ogres, the way a child views an abusive, powerful parent, as the hero’s sources of evil. The stories reveal where the author’s “imaginative” perspective originates; it isn’t imagination at all but reality that shapes these stories, plots and characters. Kipling’s Jungle Book and its characters are proof of his own suffering. The abuser is disguised as Sheer Khan, the dreaded tiger who wishes to “devourMowgli. Khan is the woman who devoured Kipling’s childhood.

A very telling conversation takes place between the tiger and Mowgli, revealing an abused child’s wisdom that no matter how society protects the abuser it cannot conceal the truth from the child. “Can it be that you don’t know who I am?” smirks the tiger.  “I know who you are alright,” says Mowgli.  So did John and Beth. watch the jungle book – final battle

John was an infant during the trauma he experienced from his father and a toddler during Beth’s enraged attacks. He is an adult now. I wonder what happened in his psychological development as he matured. Did he also overcome his traumatic beginning? Did he learn to trust his step-parents?  Beth was abused because she was small and powerless.  For that reason, she learned to abuse her brother, who was smaller and less powerful than herself. Did he hate his sister? Did he believe Beth hated him? No one will ever know.  At first, John was adopted by good people yet they were people so traumatized by their experience with Beth, they felt they had to defend their decision to relinquish her. watch Alfred hitchcock – hitch Hike

David Pelzer’s experience, the “child called It,” and his mother’s “target child” (himself), is considered “one of the worst documented cases of child abuse in California history.” He became a troubled youth, broke the law, went into juvenile detention, associated with the wrong kids, was transferred among numerous foster homes, unable to trust or love, unwanted and rejected. Today he is a motivational speaker and author of several autobiographies and other publications that inspire youth to love and respect themselves and above all, never to fear the truth. In spite of his miraculous recovery, Pelzner’s life centers around his abusive past. He has never gotten over it, he is still processing and trying to understand it, even if he has learned to deal with it from a positive perspective. This is known as lifelong healing. At the same time, David Pelzer, like Beth Thomas, is living proof that it is possible to overcome the impossible life of a horribly abused childhood.  watch david pelzer on larry king 

I hope John’s story is the same.

July 13, 2012 Posted by | corrruption, Crime and Punishment, Education, Human psychology, Reflections, Relationships | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments