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by Caryl Harvey

       by Caryl Harvey
(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

I do not like this place I see

This place where they have taken me.

And I would rather stay at home

At home where I can stay alone

Watch TV and stay up late.

I won’t live here. This “here” I hate.


I do not like this mom and dad

They are not mine, they both smell bad.

And I don’t like the things they eat.

Their vegetables and roasted meat

I want to go to Mickey D’s

I want to go there right now, please.


Okay, this place is not so bad

And I am safe but I’m still sad.

I cry for my brother, yes, I do

My cars and my Play Station Two

If I am good, and not so bad,

Can I go to the jail to see my dad?


I like it here. I do. I do.

I like the food and new clothes, too.

I like my shoes. I like my room.

I’m sick of mean. I’m tired of gloom.

I’m sick and tired of feeling bad.

But can we go to the jail and see my dad?


My dad is free. He’s free to see me.

They’re coming to get me as quick as can be.

And in a month, a month or four

He’ll get a house and a car for sure.

We’ll be together. I’m glad! I’m glad.

They’re coming to get me to visit my dad!


My dad couldn’t make it. My dad didn’t show.

I’m mad. And I want everybody to know.

I’ll kick at the kitten. I’ll be bad as I can!

I’ll throw out my vegetables, say “crap” and “damn”

And I’ll make them hate me, I’ll make them feel bad.

As bad as I feel ‘cause I can’t see my dad.


They told me they loved me. I’m glad that I’m here.

They understand kids and they know about fear.

I guess I’ll just stay here until I go home.

I’ll put up with rules and toothbrushes and combs.

I’ll try to be good, though I’m sure that I’ll fail,

Cause my dad might come see me. He got out of jail.


They’re coming this morning. This morning they’ll come

To take me away to a new foster home.

I must be just awful…worth nothing at all.

Does my mom know I’m going? Can my daddy still call?

I know what I’ll do. What I’ll do, here’s the plan:

I’ll never love anyone, ever again.

                 THREE KIDS---THREE VIEWS
                            By Caryl Harvey
I saw his mother in the WalMart pharmacy aisle.
"You know they moved Marvin." she tells me. "He's in Denver."
"Yes," I say.
"I haven't seen him since they took him there."
"Good," I think. I say nothing.
Marvin hasn't been in my home for a year...since they sent him back to his mother for the fourth time. She likes his Social Security checks. She's told a lot of people about them. But she gets tired of Marvin, I think, and decides he isn't worth the effort. So she calls DSS and tells them to take him. Then, a few months later, she decides she wants him again and all hell breaks loose at the foster home. Eventually, he's disrupted.
He's a troubled little kid. He hates his mother. He hates the system. He hates his foster parents. Mostly, though, he hates himself.
"Why doesn't anyone want me?" he asks his caseworker as she drives him away from yet another placement. She cries.
We've all cried for Marvin. And as troubled as he is, as much as his mother has messed with his love, his only remaining option is an RTC ( a residential treatment center) That may be a good thing.
Because unless something changes for Marvin soon, someday he will be the rapist at the other end of the knife. The robber with a stolen gun.
Dennis says he's an alien. He says at night his cheeks glow green. And they may...we haven't checked.
He says aliens eat toothbrushes. We tend to believe him...after all, he's gone through five this week. They just disappear.
Dennis told the kids at school that we have a spaceship launcher in our backyard. They want to see it.
"It's invisible," he tells them. "You can only see it if you are an alien."
Dennis claims to come from Mars, but his worst fear is the red moon of Pluto. It's a world not unlike ours, except everyone here has an evil twin there.
Makes sense to us. After all, how else would you explain the two people you love the most, your parents. acting in such a way as to get you placed in foster care?
It has to be their evil twins. Somehow they've been unleashed on earth. And on him.
He's a cutie. Eight years old and full of mischief. But he's a good kid. He does everything we ask him to. I think he's afraid not to. Afraid that if he does something too wrong, other evil twins will show up. They'll move him again. Maybe this time to a planet on the other side of the universe where his mother can't visit.
Marina is fourteen, and she's pregnant. The baby will come while she's in foster care. That's good, she thinks, because it will be paid for.
And there will be food and clothes for the baby, too. That way, she can spend the money she makes at Safeway on clothes and nice shoes for herself. She loves shoes.
We tell her she should put something away in savings to take care of her and the baby when they are out of the system. She says there is plenty of time for that. Right now she's just a kid in foster care and it's our job to buy her stuff she needs. She's going to spend her money on things she wants. Someday she won't be able to do that.  
Not as much anyway.
But then again, she says, she can always get food stamps.
Which one sees the system clearly? They all do.
Marvin's right, of course. No one wants him. He's too damaged by a system that demands he be sent back to a mother who holds him ransom for his disability checks. Someone should stop that. The bouncing, I mean. I think Marvin could deal with an emotionless, selfish mother. I think he could deal with placement...with a new home and new caretakers and new expectations.
It's the bouncing back and forth that ruins him. It's the false feeling of power that comes over him when his mother calls, and he rages at his foster parents until they dispair of helping him and have him removed. And the feelings of helplessness when he's driven up to another house in another city and meets another waiting family. To Marvin, the system is a faceless, looming monster who punishes kids like him. A monster who ties him to his mother with a rubber cord, then pulls him and pulls him-- away from her. He lives in fear of the day when the monster lets go of him and he snaps back to her. It always does. 
And Dennis is right. The system is full of evil twins. There are lots of us who aren't evil, but we aren't especially powerful either. We can't stop parents from fighting. We can't get drugs off the street, or make moms leave them alone. Good doesn't always triumph over evil. Love doesn't necessarily overcome hate. It's better to be an alien. At least you don't have to take responsibility for the way things turn out here. And if you're really quiet, if you don't make any noise at all, if you curl up in the tiniest of balls and stay there, the system won't know where you are.
But perhaps Marina sees foster care the most clearly. It's a self-perpetuating organism.
If you've been in for a while, you learn. Go with the flow.
If you do poorly in school, it's the system that's to blame. They take you out of class to do UA's and get counseling. The court says you have to visit with your mom twice a week. You can't do homework on those nights, It's expecting too much. So the system sees to it you get an IEP and the school modifies your classes.
And there's always money. Someone will pay. After all, the system owes you for removing you in the first place. You're a victim, right? Of course right.
Three kids. Three views of the same animal. The system isn't perfect. We aren't either. But we're all that stands between these kids and the things that are wrong. We can't always change the way the system acts, but we can show kids the human side of it. We can provide a soft place for the bouncing child to land. We can find a way to give just a bit of power back to a visiting alien, and we can help stop kids from becoming people-users by not being enablers ourselves. By holding them accountable.
We are not evil twins. WE ARE WHAT'S RIGHT WITH THE SYSTEM.

"Turn that down," my mother yelled one afternoon. I was watching cartoons, trying to drown out the teen voices by raising the volume higher and higher.

"I said, turn that down!"

"Well, if you would shut the hell up, I could hear the damn TV," I said.

My mother and her friends burst out laughing.

That's a quote from a book by a former foster child interviewed on Good Morning America. Her book is called "Three Little Words," and recounts the horrors of her life in foster care. She was in 14 different homes. One of them was abusive.

That's all it took. It was FOSTER CARE HELL.

Okay, maybe she should have never been taken from her teenaged mother. But she admits there was no adult supervision. She recalls falling out of her mother's car because she wasn't belted in and being beaten by her mother's boyfriend. And mom was a good cook...of dope, that is.

 I read today about twelve kids in Colorado who died because DSS didn't respond to complaints and never removed these children from their abusive parents. So which is it? Should they err on the side of caution, or on the side of parental and civil rights?

Children see things differently than adults. They hear them differently, too.

We say "You may have no more than half an hour of video games a night."

They hear, "You are guaranteed 30 minutes of uninterrupted video game playing come hell or high water...every night. "

So is it any wonder that kids have a skewed version of foster care?

That they make false allegations?

That they see everyone BESIDES their parents as the enemy?

But the parents know better.

And so would the public if it would take the time to research foster care. If they would pay less attention to the sensationalists...the tabloid journalism.

Maybe the foster care system is broken. It certainly is not perfect. BUT DO YOU HAVE A BETTER SOLUTION?

There are currently about 550,000 kids in foster care. Kids who have been removed from unsafe conditions. Kids who--if left in their own homes---might not survive until next year. Where would you put them?