Teenager Davion Only made national news last year when he took to the pulpit and begged for a family to love him forever. Davion, born into foster care, had been bounced between group homes and foster families his whole life.
After more than 10,000 people expressed interest in adopting Only, he was matched with a family in Ohio, and in March he moved in with the family. However, after just a few months there was reportedly a physical altercation in the foster home and Only was sent back to Florida, putting an end to that potential adoption.
So who's to blame for yet another failed placement in Davion Only's short life? I have no freakin' idea. It's Davion's life, not mine. I don't know Davion. I don't know the intimate details of his history. I've never met a single case worker, social worker, attorney, adoption worker, judge or therapist who has worked on his case. I know next to nothing about the family who had planned to adopt him. It is in no way my place to pass judgement or jump to conclusions about what happened.
I hear questions all the time about the brokenness of foster care... Why don't they terminate parents' rights more quickly? Why do they give the birth parents so many chances? Why does the system move kids around so frequently? Why does it take so long for kids to be adopted? Why do foster and adoptive parents give up on kids? Why are so many foster parents just in it for the money? Why aren't social workers better trained and equipped? Why ... why ... why ...
If only any one of these issues held the magic key to solving the foster care problem. Unfortunately any problem so big as the abuse or neglect of a child (which is often generational in nature) rarely has a perfect solution. The failed adoptive match in Davion's situation is one very public example of what is, unfortunately, a very common problem.
Children come into foster care hurt and in need of great care. Well-meaning foster and adoptive families are rarely prepared for the challenges they will face. Anyone who has not walked this road of parenting a child who has been through significant trauma and loss will never fully understand the challenge that it is to provide an environment which helps facilitate healing for these children. I imagine the social workers, adoption workers, judges, and attorneys who work on these kinds of cases will say something similar about the pressure and responsibility they feel to these children, while at the same time being understaffed, under-educated, underfunded, and under-supported.
So who's to blame? No one. Every one. But does it really matter? When there is no one clear misstep to address, it becomes the responsibility of the collective consciousness to step up and make it better, rather than to dissect the perceived wrongdoings of others. So - step up.
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