There aren’t anywhere near enough homes for the children who are here
One of my prior and greatest purposes, while working in various roles across the landscape of human services, was coordinating the licensing for people wanting to be therapeutic foster parents. The purpose of my role was to recruit, train, and support people willing to foster children who came with all the trauma heaped on them from physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, and neglect. Let’s talk about the number of children in foster care, the number of licensed foster homes, and how taking away reproductive rights is only throwing gas on a fire that is already out of control.
It is no easy feat to step into the role of fostering children who have been put through the things I have seen children put through. I have seen children who had been locked in a closet while the parents used drugs, sometimes for days at a time, eating their own feces and left with minimal language or motor skills due to severe neglect. I’ve seen children who have been sexually harmed at ages so young they were permanently physically scarred. I’ve seen children who have been tied up for not properly pimping their mother. I have witnessed infants who have had their legs broken because of parents who were struggling with addiction and dropped them. I could honestly tell horror stories for days on the things I have seen children put through. Needless to say, these children don’t enter foster care as a blank slate. The people willing to become foster parents are often tested to the core of their being by the behaviors and needs that come with such deep trauma.
According to the data reported in “Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families,” as of 2021, Montana had 1,674 licesed foster homes and only 697 of those foster homes were willing to foster children who are not a friend or family member, (https://www.fostercarecapacity.com/data/non-relative-homes). However, there was a staggering number of 3,223 children in foster care, in Montana as of 2021. The national numbers are just as bad. Per the federal data for 2021, there were roughly 212,045 licensed foster homes and 402,140 children in foster care in the U.S., (https://www.fostercarecapacity.com/data/total-licensed-foster-homes).
With numbers like this, the first question that comes to mind is. “Why the funk are reproductive rights being taken away?” There is no apparent strategy in forcing women into child-bearing when we can’t take care of the children who are already here.
There are many reasons a woman would need an abortion. Some examples are addiction, severe mental illness, taking medications that affect fetal development, cancer, septic uterus, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids, HIV and other diseases, pregnancy from rape or incest, a dead fetus, a fetus not developing correctly, too old, too young, or too unstable to be responsible for a life are all excellent reasons to make a decision for abortion. If the government forces every pregnancy to be a birth, what will the numbers of children in foster care look like then? Who will be responsible for them?
Shouldn’t this massive responsibility fall to those who are so concerned with a heartbeat that they could care less about the woman and her circumstances? Yet it doesn’t. During my time of recruiting foster parents, I asked many of the pro-life sign holders standing outside a medical facility harrassing people going in, if they would like to make an appointment with me to become foster parents. I quoted the statistics of children who need foster homes. I figured they would be the most interested.
My effort was futile. I was given loads of excuses like, “I’ve heard horror stories, it’s not for me,” and, “I have my own children. I can’t risk something happening to them by taking in a child who might hurt my own kids.” Then why the funk would you stick a sign in someone’s face when you are unwilling or unable to help with this massive social issue?
I suppose if we lived in a perfect world, with perfect pregnancies and perfect health and no social issues, we wouldn’t need abortion. That is the irresponsible fantasy of every person raising a pro-life sign. Not all women are alike, not all wombs are alike, not all bodies are alike. The uterus is a complicated place, as is the entire body.
It’s deplorable that pro-life advocates and the govorment have turned their back on all the social, mental health, and health crises that have caused the high numbers of children who are in foster care. Instead they jumped on a fantastical soapbox that a heartbeat should negate all issues the woman, children, and society are facing.