As the opioid crisis continues to spread we have a new type of orphan-the opioid orphans. These poor kids are transferred to foster homes, grandparents and various places within our ever-expanding system of social care. Why? It’s not just their parents to blame (as we have seen in the Purdue Pharma lawsuit) it’s also the American system of adoption. It’s time we take a strong look at how we as Americans are subsequently allowing a wall between a familial future for these kids through our costly state laws.
An average adoption costs $43,000 and takes 6 months to several years depending on circumstances. The horror stories of people’s anguish in losing their adoption, having to literally return kids and never getting an adoption processed after years are very true. Yet, American hospitals allow thousands of kids to go home to dangerous homes when mothers test positive for drugs at birth. Just a quick review of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services will shock you to the bone. A recent study found 102 children killed by their families were investigated prior to the murders (yes, that’s what it is). These instances alone should be motivation for us to call our state representatives to protect kids and give them a better life. Wait, it gets worse.
Each state has its own war with opioids, some better off than others. There were approximately 40,000 new foster care cases in the US in 2016 costing states around $19,000 per year per child. The total costs for these foster kids, their agencies, organizations, school, and more was $760 million in 2016. *These are the latest statistics used in President Trump’s Emergency Heath Epidemic/Crisis on opioids. What do all the numbers really mean?
Our states are spending half of the costs of the adoption process per year, many times more when we include substance abuse withdrawal for babies, abuse counseling, learning disabilities, and more, so every state should pay at least half of the costs of adoption. Currently, states provide non-recurring payments to adoptive families from $1,000 to $3,000 with few recurring for disabilities and Medicaid. That is simply not enough. That is not enough of an incentive to help these kids, adoptive families or the families hoping their children will be adopted. How could we possibly ever decrease the number of orphaned Americans-yes, those are our country’s kin-if we can’t help the people willing and able to care for them?
The social costs of having an abundance of “homeless” children cost even more. People are attracted to the money aspect so here we go. Orphans require intense and extensive counseling, possibly learning disabilities from consistent displacement from foster home to foster home, childcare service agencies, orphanages (we may not call them that but we know what they are), after school programs, job placement, medical care and more. What does it cost for you to provide these for your kids? Let’s never forget that agencies bid at the highest level so our states are paying premium prices.
That’s where We the People must come in to request laws that will encourage, support and pay for our nation’s future generations to realize the first American Dream, a stable home with a loving family. That’s the least we can do. Start here by finding your state’s laws and then asking friends, neighbors, parent committees, the PTA and anyone else you can find to create a petition to help these kids. Take that petition to your state representatives and start that conversation. It’s up to us.