Why the “Foster-Care-at-All-Costs” Crowd Will Never Surrender Their Horror Stories

Imagine the following scenario: A child is taken from her parents. When child protective services decides to reunify the family the foster parents object. They wage a fierce fight, but they lose. Sometime later, the

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Richard Wexler
About Richard Wexler 51 Articles
Richard Wexler is Executive Director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, www.nccpr.org. His interest in child welfare grew out of 19 years of work as a reporter for newspapers, public radio and public television. During that time, he won more than two dozen awards, many of them for stories about child abuse and foster care. He is the author of Wounded Innocents: The Real Victims of the War Against Child Abuse (Prometheus Books: 1990, 1995).


  1. There are a LOT of factual inaccuracies in this article. For starters, the woman who adopted Grace and later killed her wasn’t her foster mother at the time of the murder, she was her legal, adoptive mother. The previous “boyfriend” who raped children was actually the mother’s husband.

  2. This is how the system works, and it’s pretty much a parallel with our judicial/criminal system: The guilty too often go free, and the innocent are punished. The cause is the same; i.e., overenthusiastic knee-jerkers who make decisions based on hearsay and emotion rather than real facts and evidence. Via the parlor game inherent in these systems, the hearsay and emotion are given weight, and the truth is omitted or suppressed on some technicality. I have seen children removed from good birth parents at the drop of a hat. I have seen bad birth parents be given chance after chance. And as a 13-plus year veteran of the foster care system, I learned that everybody is messed up, every family is dysfunctional, and that when you are a foster child, you will end up belonging nowhere. I entered the system at the age of 4-1/2 with a murdered mother and an incarcerated father. I was briefly fostered within my mother’s family, but their own problems sent me out into care by strangers shortly after I turned 6. With a deceased mother and a father serving four life sentences (and no family able to take me in), the State still refused to force my father into letting me be adopted, consigning me to a life of abuse and instability. The foster care system in which I grew up was akin to child trafficking, and it is a huge and continuing problem. While I’m sure that there are good families out there, the situations are too insular to effectively monitor, especially with the shortage of social workers — in fact, there were several years where I didn’t even have an assigned social worker; so when I was being sexually abused as a teen, I had to call the general DHSS number and wait for someone to get back to me. A lot of children live in bad biological homes; but the system is failing enormously by taking children and putting them in dangerous homes. The foster care system DOES NOT WORK. Had I been more informed when I aged out of foster care, I would have sued my state for neglect and abuse. Years later, I called to see if I could obtain a copy of my file, only to find out that after five years, they are destroyed. Given how early I entered foster care and how long I was in the system, this was the most important record of my life; and it was disposed of like a title to a junked vehicle.

  3. join us….grandparents and parents of matanuska valley…..we are working hard to reunite our loved ones…

  4. Yes, and the stories keep piling up…our children are gone…they used criminal history to take them…all the way back to twenty years ago…:( we miss our babies….:(

  5. Pretty nicely put Richard.

    I am totally in agreement that child deaths should not be used to deploy ideological positions on family preservation or child protection.

    I am glad that you brought this story to light. It is unfortunate that in arguing against using child deaths to make a point about ideological disposition, you did just that.

    I am looking forward to your moratorium.

    • I said *mutual* moratorium – As I said in the column, I’m not going to unilaterally disarm. A mutual moratorium would require that, for example, opponents of differential response not cite the death of a child who was not even in a “differential response” track in an oped attacking differential response: http://bit.ly/2jyjo8d But who would ever do something like that?

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