The Fate Of The Child: Abortions Or Foster Care
In 2014, approximately 18,000 children under the age of 2 years old were placed with adoption agencies. In that same year, approximately one million abortions occurred. While this may seem like a lot, both adoption and abortion rates are on a steady decline every year, because more and more unmarried women are choosing to parent. Due to the women’s rights movement, the stigma surrounding unmarried women choosing to parent rather than adoption or abortion is nearly nonexistent. A five-year study called “The Turnaway Study”, developed by the ANSIRH affiliated with the University of California San Francisco followed 30 US clinics from 2008 to 2010 and they interviewed 956 women. They then had in-depth conversations with 31 of those women. Out of those 31 women, 16 received abortions and never considered anything else. The other 15 considered their options, and if they were denied an abortion completely, 14% of them said they were considering adoption. However, ultimately only 9% did actually put their newborn up for adoption, the rest chose to parent. Some of the women cited that they never considered adoption because they knew the system was already overcrowded. Of those that did go on to put their newborns up for adoption, all cited that the adoption process from childbirth to actually turning over their baby was extremely negative. The study found women suffer more guilt in long-term effects related to adoption than from having an abortion. Carrying a child and giving birth forms a bond between the mother and the newborn, and not knowing if your baby is okay or safe after they are given to strangers was too guilt-inducing for the women to bear.
According to the AFCARS report in 2018, on any given day, approximately 443,000 children are in foster care. Of that figure, 25% are available for adoption. Approximately 135,000 children are adopted each year, and 59% of those adoptions are from the foster care system. Of that 59%, 15% are voluntarily relinquished, babies. Infants within the foster care system are a growing proportion of first-time admissions. In 2017, there were 32,232 children under the age of one who entered the US foster care system. This is an increase from 2014 when it was 28,597. This number increases by approximately 1,000 additional infants each year, including both voluntary and involuntary relinquishment.
On average, children end up spending two years in foster care, and the average age of foster care children is eight years old. Most get shuffled between many foster homes, however, 11% end up permanently in group homes or institutions. According to Promises2kids, foster youth that experiences more placements are 15% less likely to graduate high school. More than half of them end up attending schools that are ranked within the lowest 30% of our public school system. Only 71% will achieve a high school diploma by age 19. Of that 71%, 55% go on to college, and only 8% of that 55% actually graduate from college. With the lack of education and most states do not provide job training or any support after leaving the system, 1 in 3 former foster youths become homeless during their first two years after leaving care. 33% will end up on some other type of public assistance.
1 in 3 children will be abused in foster care and the system has been criticized as a pipeline to human trafficking and incarceration. In a 2013 FBI nationwide investigation, it was found that 60% of the child sex trafficking victims that were recovered in their raids were from foster care or group homes. Part of this is due to the fact that ⅓ of our runaway youth come from our foster care system. A woman named Walker Pettigrew testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committees that she spent the first 18 years of her life in foster care, and 7 of those years she was sexually trafficked on the streets, the internet, strip clubs, and massage parlors.
“The lack of commitment to our foster care system is helping to create a population of throwaway children that end with lives of substance abuse, homelessness, and crime. Our federal and state funding is geared towards short-term crisis management services. For the most part, there is no long-term system”.