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9 things to know about kids in foster care. Plus an unforgettable view into their lives.

Foster care is a nightmare for some kids and their foster parents. For others, it's a blessing.

foster care, foster care facts, zoe removed

A clip from "ReMoved Part Two"



Zoe's story, "Removed," has been seen by millions of people.

It was previously shared by my amazing Upworthy colleague Laura Willard. We got just a tiny taste of what it was like for kids in foster care, right after being removed. Specifically, a little girl named Zoe and her little brother Benaiah.

My wife and I, foster parents for the past year, even shared the original with our adoption worker, who passed it along to the entire agency and, then, it took off like wildfire among those people as well.

This is part 2 of that story, and it hits hard.

(Yes, the video's on the long side at about 20 minutes. But it's worth the watch to the end.)

She describes her life as a cycle, interrupted by a tornado. She's a foster child. I don't think I need to say any more.


So ... let's accompany that with 9 uncomfortable — but enlightening — facts below. There are only nine bolded, but within those headers, there are several more facts.

1. There are an estimated 400,000 kids in foster care right now.

Some are awaiting adoption. Some will go back to their parents. Others will age out or, sometimes, run away.

2. Foster kids can suffer from PTSD at almost two times the rate of returning veterans.

And PTSD can mimic a lot of other mental illnesses, and it can manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, fight-or-flee responses, anger outbursts, and hyper-vigilance (being on "red alert" at all times), among other symptoms.

Image via Nathaniel Matanick.


3. The average age of a foster child is 9 years old.

They're just on that edge of childhood, and chances are, it's been a pretty messed up childhood at that. Trauma does that.

4. About half of all foster kids are in non-relative foster homes.

8% are in institutions, 6% are in group homes, and only 4% are in pre-adoptive homes. Read that again — only 4% are in pre-adoptive homes.

5. Some of foster children experience multiple placements. In some cases, eight or more.

That's eight homes that they move into — and out of. And just consider ... that means they lose not just adults and other kids with whom they are establishing a bond, but friends, schoolmates, pets.

Clip via Nathaniel Matanick


6. The average foster child remains in the system for almost two years before being reunited with their biological parents, adopted, aging out, or other outcomes.

8% of them remain in foster care for over five years. Of the 238,000 foster kids who left the system in 2013, about half were reunited with parents or primary caregivers, 21% were adopted, 15% went to live with a relative or other guardian, and 10% were emancipated (aged out).

7. In 2013, more than 23,000 young people aged out of foster care with no permanent family to end up with.

And if you add that up, year after year, hundreds of thousands of foster youth will have aged out of the system. What does that look like? "You're 18. You've got no place to live and no family. Good luck — buh-bye now!" One-quarter of former foster kids experience homelessness within four years of exiting the system.

8. Foster "alumni" (those who have been in foster homes and either adopted, returned to parents, or aged out) are likely to suffer serious mental health consequences.

They are four-five times more likely to be hospitalized for attempting suicide and five-eight times more likely to be hospitalized for serious psychiatric disorders in their teens.

Based on that set of statistics alone, it's in the public's interest (ignoring, for a second, the interests of those kids) to help them through their lot in life and spend resources making it all work much better for everybody before it gets to that point. Right?

So there's a lot to be angry about in this whole messed up situation. But this next thing? My blood boils.

What's one of the biggest risk factors in families whose children are placed in foster care?

Your guess?

Cruelty?

Drugs?

Sexual abuse?

Neglect?

The answer is ...

9. Poverty

Together with homelessness and unemployment, it's a main contributing factor. It happens all the time. The fact that it's far easier for a parent to be accused and investigated for neglect or abuse because of simple things like lack of access to a vehicle, or a working refrigerator, or the ability to get a kid to a doctor's appointment — that has a lot to do with this. Tie that to the link between drug abuse and poverty and between poverty and child abuse ... well, you can see where this is going.

And in a country where one-third of children are living in poverty (hint: the good ol' U.S. of A.), imagine how that affects the number of kids being removed and placed into foster care.

I'll end this with a bit of hope through my story.

My kids went through something a lot like the kids in the clip above before they came to live with us. We've been through the ringer in ways that we're going to have to talk about one day because it's not just that the kids have been challenging — they have — it's that the system itself has been more challenging.

The entire system — from agencies to government entities to social workers to even the schools — seems like it's designed to fail these kids and the families who are attempting to help. It's almost designed not to work. There, I said it.

But that doesn't mean we won't fight to make it better for everybody. We most definitely will.

Image from a photo by my wife, Robin.

As for us, we're just a few weeks away from becoming the legal parents to these kids, and we're extremely happy to be right here, making it happen. And they seem quite happy to be our kids. Along the way, we fell in love with them, and we can't imagine life without them.

But to be totally honest ... if we'd have known how hard it was going to be when we started this journey, and if we could somehow turn back the clock and NOT do it ... well, would we have actually gone forward with the process?

I take that back. I won't be totally honest here. I will simply let you decide.

Here are some places to help, if you're so inclined.

        • AdoptUsKids.org is a place to start if you're considering fostering or adopting.
        • My Stuff Bags is a really cool and inexpensive way to help foster kids by gifting them actual luggage, duffel bags, and more, so that they don't travel from home to home with garbage bags for their belongings — or nothing at all.
        • CASA for Children offers legal help and advocates for foster kids through a network of volunteers.

        This story was written by Brandon Weber and originally appeared on 07.17.15

        Sponsored

        3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

        O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

        A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

        Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

        By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

        Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

        O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


        “We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

        With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

        Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

        O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

        Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

        Prep time: 2 minutes

        Cook time: 20 minutes

        Total time: 22 minutes

        Ingredients:

        1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

        1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

        O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

        O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

        O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

        1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

        Instructions:

        1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

        2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

        3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

        4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

        tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

        O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

        Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

        Prep time: 15 minutes

        Cook time: 7 hours

        Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

        Servings: 4

        Ingredients:

        1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

        1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

        3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

        1 tsp onion powder

        I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

        2 cups water

        1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

        1 clove garlic ($.50)

        1 tsp salt

        1/4 tsp pepper

        2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

        Instructions:

        1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

        2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

        3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

        4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

        5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

        potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


        O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

        This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

        Prep time: 2 minutes

        Cook time: 25 minutes

        Total time: 27 minutes

        Servings: 4

        Ingredients:

        1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

        1 tbsp. olive oil

        2 tsp dried basil

        1 tsp garlic powder

        1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

        1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

        1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

        2 1/4 cups water

        2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

        1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

        Instructions:

        1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

        2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

        3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

        4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

        5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

        o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

        It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

        For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

        It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

        That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.



        According to The Guardian, Burgoyne was flying his drone through a remote patch of forest in Canada when he spotted three moose in a clearing. His drone followed one of the bulls, who began doing the wobbly little shake thing that signals these antlers are going bye-bye.

        Burgoyne knew he had to keep his camera on the moment—but he had no idea that he’d hit the jackpot.

        Watch below:

        It’s hard to tell which is more fun to watch— the super rare moment in nature or Burgoyne’s pure passion for his hobby.

        “I shook a little bit. It was an adrenaline rush for sure,“ he told CBC News, sharing that he has previously found hundreds of shed antlers in his life.

        Antler hunting has become a hot and profitable pastime over the past few years, although Burgoyne affirms that his shed hunting ambitions are born from a desire for well-being, not monetary gain.

        “I enjoy being in the woods. It’s great exercise and it’s fun tracking the moose through the winter and looking for their sheds in the spring. Each one you find feels like the first one. It never gets old,” he told The Guardian.

        Well Derek Burgoyne, thank you for doing what you love. Thanks to your passion, we too can share this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Here’s to good moose news!


        This article originally appeared on 1.20.23

        Images provided by P&G

        Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

        True

        Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

        The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

        Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

        We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

        While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

        That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

        Strengthen their community

        Make a tangible and unique impact

        Go above and beyond day-to-day work

        The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

        Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

        A photo taken at a Costco food court in Japan.

        Few Costco staples are as well loved as its food court. Though the selection consists of simple fast food, certain dishes have become culinary icons—not least of which being the famously unchanged $1.50 hot dog and soda combo meal. And when certain fan favorites exit the menu…oh boy.

        Costco food courts are such a hot discussion topic among shoppers that recently an entire Reddit thread was dedicated to exploring different Costco food courts around the world. It’s both interesting to take and look at some of the differences, and soothing to know that no matter where you are in the world…affordable food options await.


        England

        Food Court Menu- Yorkshire, England
        byu/The2ndenlightenment inCostco

        As would be expected, this food court offers a very similar selection to that in the US. Soft-serve ice cream, pizza, baked chicken…the usual.

        But an American would never expect to see “jacket potato” on the menu, which is the UK name for a baked potato. Plus the toppings are a bit exotic. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never considered piling baked beans or tuna on top of a cooked spud.

        This Costco food court also sells the mango smoothie that went viral on TikTok but still only made a short lived debut in America. Or you could be extra fancy and get a gelato cone. Yum.

        And in case you were wondering. Yes, there’s a hot dog combo meal. It averages out to about $1.90 USD.

        Korea

        Korean Costco food court menu
        byu/kindofharmless inCostco

        Here you can still get the hot dog combo meal (for about $147 USD), but it will be an all-pork hot dog rather than the standard all-beef one. But you’ll probably just go for the churros, since (tragically) these are a rare commodity in the US.

        But if you’re feeling adventurous, go for a strawberry latte, bulgogi pizza or a bowl of mushroom soup. Or all three!

        Iceland

        Food court menu in Iceland
        byu/UrLocalTroll inCostco

        Here the hot dog meal is a wee bit more pricey (around $2.18 USD), but that’s still cheaper than the $8 cheeseburger.

        However, the real talked about menu item is the “mexican baka,” which one commenter explained was “like a burrito with pizza dough.” Sold!

        Japan

        The Food Court Line up Today in Tokyo!
        byu/PlatformFrequent4052 inCostco

        Feast on bulgogi bakes, shrimp katsu burgers, cold brew coffees, clam chowder and perhaps the cheapest hot dog combo in the world at $1.15 USD.

        Canada

        Updated Canadian Food Court menu
        byu/thermal7 inCostco

        Anyone who has been to both a Canadian and an American Costco will tell you that there are a few key differences between the two locations, including the food courts.

        For one thing, the Canadian Costco sells french fries—arguably one of the most American foods ever, which makes it surprising that it’s not on the American Costco menu. Some guessed that that was because the American locations don’t have deep fryers installed.

        Just imagine having some fries to go with that $1.50 hot dog meal. Or a Polish hot dog, if you prefer (another item only available at Canadian Costcos).

        That’s just a small sampling of what some Costcos have to offer worldwide. While they all have something that makes them unique, the budget-friendly hotdog meal goes largely unchanged no matter what. Perhaps there shouldn't be comfort in that, but there is.

        This could be the guest house.


        Inequality has gotten worse than you think.

        An investigation by former "Daily Show" correspondent Hasan Minhaj is still perfectly apt and shows that the problem isn't just your classic case of "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer."


        As much as we hear about wealth inequality these days, one disparity remains mostly ignored: the gap between the wealthy and the ridiculously wealthy.

        Minhaj spoke to Richard Reeves, an economist with the Brookings Institute, who painted a dark picture:

        wealth, comedy, Hasan Minhaj

        Wealth inequality on the rise.

        All GIFs via Comedy Central.

        The study Reeves refers to points to the growing wealth of the top 10th of the top 1%:

        "The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012 — a level almost as high as in 1929. The bottom 90% wealth share first increased up to the mid-1980s and then steadily declined."

        And no one's paid any attention.

        Between the cries of the 45.3 million people in poverty and a dwindling middle class inevery state, the voice of the average millionaire is all but drowned out.

        the one percent, inequality, investment

        Millionaires unconcerned with financial disparity.

        All GIFs via Comedy Central.

        But not all millionaires are worried about growing inequality in the top 1%.

        In his search for a concerned millionaire, Minhaj met Morris Pearl, a retired investment banking director and member of an organization called The Patriotic Millionaires. Minhaj was baffled by what Pearl had to say:

        resources, rich, Ronald Reagan

        Investment banking pays well.

        All GIFs via Comedy Central.

        What about trickle-down economics?

        Trickle-down theory was popularized under Ronald Reagan's presidency. The idea was that clearing a path for the rich to make more money would spur more private investment, which would lead to more jobs and higher wages for all workers.

        tax breaks, income, classism

        Attempting the preach the reverse.

        All GIFs via Comedy Central.

        Reagan put trickle-down theory into practice in two basic ways: by lowering taxes for the wealthy and by freezing wages for the poor.

        In 1981, he cut the top marginal income tax rate — which only applies to the highest-income households — from 70% to 50%. Then in 1986, he more than doubled-down by slashing the rate to 28%. (The current rate is 39.6%.) And under Reagan's leadership, the minimum wage was frozen, even as costs of living were rising.

        Pearl and other so-called Patriotic Millionaires think top one-percenters like themselves should pay more taxes.

        trickle-down theory, financial institutions, comedy show

        Making rich people richer.

        All GIFs via Comedy Central.

        Not only that, they believe raising the minimum wage is critical to reducing inequality.

        OK, maybe not everyone — including millionaires — are convinced that giving more money to the rich will fix the economy. So why do our policies do just the opposite?


        This article originally appeared on 3.23.15

        Video showing three men attempting to close stroller is sitcom funny

        Have you ever wondered where sitcoms get their zany ideas? Sometimes it seems like they pulled nonsensical scenarios out of thin air because they're so unbelievable. One of those moments happened out in the wild recently and it was caught on film, but not because it was written into a script.

        Two people captured the moment on their cell phone, promptly uploading the video to the TikTok channel Jordan Floam Official. In the video you see one man struggling to fold a seemingly impossible to fold stroller. The back door is open so it's assumed there's an infant in the backseat who was sitting in the stroller at some point.

        The dad pushed buttons, yanks on the stroller, flips it upside down dislodging the seat, all in an attempt to get it to fold onto itself. Much to his relief an assumingly more seasoned dad walks up to lend a hand. Except, that doesn't go as planned either.


        It is obvious that the people filming this failed stroller folding are tickled by what they're witnessing, though by the sounds of their commentary, they also have no idea how to fold the thing. As the video goes on it's clear that the stroller isn't closing when a third, older man shows up to help the other two guys bang on it. But just as the three men seemed to be reaching exasperation, an older woman walks over, grabs the stroller with one hand and it immediately collapses into the folded position.

        No, it wasn't wizardry, just a seasoned parent more than likely. Most commenters got a kick out of the woman's smooth execution while others wanted to add the sturdy baby buggy to their list.

        @jordanflomofficial

        How many Dads to collapse a Stroller? 🤣 #dad #mom #stroller #baby #funny

        "That eye contact with the camera tells me she heard y'all roasting them and saw her moment to flex for the girls," one person surmised.

        "Dad here. THEY EVEN MADE IT A DIFFERENT COLOR THAN THE REST OF THE STROLLER FOR YOU. Come on man, you're making us look bad," a dad retorts.

        "The way he is manhandling a $500 stroller is giving me hives," someone sobs.

        "This is like the episode of the office when Dwight is safety testing Jan's stroller," another writes.

        Well, moms-to-be, if you were looking for a sturdy stroller, this one looks to be just what you need and it has a large button right in the middle for you to fold it one handed.


        When mom lays down for a nap with her son, the image is wonderful.

        When Bobby Wesson posted a love letter to his wife on Facebook under a beautiful photo of her sleeping next to their son, he must have known she would love it.

        What he couldn't have known was that it would go completely viral, and now more than 680,000 other people love it, too.


        In Wesson's touching letter, he applauds his wife's dedication to her work as a nurse and all the love and sacrifice she puts into that difficult job every day. His final line perfectly sums up his feelings: "My wife is a nurse. My wife is a hero."

        Check out the beautiful photo and complete letter below:
        family, parenting, moms, viral photos, social media

        A heartwarming photo of a mother sleeping with her son.

        via Bobby Wesson/Facebook

        This is my wife taking a nap. In an hour she will wake up, put on her scrubs and get ready for work.

        The tools and items she needs to perform her job will be gathered and checked meticulously—her hair and makeup will be done quickly. She will complain that she looks awful. I will disagree, emphatically, and get her a cup of coffee.

        She will sit on the couch with her legs crossed under her and try to drink it while happily playing with the toddler that's crawling all over her.

        She will occasionally stare off blankly as we talk; silently steeling herself for the coming shift. She thinks I don't notice.

        She will kiss the baby, she will kiss me and she will leave to go take care of people that are having the worst day of their entire lives. Car wrecks, gunshot wounds, explosions, burns and breaks – professionals, poor, pastors, addicts and prostitutes—mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and families—it doesn't matter who you are or what happened to you.

        She will take care of you.

        She will come home 14 hours later and remove shoes that have walked through blood, bile, tears and fire from aching feet and leave them outside.

        Sometimes she will not want to talk about it. Sometimes she can't wait to talk about it. Sometimes she will laugh until she cries and sometimes she will just cry – but regardless of those sometimes she will be on time for her next shift.

        My wife is a nurse. My wife is a hero.


        This article originally appeared on 08.14.18