Foster parents put themselves at jeopardy

As a midwife who’s mentored families for more than 30 years, I’m writing regarding Mary Roelofs’ alleged child abuse.

As a mother of seven (yours, mine and ours), plus seven foreign exchange students, I have a good understanding of the parenting skills needed in rearing respectful and responsible children.

As neighbors for 20-plus years, with children who played together, I had many opportunities to observe Mary’s interactions with all under her charge, whether biological or foster child. More than just consistent, she instinctively knew when a child needed an affirmation, encouragement, distraction, hug, redirection, explanation, ‘time-out’ or a reproof.

It was Tom and Mary who encouraged us to adopt or foster-parent, because too few homes are “open” for kids desperately needing a place where they can grow, not just in size, but in maturity. Our progress with the process to pursue either option ended with the death of our youngest child.

I have these questions:

1) I wonder if foster-care providers are informed by the courts and social services, of the realities of the ratio of “allegations” in relation to length of years as providers?

2) With the type of high-risk families that courts and social services manage, and our society that advertises “lawsuits” as a way to “make it” financially, how many families have had their lives ruined by an “allegation”?

3) How many “accused” foster-care providers who are later acquitted, ever put themselves in jeopardy again, by offering a home where kids are not just fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads, but are taught valuable life skills and relationship skills, are nurtured and encouraged, taught to be respectful and responsible, becoming a valued member of society—part of the solution, instead of part of the problem?

4) Why was the boy not brought to a doctor until the next day?

5) Who else was in contact with the boy on the evening he left the Roelofs’ home, or the next day prior to the doctor’s examination?

6) By what test did the doctor diagnose the age of the bruises?

When there are no more families willing to put themselves at this magnitude of risk by becoming foster-care providers what will the courts and social services system do then?

Sylvia Kosloski, Midwife 

Riverside North Maternity Care