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Opinion

Readers React: When it comes to foster care, family ties are complicated

Rusty Page
Rusty Page carries his foster daughter as they are escorted to a car.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Garrett Therolf’s excellent article does more than bring attention to an extremely complicated situation with tens of thousands of children’s lives and families in the balance. (“The child welfare system: broken bonds,” March 27)

His engaging, balanced reporting educates the public and decision-makers on the causes and other factors.

This ongoing coverage of the foster care system has led to change and more transparency in the system, though there is still so much room for improvement.

Please invest in more reporting like this on the many complicated issues that need attention and public engagement.

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Steve Barkan, Altadena

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To the editor: This article describes the dilemma that foster and adoptive parents face: bonding with a child they might not keep.

As an adoptee whose parents waited two years for my final adoption papers, I know how tenuous the situation is.

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Children are not property, and it is not always in their best interest to remain with their family of origin. Children are human beings with feelings. If a child is being reared by loving parents and she has become part of a family, it seems cruel and unusual to remove her. Should a child be moved because the court rules that blood binds more than love?

It’s time to revisit our foster care and adoption laws in favor of children’s welfare. They are the ones who feel the lifelong effects of these decisions.

Libby J. Atwater, Ventura

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To the editor: After 30-plus years of working for the Department of Children and Family Services, I am now very happily retired.

Your reporter — a journalist, not a social worker — can never know what a difficult job it is for the department’s social workers to do their jobs.

This story was an example of an old problem with which the department has struggled for many, many years.

It was always clear in our training and practice that the foster parents’ role is to foster (regardless of how bonded they become to a child), and that one part of our job was to search for available family members, as well as to try to place siblings together.

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Yes, mistakes have been made, the court gets backed up and too often continues hearings, and children too often languish in foster care.

In this case, it appears everyone was made aware that the department had been trying to place this child with family out of state.

Why it took so long is complicated, but unfortunately it does happen. The family’s emotional reaction just shows that they fell in love.

To me, of great significance is the fact that this child is now being placed with one sibling and near another.

I truly feel for the family, but this is one time I believe the court got it right.

Julie Nagel, West Hills

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To the editor: As Mr. Bumble in “Oliver Twist” so famously said: “the law is a ass — a idiot.”

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Seems some things have not changed.

Chris Keller, West Covina

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