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

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?



Sexual abuse?


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


        10 anti-holiday recipes that prove the season can be tasty and healthy

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        Lighten your calorie load with some delicious, nutritious food between big holiday meals.


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        Total resistance is fairly futile—let’s be real—so it’s helpful to arm yourself with ways to mitigate the effects of eating-all-the-things around the holidays. Serving smaller amounts of rich, celebratory foods and focusing on slowly savoring the taste is one way. Another is to counteract those holiday calorie-bomb meals with some lighter fare in between.

        Contrary to popular belief, eating “light” doesn’t have to be tasteless, boring or unsatisfying. And contrary to common practice, meals don’t have to fill an entire plate—especially when we’re trying to balance out heavy holiday eating.

        It is possible to enjoy the bounties of the season while maintaining a healthy balance. Whether you prefer to eat low-carb or plant-based or gluten-free or everything under the sun, we’ve got you covered with these 10 easy, low-calorie meals from across the dietary spectrum.

        Each of these recipes has less than 600 calories (most a lot less) per serving and can be made in less than 30 minutes. And Albertsons has made it easy to find O Organics® ingredients you can put right in your shopping cart to make prepping these meals even simpler.


        eggs and green veggies in a skillet, plate of baconNot quite green eggs and ham, but closeAlbertsons

        Breakfast Skillet of Greens, Eggs & Ham

        273 calories | 20 minutes


        1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach

        2 eggs

        1 clove garlic

        4 slices prosciutto

        1/2 medium yellow onion

        1 medium zucchini squash

        1/8 cup butter, unsalted

        1 pinch crushed red pepper

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        bow of cauliflower ham saladGet your cauliflower power on.Albertsons

        Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Ham, Celery & Dill

        345 calories | 20 minutes

        1/2 medium head cauliflower

        1 stick celery

        1/4 small bunch fresh dill

        8 oz. ham steak, boneless

        1/2 shallot

        1/4 tspblack pepper

        1/4 tsp curry powder

        2 tsp Dijon mustard

        1/4 tsp garlic powder

        3 Tbsp mayonnaise

        1/8 tsp paprika

        2 tsp red wine vinegar

        1/2 tsp salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        tofu on skewers on a plate with coleslawPlant-based food fan? This combo looks yums. Albertsons

        Grilled Chili Tofu Skewers with Ranch Cabbage, Apple & Cucumber Slaw

        568 calories | 20 minutes

        1 avocado

        1/2 English cucumber

        1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu

        1 Granny Smith apple

        3 Tbsp (45 ml) Ranch dressing

        1/2 (14 oz bag) shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)

        2 tsp chili powder

        1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

        1/2 tsp garlic powder

        1/2 tsp salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        frittata in a cast iron skilletSometimes you just gotta frittata.Albertsons

        Bell Pepper, Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Parmesan

        513 calories | 25 minutes

        6 eggs

        1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

        2 oz Parmesan cheese

        1 red bell pepper

        1/2 medium red onion

        8 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

        1/4 tsp black pepper

        1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

        1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

        1/4 tsp salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        plate with slices of grilled chicken and a caprese saladCaprese, if you please.Albertsons

        Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Classic Caprese Salad

        509 calories | 25 minutes

        3/4 lb chicken breasts, boneless skinless

        1/2 small pkg fresh basil

        1/2 (8 oz pkg) fresh mozzarella cheese

        1 clove garlic

        3 tomatoes

        1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

        4 3/4 pinches black pepper

        1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

        3/4 tsp salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        four stuffed mushrooms on a plateThese mushrooms look positively poppable.Albertsons

        Warm Goat Cheese, Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

        187 calories | 35 minutes

        1/2 lb cremini mushrooms

        1 clove garlic

        1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

        1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

        2 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

        1 1/4 pinches crushed red pepper

        1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

        1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

        2 pinches salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        plate with open English muffin with goat cheese and sliced baby tomatoes on topMove over, avocado toast. English muffin pizzas have arrived.Albertsons

        English Muffin Pizzas with Basil Pesto, Goat Cheese & Tomatoes

        327 calories | 10 minutes

        3 Tbsp (45 ml) basil pesto

        2 English muffins

        1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

        1/2 pint grape tomatoes

        3/4 pinch black pepper

        2 pinches salt

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        pita pocket on a plate filled with veggies, meat and cheeseThis pita pocket packs a colorful punch.Albertsons

        Warm Pita Pocket with Turkey, Cheddar, Roasted Red Peppers & Parsley

        313 calories | 20 minutes

        1/4 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese

        1/2 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

        4 oz oven roasted turkey breast, sliced

        1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

        1 whole grain pita

        3/4 pinch black pepper

        1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

        2 tsp mayonnaise

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        plate with toast smeared with avocado and topped with prosciuttoDid we say, "Move over, avocado toast?" What we meant was "Throw some prosciutto on it!" Albertsons

        Avocado Toast with Crispy Prosciutto

        283 calories | 10 minutes

        1 avocado

        2 slices prosciutto

        2 slices whole grain bread

        1 5/8 tsp black pepper

        1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

        1/8 tsp garlic powder

        1/8 tsp onion powder

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        bowl of chili with cheese and green onions on topVegetarian chili with a fall twistAlbertsons

        Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Cheddar

        444 calories | 30 minutes

        2 (15 oz can) black beans

        1/2 (8 oz ) block cheddar cheese

        2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

        2 cloves garlic

        2 green bell peppers

        1 small bunch green onions (scallions)

        1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin purée

        1 medium yellow onion

        1/2 tsp black pepper

        5 7/8 tsp chili powder

        1/2 tsp cinnamon

        2 tsp cumin, ground

        1 tsp salt

        1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

        Find full instructions and shopping list here.

        For more delicious and nutritious recipes, visit albertsons.com/recipes.


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        Nothing splits the generations like what was considered advanced technology during our formative years, and one comedian has encapsulated that divide in an ode to the 1990s.

        Sammy J sang "You'll Never Know What It's Like" at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and had the audience giggling along with recollections of life in the 90s. Driving around in the car with a big book of maps? Check. Making a collect call to tell your mom to pick you up but avoiding the collect call charges by telling her where you were instead of saying your name? Check. Agonizing over whether to take a photo because you only have 24 shots in your disposable camera? Check.

        Younger generations will never know what it was like to live so primitively, it's true. But Gen X does, and this song is like taking a cold plunge into a pool of nostalgia.


        People loved the musical trip to the past.

        "Thank you for taking me down memory lane! It was a blast 😀" wrote one commenter.

        But some couldn't agree on whether young people have it better today or had it better in the 90s.

        "All true! If only our teenagers knew who good they have it!" wrote one person.

        "Life was so so good in the 90’s I feel lucky it didn’t have to grow up in this era 😕," shared another.

        "God I miss the 90s!" wrote another. "Both my daughters always say they wish they grew up in the 90s bc it seemed so much fun and it was!!"

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