Selling Blow Jobs for a Happy Meal

 

One million.

If we were talking dollars here a lot of you would be whistling at the thought of winning that lotto ticket.

But I’m not talking dollars.

One million children.

Kids.

Homeless.

Right here in America.

In the Land of the IRS fraud and corporate corruption.

Couch surfing.

Living in cars.

Sleeping under the bridges.

Selling blow jobs for a Happy Meal.

If children really are our future America is screwed like a rabbit in the springtime.

This notion that America is the greatest country on earth is becoming more than a myth; it’s a mockery.

What is wrong with us?

That was one of the questions Antwone Fisher raised during his keynote address at the 2013 Children’s Justice Conference in Seattle on Monday.

You remember Fisher, right?

The fellow who wrote the screenplay – Antwone Fisher, then the NYT bestselling book about his life as a castaway child — Finding Fish.  He has a new book out — A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie.

Born in prison months after his father was murdered, Fisher was made a ward of the court and placed in foster care.

Thirteen.

That’s the number of social workers Fisher had during his incarceration in the nation’s foster care system.

Some kids are fortunate to be in foster homes where they are well-loved and prayed over. My girlfriend Jan  served as the foster mom to eleven children, some of them little boys like Fisher, before she finally adopted a little girl whom she’d brought home from the hospital as a newborn. That little girl is bright and happy and beautiful and so, so very blessed.

Why don’t we fight for children? Fisher asked. We Americans fight for everything else. We love fighting.

 Of course, Fisher was well-aware that the crowd he was speaking before are the foot soldiers in the battle for the welfare of children. Social workers. Law enforcement. Prosecutors. So the question was said in a wry tone.

Just one more question that our politicians, who love to talk when the talking is about all the things they have done,  refuse to answer.

Leaning elbow up against the podium as if he were chatting over the backyard fence with a neighbor, Fisher admitted that the next thing he was about to say wasn’t at all politically correct, but he warned the audience, he was going to say it anyway.

What is wrong with us? We spend all this money going to China, going to Russia to adopt children, all the while American children are left to become pimps on the streets. Why don’t we adopt American children, send them to Harvard? 

Of course the answer is obvious: It isn’t sexy to adopt a child from the foster care system.

Go to China and bring a five-year old home and friends will pat you on the back and tell you what an answer to prayer you are for that child.

Go to Cleveland and adopt a five-year-old out of the foster care system and your friends will start praying for you. Then they will quit having you over for dinner and there will be no play dates for your adopted child with their children because who knows what sorts of atrocities the child from Cleveland has seen? And, by golly, their first job is to protect their own children, not expose them to the likes of America’s homeless children.

The social worker sitting next to me said she’s seen too much. The adopting process from the foster care program is fraught with problems.

What do you mean? I asked. Why are you reluctant to recommend it?

So many of these people who adopt children through foster care end up returning the kids, she said. Like Wal-Mart merchandise, they’ve taken the kids home and discovered that the kids don’t function right, so they just end up bringing the goods back to the place where they got ‘em.

Of course on the flip side of that, I’ve had a friend who adopted a child through foster care, but it took years of wrangling with the courts to do it. The biological parents were worried about the welfare money they’d miss out on if the child was adopted for good, so the state paid for an attorney so they could fight to keep the child – a child who had spent the bulk of her young life in foster care because her parents were in jail or rehab — all at taxpayer’s expense.

People get tired of fighting for kids.

It’s easier to give up on them.

As long as we don’t know the names of the one million homeless children in America, we can pretend they don’t exist except as some vague statistic.

It’s only when they stand before us like Antwone Fisher did, telling the story of that Sunday morning when he discovered the pastor raping Fisher’s foster care sister that you realize each one of these castaway children have the potential to be somebody, somebody creative and good, if only…

We cared enough to learn their names.

But here in America a million only counts when we are talking about dollars.

 

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About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Karen, you have some important thoughts and insights here. I would be careful, however, judging those who have chosen to adopt from other countries. One cannot know their heart or their motives, or how much prayer went into such decisions.

    • http://twitter.com/karenzach Karen Zacharias

      JW: First of all the remarks were not mine. I was quote Antwone but I think you miss the bigger point. No one is saying don’t adopt from China or Russia. What he is saying is that we aren’t taking care of our own. In fact, he followed up his remark with the following: Charity begins at home. Something he repeated several times. But this post isn’t about adoption. This post is about a million homeless children here in the Land of the Free Consumer.

      • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

        Karen, I didn’t see that those were his words, sorry. But I just said we need to be careful, not that the statement was wrong. I think if someone who had adopted a child from Russia or China had read that, it would make them feel awful or at least feel insulted, when the reality is they have done a good thing.

        Even if that wasn’t the point of his remarks (or of this post), I think we can agree that if we see a group photo that we know we are in, the first thing we do is look for our own face. If I’m an adoptive parent of a foreign-born child and I read that, then I don’t care about the other stuff in the post.

        • http://twitter.com/karenzach Karen Zacharias

          Well of course as with anything written, it’s what the reader brings to the page as much as what’s written. So, yes, I think that’s why Antwone was warning the audience that what he had to say would step on some toes. That said, the greater point isn’t that this is an “us” vs. “them” post. I never cease to be troubled by how the entire message can be lost in an effort to never offend anyone…


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