Visibility for Foster Youth
Dear Annie: Something not spoken about regarding oppression, disadvantages and privilege is the privilege people have when they have family.
I grew up in foster care, and I see nearly zero percent representation of former foster youth anywhere in the media or in stories or headlines, unless, of course, it is about someone who entered foster care as a small child and then was adopted into a family.
The problem is that this is a misrepresentation of former foster youth. The vast majority of foster youth never get adopted.
Here are a few alarming statistics: Our homeless population across the country is nearly 50% made up of former foster youth; 7 out of 10 girls in foster care have a child before the age of 21; and half of all babies born to foster youth are taken and placed into foster care.
We have high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, and early death. Our rate of post-traumatic stress disorder rivals that of war veterans by twice as much. We graduate with a high school degree at nearly 30% of the population, and only 3% graduate from a four-year college.
Every single social justice issue brought forth is about issues that never look at the most pressing and concerning parts of our country and world. With these outcomes, you'd think I would have died by now. Nobody adopted me, and I was kicked out of every single foster home I lived in. And I'm here gaining a degree and raising my own babies.
But every foster youth story is about someone who gets adopted. It's never about the outcomes we actually face.
There is nothing about that in public discussions of oppression and privilege.
It is a privilege that people seem to think everyone is afforded -- to have a family.
I think your readers need to understand that, especially when I see stories about people who were adopted and then get reunited with their biological parent(s) in later years.
The entire point of these issues is never discussed, and quite frankly, it makes me extremely sad to see. -- Family Privilege
Dear Family Privilege: What an important point you make! Very often the media gets on a bandwagon of exploring one group of victims or another, and I understand your frustration at being left out. Let's hope there is more coverage about the trials and tribulations of foster youth. You sound like an amazing mother, and your children are fortunate to have you. Thank you so much for your letter.
Dear Annie: People often write to you complaining about social media posts, and you suggest they block or unfriend the poster.
Another option is to "unfollow" the person. I have quite a few friends and relatives who have strong opinions that are different from mine. Their brash, crude and sometimes untrue memes popped up on my page all the time.
By "unfollowing" them, I can still go to their pages and see their social activities when I want to, but their political memes and name-calling aren't in my face every time I log on. -- Unfollow
Dear Unfollow: Thank you for your great suggestion, based on your success at staying in touch without being offended or getting riled up.
"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.