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Joy

People share the quirkiest things their pets do and it's both hilarious and heartwarming

We asked our people to share their pet's weirdest antics and our audience delivered.

dog with tongue out

Silly doggo.

Pets are good for many reasons, from companionship and comfort to security and snuggles. But they can also be highly entertaining members of the family.

One saving grace during the pandemic was getting to spend lots of time with our pets and witnessing all of their silly, quirky antics all day long. How many times have you wished you could hear what was going through your cat or dog's brain as they do things that defy logic. The cat who likes to chew on people's hair while they sleep—why? The dog who spins around in a circle ten times before relieving themselves—why?

The reason animals do what they do may be a mystery, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable to hear about their silly habits. We asked our Upworthy audience to share the quirkiest things their pets do, and people delivered big time.


Check out some of the hilarious things people's pets do, as well as the heartwarming memories of furry friends who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge:

"My dog is obsessed with toilet paper rolls. Whenever there’s an empty one in the trash, she digs it out. Then she carries them around the house or takes them outside and puts them under her 'tree of recyclables.' — Michelle C.

puppy watching TV

TV-loving pup

Photo by sq lim on Unsplash

"Memorizes commercials with dogs in them by their song. If she hears the song start she comes running in from another room to attack the TV." – Angela S.

"My Border collie hates numbers. We’ve tested it with loads of words and then randomly throw in a number and he goes crazy. He knows his numbers up to 100, I’m not sure where the habit developed from but he hates numbers so much we avoid saying them. 😂" – Holly L.

"My puppy steals bras and socks on laundry day and runs around the house with them." – Maggie M.

"One of my dogs (big lab mix) was scared of the kitchen floor. I had to lay a carpet runner from the carpet to the back door so he could get out. Sometimes he would get stuck in there and freeze.I had to physically slide him across the kitchen to the carpet. I loved him." – Katie D.

cat lounging on the back of a sofa

Lounging-but-alert kitty

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

"My cat always watches the water go down when I flush the toilet. Literally jumps up on the seat to watch it go down the pipe. 🤷🏼♀️" – Tara L.

"My cat Westley loves spinach, broccoli, cucumber, bell peppers and squash. If I’m preparing any of them he goes berserk begging for a piece. When I give it to him he carries it off under the dining room buffet to eat it. Always finding broccoli florets down there." – Amy D.

"I just lost my girl Puffin. Every night she'd snuggle in the little crook in my arm like a stuffed animal and sleep there with me all night. She was terrified of plastic bags and would run and hide when we changed the bins. She also loved waiting for me to get out of the bath sitting on the side of the tub waiting as long as it took for me to get out." - Dallas T.

"Although my baby Jerome is no longer with us, he LOVED the swivel barstools. He would get as far away as possible and make a hard run to them, jump up on them and spin. He got up to about 5 or 6 revolutions." – Bonnie G.

pug sleeping on a pink stuffied unicorn

Sleepy doggo.

Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

"She gets upset if I sneeze and rushes to my side crying as if she thinks I’m either in pain or hurt (cat)." – Patty B.

"My dog thought his collar was his clothes. If we took it off for any reason, he would run and hide until we put it back on. He also would never go outside without a leash. He would stick his nose out of the door and sniff the air, but as soon as his leash was on he was raring to go. Still miss him. Goldens are the best." – Mike R.

"We lost our little Zoe kitty three week ago 💔 but she LOVED to watch stuff boil on the stove. If I was cooking, she wanted to be picked up so she could watch. 🥰She also enjoyed her 'coffee' every day that my daughter gave her. Zoe’s coffee was a minuscule dollop of Rediwhip and she would sit so perfectly and wait patiently for her coffee. 🥹" – Julie S.

"My dog likes to spill her food all over the floor (knocking it out of her bowl) so she can eat it piece by piece across a larger surface. We like to say she doesn’t like her food to touch." – Nicole A

cat sitting in a silly position

Derpy kitty

Photo by [kaˈmeːli̯ə] ... on Unsplash

"Mine hunts worms. He sniffs them out, gently digs them up, rolls on them, pulls them out a little, rolls on them some more and then may or may not eat the smoothed worm." – Amy S.

"My female mini dachshund sits on her older brother’s (male dachshund’s) head like it’s a little stool." – Dirk B.

"I would always put our undies at the bottom of the laundry basket because our pug would stop at nothing to dig them out and run thru the house. But, only when we had company. Not to mention he was so short, he'd often trip over them. He was a pervert." – Twila P.

"When my dog was alive, he did not like to leave his 'droppings' in sight. So, he would back his rear up to the nearest bush, go, and then cover what he could with dirt. Also, once, when I was detained too long, and had left him in the house, he squeezed (he was a Keeshond, medium sized dog) thru the cat door, and did his business in the cat sandbox. I didn’t teach him any of these things…." – Judy J.

big-eyed pug in a yellow beanie

Suspicious doggo.

Photo by Toshi on Unsplash

"My grand fur baby Scratch would often get up on the piano while my granddaughter was playing it. Now, Scratch plays the piano for treats. Often for short periods but sometimes he plays for several minutes. He does this on his own looking for the treat reward but will also do it on demand when you ask him to play the piano he will. He brings us such joy." – Kim F.

"We have a plot hound. We keep an old towel by his dish because ever since he was a puppy if he doesn’t feel like eating right away, he takes the towel & covers his food until he is ready to eat." – Pat B.

"First dog ate all the backs out of all my right shoes. Never ever left shoe. Cat only drank running water. We had to leave a faucet dribbling all the time. Current hound has figured out how to open a clam shell plastic container and eat whatever is in there without breaking the seal." – Sandy L.

"My cat loves my husband's dirty socks. He sleeps on them, rolls on them and sometimes he bites them and tries to kill them. He is a little weirdo!" – Leona C.

"One cat crawls under blankets and throw rugs, the other cat stands on top of her and looks like she’s surfing as the below cat wiggles." – Kathleen B.

Sandhya with other members at a home meet-up

South Asian women across the country are finding social support in a thriving Facebook group devoted to them.

The Little Brown Diary has over 40,000 members, primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, and 100 subgroups devoted to niche topics. Some of these include mental health, entrepreneurship, career advice, and more.

Members of the group can discuss their experiences as South Asians, inner conflicts they face, and even bond over their favorite hobbies. The Facebook group has become a safe place for many of its members to find support in the most transformative periods of their lives. These include:

  • Supporting women in domestic violence and sexual assault circumstances
  • Sharing mental health and suicide resources
  • Connecting members to support each other through grief and loss
  • Helping members find the strength to get a divorce or defend their decision to be childfree
  • Helping them navigate career changes
  • Helping to find friends in a new city
  • Finding a community of other neurodivergent people in their shoes

“I joined the online community because I was looking for that sense of belonging and connection with others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds,” expressed Sandhya Simhan, one of the group admins.

“At the time, I was pregnant and eager to find other desi moms who could offer support, advice, and friendship during this significant life transition,” she says.

Another group admin, Henna Wadhwa, who works in Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., even uses the group to inspire new areas of research, including a study on ethnic-racial identity at work.

“I was surprised and excited for a group that brought together South Asian/brown women. I wanted to meet other women with similar research interests and who wanted to conduct academic research on South Asian American women,” Wadhwa says.


While social media isn’t always the best place to spend our time, studies show that the sense of community people get from joining online groups can be valuable to our mental health.

“The presence of LBD has allowed so many South Asian women to truly feel safe in their identity. The community we have built encourages each person to authentically and freely be themselves. It is a powerful sight to witness these South Asian women be vulnerable, break barriers, and support each other in their journeys,” says Wadhwa.

Hena and Neesha

According to an article in Psychology Today, a study on college students looked at whether social media could serve as a source of social support in times of stress. Turns out, these students were more likely to turn to their social media network rather than parents or mental health professionals for connection. The anonymity of virtual communities was also seen as appealing to those experiencing depression.

“The social support received in the online group promotes a sense of well-being and was associated with positive relationships and personal growth,” the article states.

This is why finding a community of like-minded individuals online can have such a positive impact in your life.

“There are almost half a million women in our target audience (millennial South Asians in North America) and about 10% of them are part of LBD. It’s been a game-changer for our community. LBD is all about embracing your true self and living your most authentic life. It's amazing to see how the members support, relate, learn, and lift each other,” says Wadhwa and Simhan.

Carl Sagan and a sliced apple

The concept of the fourth dimension seems beyond human comprehension. As three-dimensional beings, we are unable to see beyond a physical object's height, width and depth. What else could there be?

Enter Carl Sagan, revered as one of the greatest science communicators of his time. He possessed a unique gift for demystifying complex scientific concepts, making them accessible and thrilling for the general public. In 1980, on Episode 10 of the groundbreaking PBS show “Cosmos,” Sagan embarked on a mission to explain the seemingly impossible fourth dimension.


What’s excellent about Sagan’s explanation is that he uses simple and relatable objects: an apple and a Tesseract, or a hypercube.

Sagan began by discussing how a two-dimensional being living in a flat world would perceive a three-dimensional object like an apple.

“Imagine we live in this ‘flatland’/2-D plane with no concept of ‘up’ or ‘down.’ Then along comes a 3-D object like an apple. We do not even notice it until it crosses our plane of existence — and even then, we have no idea what the apple is,” Sagan explains. “We see only a fragment as it passes through our plane. There is no way we can comprehend the 3-D quality/dimension of the apple, because it is more than we can understand. We only have the evidence of what has passed through our plane.”

Sagan then related this two-dimensional experience of the third dimension to how we might try to understand the fourth. To do so, he used the Tesseract, a four-dimensional cube, to demonstrate how difficult it is for us to perceive or visualize dimensions beyond our own three. At this point, Sagan is asking the viewer to expand their minds to understand the fourth dimension metaphorically.

Sagan’s demonstration of the fourth dimension isn’t just a wonderful explanation of a scientific idea that many of us find difficult to comprehend; it’s also a great example of how to teach complex ideas by combining clear explanations with thought-provoking visuals.

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

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Pete Davidson on "Saturday Night Live"

Singer Ariana Grande and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Pete Davidson were dating back in May of 2018.

Neither star had confirmed the relationship outright, but their reps weren't pushing back on reports claiming the two had linked up either. The singer and comedian's playful interactions on Instagram certainly suggested to fans the romance was budding.


While many celebrated the news, it inevitably came with a side of backlash too. Some of the criticism, however, crossed an unfortunate line.

Trolls began pointing to Davidson's history of mental illness to suggest he couldn't be in a healthy relationship.

The comedian felt it necessary to shut that down. Fast.

"Normally, I wouldn't comment on something like this cause like, fuck you," Davidson wrote in a note he shared to his Instagram story. "But [I've] been hearing a lot of 'people with BPD [Borderline Personality Disorder] can't be in relationships' talk. I just wanna let you know that's not true."

Davidson said he was diagnosed with BPD in 2016 after having lived through a "nightmare" year that involved rehab and grappling with the ups and downs of diagnosis. The comedian has also spoken openly about living with depression.

"Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they can't be happy and in a relationship," Davidson wrote. "It also doesn't mean that person makes the relationship toxic."

After noting there are many life-changing treatments available for people like him, Davidson emphasized the importance of combating stigmas associated with mental illness.

"I just think it's fucked up to stigmatize people as crazy and say that they are unable to do stuff that anyone can do," he wrote. "It's not their fault and it's the wrong way for people to look at things."

Davidson has been praised by mental health advocates for using his celebrity to humanize his illnesses — and poking fun at himself along the way.

In one "SNL" segment that aired shortly after he went public with his diagnoses, the comedian spoke candidly about his mental illness with "Weekend Update" host Colin Jost.

"If you're in the cast of a late-night comedy show, it might help if they, you know, do more of your comedy sketches," Davidson joked about ways others can help him get through his dark times. "I was born depressed, but it might make me feel better if I was on TV more."

Like many comedians, Davidson often uses brash and cringeworthy lines as a form of therapy to overcome trauma. His father died on 9/11, for instance, and the comedian's folded the devastating loss into his routine with a comedic spin.

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it certainly can help.

Davidson ended his message on Instagram clarifying why he decided to speak up in the first place.

"I'm simply writing this because I want everyone out there who has an illness to know that it's not true [that you can't be mentally ill and be in a relationship] and that anyone who says that is ill and full of shit," he wrote. "Mental illness is not a joke; it's a real thing."

"For all those struggling I want you to know that I love you and I understand you and it is going to be OK," Davidson concluded. "That's all. Love to everyone else."


This story originally appeared on 05.25.18

Woman shares 'immaculate' new way men hit on women

Relationships are as old as time itself. And nearly all of them have awkward beginnings. For men, there is often the expectation of taking action. You can't go too far without crossing ethical boundaries but if you're not assertive enough, good luck waiting to be swept off your feet. And for women, well, let's not even get started. As simple as love and attraction may appear on the surface, in practice they are anything but.

If it's a man approaching a woman, oftentimes the woman is unsure how the interaction will end should she not be interested. There are all sorts of reasons for apprehension on the woman's part that some men looking to court may not fully understand. But one woman has taken to social media to share her excitement over a "new way of hitting on women," which may help ease concerns. The woman goes by the name Tee Rex on Instagram and eagerly tells viewers from her car about an experience she just had.


"I just got hit on and I hate getting hit on but the way that this person hit on me was immaculate and I want to share because I feel like men are doing a tough, there's a lot of hate going towards men who are literally just trying to find love," the woman says.

She explains that he did "the normal thing" when men hit on women but immediately after asking for her phone number, the man says, "I am safe to reject."

"Just taking the extra steps to make a woman feel safe and respected goes a long way (sadly) so I’m glad you had this experience vs the far too common unsafe experience," one commenter said in response.

"Wow impressive and I would be even more impressed because he’s also demonstrating he has self worth enough not to lose it if he is rejected. Good quality," another woman praises.

"I thought this was going to be another bullsh*t tip… but I’m definitely adding this to my arsenal," one man writes.

Some men took the time to explain the concept to other men who are skeptical.

"Fellas if you haven't heard numbers of stories about how dudes be aggressive and retaliatory when getting rejected, you're living under a rock. A woman was recently murdered for this (not the first). The problem is we take this personally and it might seem ludicrous because some of us ourselves know that we're not like that. That still doesn't dismiss the fact that it happens A LOT to the point women have to plot ways of avoiding it. But this is social media, we gotta be contrary lol," one man explains.

"Crazy the number of dudes who see this as self-deprecating vs a reflection of both his social awareness and self-confidence. And for those who see this as defeatist - is it really a win if she’s only not saying no because she’s AFRAID," another man asks.

While saying the exact phrase, "I am safe to reject" may not be everyone's ideal line, if a man knows he wouldn't pose a risk to women after being rejected, it wouldn't hurt to put that out front.

Several men in the comments shared that they say things like, "It's cool if you say no" or "No pressure to say yes." These small phrases give women who may be feeling afraid from past experiences a sense of relief and the room to give an honest answer.

Pop Culture

Video shows how Gummy Bears are made in reverse

You’ll never look at a gummy bear the same way again.

Photo by Amit Lahav on Unsplash

Another type go gummy... Gummy Bears.

The first gummy bears were created in the 1920s by Hans Riegel, owner of the Haribo candy company in Bonn, Germany. Since, gummy candies have become popular worldwide and evolved to take the shapes of fish, sour patch kids, frogs, worms, and just about anything a clever candy maker can imagine.

But unlike the popular Disney '80s "Gummi Bears" cartoon, these sweet little guys don't come from a hollow tree in the forest. Sadly, their creation is a bit more terrifying.


In the video below, Belgian filmmaker Alina Kneepkens shows how the colorful snacks you bought at the movie theater actually began as pigskin. Yes, an NFL football and a gummy bear have the same humble beginnings. But if you're a vegan or vegetarian, there's no need to worry; there are candy manufacturers that make gummy bears out of agar and pectin so you can enjoy these fruity delights minus the swine skin.

Now, you know you want to sing along to this tune.

This article originally appeared on 9.3.21

Family

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.

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