The story of the 28 yo guy that becomes a foster father of 9 kids at once.
My best friend’s story of a family crisis that changes his life during the pandemic.
My best friend here in the USA is Luis Jimenez, a twenty-eight years old Latino guy. He and his family are originally from Colombia, living in Philadelphia, PA. Two weeks ago, he received a call that no one expects to receive in life. Nine children of his uncle were referred to the Foster System after their mother overdosed on drugs. The children’s mother was referred to a drug user rehab program and had an 18–24 month term to get rid of the addiction and have them back.
The kid’s father is in prison for theft and is expected to leave prison only in 2023. When Luís told me the story, he couldn’t find a word to define the state in which children were found.
“They all had a head full of lice, with a strong smell of urine, like homeless people. They have eczema and skin wounds; they need a doctor, but their health plan hasn’t cleared yet.”, says Luis.
He cried and choked up a few times while telling this story in my kitchen.
Government officials, responsible for approving families who can stay with the children, assessed my friend Luís and his mother’s life and allowed them to have custody for eighteen months. After the whole process with the social workers that night, five children will stay with Luís. The other four will be accommodated in the children’s grandfather’s house, also Luís’s grandfather, keeping everyone together in the family.
The children received care and affection as they arrived at the house where Luís lives with his mother and grandmother.
The little heads had to be shaved to contain the lice, and they noticed skin wounds, which can be scabies.
One of the children has juvenile alopecia; they appear to be underweight for their ages; none of them are at school. They are beautiful children with pain in their sad eyes.
I first time met Luís Jimenez when I went to work for an insurance company. Like any new insurance agent, we went through early career challenges and became friends. Luís is a sweet guy with a tattooed body. He’s a tough guy that could cry in a romantic comedy, which is fantastic about him. He and his mother always have to deal with family issues. They do this in the current situation, as they did before when they helped with money and supported a cousin of Luís who faced cancer and passed away. To take care of her nephew, Luis’s mother went into debt and lost her house, forcing them to live on rent ever since.
The United States is the wealthiest country globally, but the disregard for the population that needs more help is similar to Brazil’s. How much does it cost to care for nine children? Food, clothing, doctor, education, medicine, how much does it all cost? It is expensive, and public aid is not nearly enough.
“The people in the Foster System said that we would receive help with food and clothing; afterward, they said we do not qualify for stamp food”, Luís explains.
The government gave the family $700 for clothing to all nine. For now, maybe till next month, there is no money food coming from social service. I keep asking myself, what makes hungry kids do not qualify for stamp foods? Whatever.
The children return to online classes, receiving affection, and starting a more structured and safer life, although no one is sure what will happen to them. The kid’s father won’t leave prison until 2023, and the mother is challenged to stop being addicted to drugs in 18 -24 months.
The government drug users program offers living facilities or follow-up meetings, but the drug user must participate freely and spontaneously. A study from 2000 shows that between 40% and 60% return to drugs after one year.
According to 2018 data from the American Academy of Children and Adolescents Psychiatry, more than 500,000 children live in the United States’ Foster System.
Another piece of information I found on the Academy’s website was the list of challenges that Foster parents face, including understanding the various feelings these children have for their birth parents and dealing with emotions and behaviors that the children exhibit have lived.
The same story repeats over and over. Blacks and Latinos are thrown into misery. Luís and his family are American citizens who work and pay taxes. Some may say that the government has nothing to do with citizens’ problems, but that is a mistake. This money in government accounts came out of the American people’s pockets. However, benefits are never back for many of the People who need more.