The Myanmar military’s targeting of children, civilians and peaceful protesters, human rights experts say, constitute acts of terrorism, designed to subjugate a population that has risen up against the army’s seizure of power. After an especially bloody weekend, protesters and human rights groups are calling for stronger action from the international community, and warn that children are at particular risk.
“I have seen women coming out of the jungle with babies in their arms after walking for more than seven days without water, food or any type of protection,” said Jean Gough, the UNICEF regional director who made a two-day trip to the zone.
“Every time I go into her room and just see her pink bed there, that no one has slept in and the drawers full of clothes that have probably been outgrown before they could ever be worn,” Aimee Welch told CNN’s Poppy Harlow, “it’s just a heartbreaking reality.”
For some families, the wait means devastating consequences.
That includes a family living in Massachusetts that was supposed to adopt a 3-year-old girl with severe medical issues from China in January 2020.
Their adopted daughter was born with a condition known as arthrogryposis, which in her case has led to clubfeet.
Now 5 years old, she’s not yet able to walk, and is in desperate need of the occupational and physical therapy she would receive in the United States, according to her would-be adoptive parents.
“The number of unaccompanied minors has risen quickly, but they could easily be eclipsed by the number of families if the U.S. government starts admitting families on an ongoing basis,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank. “And families present many of the same ethical and logistical problems as minors for the U.S. government.”
Believing the U.S. would be more welcoming under President Biden than under former President Donald Trump, who campaigned against illegal immigration, many parents have made the same calculation as Olinda Marilín Portillo Mazariegos. She rafted across the Rio Grande with her 6-year-old daughter on a recent Thursday evening, clambering up a remote stretch of brush here in search of a Border Patrol agent to ask for asylum.
The Daily Mail first published news of the development, reporting the Community Care Licensing Division, a branch of California’s Department of Social Services, sent foster parents the following voice message: “This is an emergency message. Please respond to this urgent message from the Community Care Licensing Division. CCLD would like to know how many available beds you have to serve additional youth.”
Serena Sanchez said the decision had a devastating impact on the four children in his foster care who will likely be required to move to new foster homes.
He says one child has been to the hospital with panic attacks. Another teenager ran away and has not come back.
Faith-based agencies have counted on Bethany to stand strong. They know that if the Supreme Court decides against Catholic Social Services in June, many of the 8,000 faith-affirming providers and families they serve will be forced out of business.
Viviana Cervantes was released from foster care directly from a residential treatment center. Within a few months, she found herself in her college dorm room “with a bagful of psychiatric medication” she didn’t know how to manage. She had a $500-per-month stipend to help start life on her own, but little financial sense to use it wisely.
“The money was blown on things I can’t even tell you,” Cervantes, now 26, said, describing how her life began to spiral. “My education was no longer my priority. Surviving was.”
Foster children matter to us all. Our common humanity demands that we take care of and protect these kids — just as we need to guarantee that other children in the public education system receive the educational opportunities society has promised them.
For foster kids, children living in poverty who have been denied their right to an equal education, and all students suffering through a dismal year of isolation and emotional challenges, politicians and bureaucrats with the authority to do the right thing for our youth must recognize their responsibility to next generations who will inherit what we leave behind.
It can either be a world of compassion — or one where those in positions of power are deaf and blind to the dire needs of kids whose very lives depend upon us.
Prof Anna Gupta, who practised as a social worker for 30 years, argues that Hanna’s children should be told about her illness and given the chance to meet their birth mother before she dies – and she warns that the children may come to resent it if they are not.
“For me, these children are potentially losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I was the social worker, I would be speaking to their adopters and asking them whether they wanted their children to come back years later potentially knowing that they’d deprived them of their last chance to meet their birth mother.”
Gupta’s research shows that many adopted children do want to know about their birth parents at some point in their lives.
“A big message from young people was that we need to prepare adopters that they will look – it’s not about them and their abilities as parents, it’s about the sense of who they are and where they belong,” she says.
Nearly 19,000 children entered the Texas foster care system in 2019 according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Many of these youths have aspirations to attend college or complete a certification in hopes of securing a better future, yet just 33% of Texas foster care youth ever complete the task of navigating college applications and necessary testing to actually enroll in college, and only 1.3% graduate with a bachelor’s degree by age 24.
UTSA, along with several academic and child welfare partners across Bexar County, have been working to change this trend. Through a first of its kind partnership, the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project (BCFES), has developed programs and practices to guide students with a history of foster care—as young as middle school—toward successfully enrolling and completing college.
In looking toward the future, she’s hoping for a system that relies more upon evidence-based policy making and improved future outcomes through tracking and studies.
“If you don’t know how many of your kids are homeless after (they) age out, how do you know all the things you invested into ensure they wouldn’t be homeless actually worked? And then we end up doing the same old thing,” she said.
“Our theory of change is it’s the system that’s defective, not the child. And if you need to correct a defective system, you need to go after the system designers, which are the legislators. … Those elected members have the responsibility over that system which is not producing great results,” Kovarikova added.
At the time of the filming, Jaden had managed to count 500 people whom he’d made smile. While he readily admitted that he was still sad about his mother’s death, the smile mission had given him a sense of purpose.
During her lifetime, Bussanmas was honored several times for her service to Kansas City, including the Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award in 2006 and the Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. With Sailer, she was recently chosen for UMKC’s Starr Women’s Hall of Fame.
“Sister Corita didn’t ever get the public attention Sister Berta did, but she actually had a sense of faith and a sense of God supporting her,” Leifer said. “I think she actually had more of an idea of being driven or motivated by God. And I don’t think Berta stopped worrying about these kids long enough to really think about it, although they both were, of course, women of enormous faith.”
Pam Willis was scrolling through her Facebook feed in 2019 when she landed on a news story about seven siblings in need of a permanent home.
The children, who ranged in age from 1 to 12, had been in foster care for more than a year after losing both parents in a horrific rollover car crash.
Pam couldn’t stop staring at their faces.
“I can’t explain it — I just knew I was supposed to be their mom,” Pam, 50, told TODAY Parents.