The other day I added a case to the Charley Project, a 21-year-old woman who’s been missing for over a year. I won’t say her real name here, because there’s a good chance she will return home alive, and I don’t want this blog to come back to haunt her in terms of future employment prospects, etc. I’ll call her Beth. There don’t seem to be any indications of foul play in her case, but the police are concerned for her safety, since she has both mental health problems and substance abuse issues.
When I was researching the case for the write-up, I came across an article about Beth’s adoption from foster care. The article didn’t say when she’d been placed in care or why, but did note that her biological mother died when she was a toddler and her biological father wasn’t really a part of her life. She lived with relatives who “relinquished custody” to the foster care system at some point. She then had multiple foster placements, which is typical. When Beth was seventeen years old, her foster mother adopted her.
It’s very uncommon for an adolescent to get adopted; most prospective adoptive parents want babies and young children. Hence the article about this rare instance of an almost-adult being adopted. The judge who legally finalized the adoption paid for balloons and gift bags to celebrate the occasion. The article had photos of Beth and her mom hugging each other, and the reader can imagine them walking hand-in-hand into a happily-ever-after future.
Then, four years later, Beth disappeared. The photo on the poster appears to have been a mug shot. I really hope she’s okay and will get in touch with her mom.
I’ve seen quite a few cases on my site of people who were adopted out of foster care, grew up troubled and disappeared. The foster care system isn’t designed to actually raise children, it’s just designed to keep them alive and protect them from abuse and neglect. (And it’s not even very good at that.) I think any child who spent years in care, like Beth did, is going to have some emotional problems as a result, both from being bounced around in the system and from whatever led to them being placed in care to begin with.
Certainly love, and the permanency of adoption, does wonderful things for foster children. But love can’t fix everything.