Five years ago, my wife and I had two Haitian teenagers live with us for two years as foster children or as we called it – godchildren and they called us godparents. They were siblings with the boy being 16 and the girl 14 at the time. We made every attempt to treat them as our kids and looking back on the experience 5 years later we still have a great relationship with them and still view them as part of our family. However, it was not an an easy experience for any of us, but that is a story for another day. As my wife and I got to know the foster care system it was rather depressing.

When we were approached about becoming foster parents we were told we had to have a home visit to make sure our house was appropriate. The person came and said they were kind of embarrassed because she was supposed to open our fridge to make sure it worked, turn on the stove, try the faucets, flush the toilets, etc. She also had a measuring tape to measure whether the bedrooms allowed something like 12 square feet per kid. I was amazed and shocked as I had no idea that they would have to go to this level to qualify foster homes. She said that I would be amazed at how bad some of the places are where people want to be foster parents. It was clear that for many people, this was a way to get income. On the bright side, we met many wonderful and committed foster parents which made up for the terrible ones we also met. The social workers were either young and energetic and willing to “save the world” – of course they tended to burn out quickly or older and jaded and just punching the clock. I don’t blame them as after seeing the entire system, I was jaded after just a short peek at it. Our social worker told us that our “son” was the only teenage male she knew of in foster care who had not been arrested. So clearly the system is failing on multiple fronts. I don’t know what the solution is as we were so burned out after two years of exposure to the system. What is sad is that hundreds of thousands of kids enter this system and few make it out as productive adults.