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What comes to mind when you think about foster kids?

Maybe you imagine a troubled child who is a juvenile delinquent. Or an angry, "difficult" child that is never happy, like this:




Unfortunately tantrum-free children do not exist. Photo by Christine Szeto/Flickr.

There are plenty of stereotypes that exist for children who don't, for some reason, have a "forever family." By when you hear the words "foster kids," how often do you think of this:

Image via Together We Rise.

Over 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are waiting for a permanent home.

And some never stop waiting. Many turn 18 before they can find a family, so more than 20,000 children end up aging out of the system every year. But with an estimated 81.5 million Americans who have considered adopting, the obvious question is "why?" If so many people want to be parents and so many kids need loving homes, why are so many children left in the foster care system?

Some advocates suspect the negative stereotypes of kids in foster care may be part of the reason.

Unfortunately, this is the reality of many foster children before the age 18. GIF from Together We Rise/Facebook.f

The advocacy group Together We Rise wants to help challenge these stereotypes.

One of the ways they do that is by sharing beautiful photos of children on one of the happiest days of their lives: adoption day. Posting them is one of the ways they hope to spread the word about adopting through foster care and reminding people that foster children are exactly that: precious children who deserve joy and bring happiness to thousands of families every day.


By sharing families' adoption day photos, they aim to flip the script on the conversation about the foster system by sharing success stories.

Adoption day photos (also lovingly called "gotcha day" photos) are pictures taken and shared as a public celebration of a foster child's adoption. The posts give us a real look at the face of foster care and the people who adopt children in the system.


These photos aren't just heartwarming — they're representative of the shift in attitudes about adoption.

A 2013 study by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption shows that Americans now have a more favorable view of adopting through foster care rather than international adoption or private infant adoption. And while the number of adoptions have dropped across the board, the amount of people adopting from foster care has actually increased.


A quick perusal of these photos make one thing clear: There's not just one type of foster kid. And they all deserve a permanent home.



Want to help the numbers to keep going in the right direction? Follow Together We Rise and spread the word. Let's create more "gotcha" moments and happy endings for the thousands of kids just waiting to be loved!

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


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