Dangerous Assumptions Part 3
Is the meme that foster care/adoption is better for a child than an orphanage a dangerous assumption?
This was the best of the articles I found regarding this subject. It starts off kind of wacky but provides the goods if you get through the first few sections.
A few things stand out from this article:
1. There has been some debate on this subject. Newt Gingrich briefly tried to champion orphanages in the 90’s. This is an argument against the meme being a dangerous assumption. However, given the MSM’s stranglehold on information during that decade, and their antipathy to Gingrich, the fact that there was a debate isn’t compelling enough to decide the issue.
2. Orphanages went out of favor during the 50’s and 60’s because studies showed “very young children” raised in them developed slowly and lacked social skills later in life. As a result,
In 1980, Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, which established that the nation's goal was to prevent the removal of abused and neglected children from their homes and, if they were removed, to reunify them with their families as quickly as possible.
Let’s assume the studies mentioned above were accurate. Nonetheless, this is a compelling argument that the FC/A is better meme is a dangerous assumption. Studies of pre-teen and teenagers were not made. Then, the fact that the adoption of legislation happened during the reign of the '68 Generation automatically makes it suspect. Finally, no comparison studies were made. Is it wrong to assume that there may have been some correlation, rather than causation, between children who were put in orphanages at a young age and developmental problems? It makes sense to assume that at least some of these children were traumatized prior to being in orphanages. Or that some of them were genetically predisposed to having problems.
But a better argument that FC/A is a dangerous assumption is this declaration, which declares it is not. Written in 1995, perhaps in response to Gingrich- it screams dangerous assumption. Here are a series of quotes begging to be fisked:
· Many insecurely attached, institutionalized children lack empathy, seek behavior in negative ways, exhibit poor self-confidence, show indiscriminate affection toward adults, are prone to noncompliance, and are more aggressive than their non-institutionalized counterpart.
Let’s start with the word “many”. Could the author have been more vague? How about telling us the percentages? Wait, there really is no use to that, since “insecurely attached, institutionalized” is just as vague. It is a useless sentence. Are kids rotated from one foster care situation to another not insecurely attached? What percentages of children are rotated? Did these children have problems before they were institutionalized? Is the non-institutionalized counterpart securely attached because he or she was ABLE to attach, to take hold with a family, whereas the institutionalized child had problems making it more difficult? What percentage of foster parents can’t attach with child A, but do attach to child B? Is child A then sent to other foster parents?
· With few exceptions, children reared in poor quality institutions fail to sit, stand, walk, and talk by age four.
Is this an argument for foster care or for high quality institutions? Is this a tautology? Wouldn’t anyone label a place where children failed “to sit, stand, walk, and talk by age four” a “poor quality institutions?”
· Close examination reveals that even good institutions harm young children, leave teens ill-prepared for the outside world, and cost over three times more than a permanent, loving family.
Why are these “good institutions?” How do they harm young children? Do they harm them more than foster parents? If the standard of comparison is “a permanent, loving family,” what percentages of children go to such families?
In the end I cannot prove this meme is false. The only way to prove such a thing is to disprove, with compelling evidence, all the unproven claims made by the industry that thrives off of it. But I hope I have shown that, at least when it comes to children who do not fit in the “very young children” category, a dangerous assumption MAY BE at work.
Could I prove it is a dangerous assumption? Probably. Will I? No. I lack motivation to do so. Just like everybody else.