Letter 1 November 26, 2013

I’ve had the displeasure of reading this series thus far and have to say that the death of any child, whether in foster care or in the care of their biological parents, is a tragedy that should never happen. I used the word displeasure not because of the content of these stories but because of how skewed these articles are written to paint the foster care system and foster parents in such a negative light and that biological parents are made out to be victims of an evil system. Is the system perfect? No. Are there bad foster parents out there? Definitely, but they are in the vast minority. In the 4 years that my wife and I have been foster parents I can honestly say that we have met some of the most caring and selfless people on this planet and if not for them I believe that countless more children would have died due to circumstances in the homes of their biological parents.

Where is the journalistic objectivity in these stories? Did anyone bother to interview any foster parents, or anyone for that matter who has first hand knowledge of how the system works and the day to day challenges that all foster parents and caseworkers face?

Why would you not break some of your statistics down further? For example, how many of the violent deaths were actually caused by foster parents/families as opposed to people that these kids had relationships with prior to coming into care? What about the kids that died of illnesses? How many of them were removed from their bio parents BECAUSE of said illnesses? How many infants die in Alberta every year due to unsafe sleeping practices in the care of their biological families? And to state that even though aboriginal children make up only 9% of the children in Alberta but account for 78% of deaths of children in care, why didn’t you highlight that aboriginal children also make up at least 78% of the total population of children in care? Were you worried that if these stories weren’t sensationalized by leading readers to believe that the system and foster families are at fault for all the deaths or that somehow the deaths of aboriginal children were seemingly racially motivated that you wouldn’t sell as many papers?

Why are you taking the words of biological parents as gospel? If i had a dollar for every time I have heard a biological parent claim that they were the victims of an unjust system (only to turn around and keep repeating the same cycle of abuse that led to the apprehension of their children in the first place) I would be a very rich man.

Why is no effort being put into reporting on the reasons why the Aboriginal population seems to have such struggles raising their own children, or the lack of help for them? Maybe that could help spark some change at the very root of the problem and help to prevent children from coming into care in the first place.

Why are there no stories being published, at the very least in tandem with these articles to highlight some of the fantastic stories from adopted children or children that have had positive experiences in care? Why stop there? why not interview biological parents who continue to have a relationship with the foster families that have helped raise their kids… I know it would be exceptionally easy to find people and stories of this nature.

I’m extremely disappointed that a paper like the Journal would publish such one sided stories, creating hardship and potentially deterring good families from becoming foster families because of the negative stigma that is attached to being a foster parent, due to the reporting practices of the media. I for one think that these stories have in fact done a disservice to the system and the children in care through making current foster parents think twice about whether or not they really want to be associated with all this negativity and if it is worth it to continue fostering. After all, the only people that will be deterred from continuing to help and provide for the kids in care will be the ones with the purest of intentions (The vast vast majority of foster parents), and that is a very sad reality.