It seems like the tumultuous political situation the US has going on right now is constantly flopping back and forth between reproductive rights and immigration rights, leaving us all with no shortage of stress and anxiety while we try to navigate these humanitarian issues among crowds of shrieking people, all angry at each other about things they seem to struggle to understand.
Recently, Olivia Paige turned to Facebook to offer an alternative, in depth perspective to the abortion debate by reflecting on her time spent in the foster care system of the US. She detailed the startling statistics that should lead anyone who favors adoption as a reasonable and rational solution to abortion into considering that we have a very serious adoption/foster care system in need of attention before we contribute to it and significantly increase the already overwhelming, under-funded programs.
She was never adopted.
I debated posting this for a while, I’ve decided to do it because not many people know what it’s really like as a child in the system.
Here goes. (please hold your sad reacts)
I want everyone preaching “Adoption is always an option!” to read this. I know they won’t, but one can hope.
Let me start off by reminding you of the 390,000+ children and teens in foster care, 100,000+ of which are waiting to be adopted. Around 50,000 are placed up for adoption each year - these abortion bans are sure to make those numbers grow so let me share some statistics with you.
20% of teens who age out of foster care become instantly homeless, with no support system in place.
There is less than a 3% chance that any of these kids will obtain any sort of degree.
25% suffer from PTSD.
1 out of every 2 kids will develop substance abuse problems.
Adopted children make up only 2% of children under 18.
What about the rest of them?
I’ll share what it was like for me, one of the lucky ones. Someone who by no means had it easy, but had just enough love and support to make it out alright.
The photo attached is an actual flyer that was handed out to prospective adoptive homes for several years through my teens. I was never adopted.
I spent a decade in foster care, bouncing between “homes” with strangers in places I’d never known before. With no warning, a social worker would show up and tell me I’d have to pack my things (the very few I had) and leave whatever strange place I’d kept myself from getting too comfortable in at the drop of a hat. I had no say in the matter. New school, new unwanted life - overnight.
There was never any telling what the next place would be like.
A few times there were no homes for me or open beds in group homes or youth shelters, so I’d have to sit around or on the floor of a cubicle in the same DCFS building I’d always return to right before my life was complete chaos again, until a home was found. I lived in a few good homes and with family intermittently when I could - but I was also abused both physically and sexually in two separate foster homes and had moved dozens of times by the age of 18.
I watched my foster parents receive checks that were designated to feed and clothe me, and spend them on just about anything else. I was hospitalized at 11 years old due to malnutrition and a swift blow to the head, then lied to the police because I was afraid of what would happen to me if I told the truth about how I got there or why I was covered head to toe in bruises.
I learned that speaking up only creates more problems. So I kept my mouth shut.
I watched a foster parent take in 5 special needs children, and a few months later add a deck, new sunroom and hot tub to her house with money from the state. She later lost her license when it as apparent that she was neglecting these children.
I’ve seen these situations over and over, I’ve also lived them.
I spent ten years feeling unworthy of love, unwanted and waiting for the next bad thing to happen to me. This is just the beginning of it all.
I emancipated out of foster care at the ripe old age of 16, and by 17 I was a legal adult living in my own apartment. That was the first time in 13 years I had my own bed, and it felt like the first time. Fortunately, my life since then has been pretty dandy - unlike the lives of most teens who age out.
Do you know what it’s like to log onto the adoptuskids.org website and see your name and face, year after year?
Knowing that nobody is in your corner. That you have no place to go.
Well, I’m glad you don’t and you never have to.
But those kids you were so adamant about before they were born? A large number of them will.
Are these those “rights” you were talking about?
a life is not saved just by letting it be born.
Not being able to leave your foster home unless escorted by social worker or foster parent?
To be unable to live a normal life?
To be fully unprepared for adulthood with no safety net or support?
This isn’t just *my* reality. This is the reality of hundreds of thousands of children who still face this every day, and the many more who you are signing up for this.
A potential lifetime of loneliness, fear, neglect, worry and heartbreak.
I dare you to say “adoption is always an option” to any of the several tens of thousands who have been waiting patiently for years for someone to come along and give them the chance to define the word “family”.
Forcing mothers to give birth under the guise of some false promise of adoption is wrong, for every party involved. Nobody is forcing you to have an abortion, stop making decisions for others and stay out of other people’s uteruses.
This is the message I am trying to send by sharing my story.
I’ll say it again, I’m one of the lucky ones.
I’m not sharing this because I want sympathy. I don’t need it. But those kids? They do. Their voices are unheard. And soon there will be more out there that your “hopes and prayers” will do nothing for - so please, take action now.
Kids should be in homes with families that truly love them.
If you’re so adamant about kids being born - go through the process and adopt some yourself.
(If you truly believe the point of this post is to say I wish I had been aborted, please stop reading between the lines and finding things that aren’t there. You have missed my point if that’s all you take from this)
Olivia concluded with:
If you want to know how you can help, just ask.
After a lot of positive feedback and encouragement, Olivia also followed the advice of thousands of people who urged her to start a GoFundMe so that she can use her photography skills to help other children.