Foster Care Reform


I know it’s been a while since I’ve spoken about foster care or adoption on this blog. There are some sensitive issues Sarabeth and I are battling with the system, and we’re longing for change.

I know I bemoan politicians and warn us against putting our hope and faith in them, but I’m proud to say that I stand behind our state of Kentucky’s governor Matt Bevin (@MattBevin). Even if you’re not in Kentucky, I have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot from him in the coming years.

He and his wife attempted to adopt years ago, and after going through the tedious and long process of classes and paperwork and on and on and on, they were eventually denied a placement because they had too many kids already (five). So the 8,000 kids in foster care did not drop down to 7,999 that day.

Governor Bevin, in a recent interview, has not only vowed to reform foster care in the state of Kentucky, but to set the model for the rest of the country to follow. I can honestly say that his views and options are my own.

Everything from the system needs a complete makeover. From race being no issue, money being spent in the wrong places, the slow and torture of leaving kids in limbo in the system, to the damaging effects reunification can cause.

The system is broken, and because of that, we have a lot of people who want to foster-to-adopt but are afraid to try. I don’t blame them. But the problem that causes is that more kids end up growing up without a safe childhood with a good family, and I blame the court, I blame the government, and ultimately, I blame us.

We see these problems such as the broken foster care system, the insurance industry robbing us blind, animal abuse, and on and on, but WE THE PEOPLE just leave it to the government to fix.

Even Bevin says that’s a bad idea and nothing will get fixed this way.

We consider our heavy lifting going to the polls every 2-4 years and punching a hole in a ballot.

Yay. We contributed.

And most of the time we don’t even know who or what we’re voting for. We just vote according to our affiliated party, which is like getting bad pizza at a place closer to home rather than driving the extra ten minutes for better pizza.

I’d take the long drive and the good pizza any day.

What are you passionate about? What would you like to see change? And finally, what are you doing about it?

Here’s the interview. I loved every minute of it. #FosterCareReform

And if Matt Bevin ever wanted me to come work for him, I’d do it in a heartbeat.


About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

17 Responses to Foster Care Reform

  1. mbman says:

    It seems that broken child welfare systems are the norm for at least a good chunk of North America. Though I have anecdotes from close to home (Manitoba), I see bits and pieces from all over the place. And those are usually just the absolute WORST ones.

    I don’t know how the Europeans are doing, but I suspect an F– would be a charitable grade for our systems.

    • Andrew Toy says:

      Yes, pretty much. It’s hard to find anything that’s currently being done RIGHT in the system. For one, I don’t think the government should be apart of foster care as that’s what seems to slow everything down so much. I’m not sure if it’s a valid complaint, though. Make foster care its own entity outside of government control? Why not?

      • mbman says:

        Its a hard question.

        I am inclined to think that a government hand is necessary in the situation. Its a slippery slope to let the market dictate. The private prison system comes to mind. While not directly applicable, when making a buck is the goal, who knows what schemes could be drawn up.

        Some hybrid of the 2, I would think. Something with the efficacy of the private sector combined with the regulations of government to keep outside motives and bias’s in check.

      • mbman says:

        I may trigger any presant libratarians or anarchists, but frankly, I don’t care 🙂 .

        We know what happens with both theories in practice (at least in pure form). And it ain’t pretty.

  2. One of the biggest things that needs to happen is changing the adoption tax credit into a refundable credit, as very few people actually benefit from it because you have to have a tax liability at the end of the year to even get it. Along with that there needs to be some way to deduct adoption expenses on your taxes every year instead of waiting until it finalizes, along with adoption expenses still being tax deductible if your program closes. We’ve spent $18,000 towards adoption only to find the out the country has suspended all adoptions and so we are simply out of luck and out of money. The foster care system is also a nightmare – we actually went to DHS here in Oregon at the very beginning of our attempts to build a family and they told us that if we got pregnant that we would not be able to keep the child because they only want the attention on one kid… Which of course made no sense as there are tons of kids going into families which have little ones… They actually told us we would be a “red flag” if we try to do any fertility treatments while we had a foster kid. And the lady who was beginning our home study who had told us this also was very open about how bad the agency was at accounting and that we’d have to make sure that they paid us correctly! We were so dumbfounded that we put the process on hold and started the international adoption process (which I mentioned was just closed – it was for the country of Ethiopia), along with do a few rounds of IVF before we stopped trying on that end. After all that we went to DHS to try to reopen our application and they said we have to start all over again – new background checks, 6 new letters of reference, new coursework, etc., as they don’t bother to keep applications on file that were put on hold… This is at the same time they are dealing with a major scandal with what’s happening to the children in the system. So we told them to forget it and are pursuing private domestic adoption (considering they charge the same amount to go through Boys & Girls Aid as they do to go through a private agency). I’m constantly blown away at how bureaucracy and cost (I’ve heard some agencies are charging as much as $60,000 to adopt a child… The one we’re going through charges about $30,000, which is a terrifying amount as it is) has let down so many children in this country and in the world at large.

    I know some people were asking about Europe and other countries, and the systems seem to be broken in a lot of countries unfortunately. My husband is from Australia and there it takes anywhere between 7 and 10 years to adopt. That being said overall as a country they take much better care of their citizens, from health care to the disabled, and pay a living wage to the people taking care of them (my husband worked in DHS in Australia for 16 years and made a great salary taking care of the developmentally disabled).

  3. What I would like to change is the reason why foster care is needed in the first place. There are too many babies being born to people who are not ready to be parents or maybe they didn’t realize all the responsibility that came with having a child. And the addictions to drugs and alcohol are a major problem in the foster care system. In other words, I’d like to eliminate the need for foster care as much as possible. However, I don’t know what to do about it.

    • Andrew Toy says:

      Are you proposing cancelling out foster care altogether so that babies/kids go straight to a “forever home” (that term is so cheesy) after being revoked?

      • No, I probably didn’t explain it right. I’m thinking more of eliminating the need for foster care to begin with… so people only have children that they want and can take care of and will take responsibility for so children never have to be taken away from their parents. I guess strengthening parents and making sure people understand the responsibility of having a child.

        • Andrew Toy says:

          Yes, but even all of the education in the world won’t cause people to be responsible, unfortunately. There will always be unsafe sex and drug use and neglect.

  4. J.Aaron says:

    I fostered for a long time and eventually ended up adopting two boys. My biggest struggle was getting help, if your struggling with some issues it’s so hard to get ppl to listen or do anything. Fostering is really hard in my opinion. Their are some really amazing families out there doing it. Volunteer to be a mentor at a group home and it will open your eyes to a whole new reality.

  5. helengirl11 says:

    I have been in foster care and now adopted

  6. acewizard says:

    I don’t live in the US, but your foster care system sounds very similar to ours (South Africa). The criteria needed to be met before a child becomes adoptable is ridiculous, meaning they spend their their entire childhoods in foster care and never know the peace of having a permanent family. I’m pretty certain if the US manages to reform their system, South Africa will follow eventually. So I’ll be routing for your Governor Bevin as well 😊

  7. I’d like to see foster care professionalized. In other words, foster parenting being an actual job rather than a volunteer position. Social workers get paid, doctors get paid, daycare providers get paid, teachers get paid. Does getting paid mean they don’t care about children? No, of course not. But if a foster parent gets paid, then they are “doing it for the wrong reasons.”

    The hard truth is that kids in foster care often need a whole lot more time and attention. They have emotional issues that require special parenting. They have difficult behaviors that foster parents need to manage. They have education issues that mean foster parents are going to IEP meetings, talking with teachers regularly, tutoring, and more. Foster parents take kids to tons of appointments – doctor, physical therapist, counselor, special education, visits with their parents, visits with social workers, visits with lawyers, visits court appointed special advocates.

    As a foster parent, I want to dedicate more time to these kids. They need it. They deserve it. But I have to work a full time job. If we treated foster parents like professionals and paid them for all the work they do, foster kids would be better off.

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