EARLIER THIS YEAR, I spoke to a 23-year-old named Lauren, who told me about her foster care experiences. Her father had committed suicide when she was 6. Then her mentally ill mother became unable to care for Lauren and her siblings; a few years later, she also took her own life. Over the next 15 years, Lauren was moved around among nearly 20 Massachusetts foster homes, hospitals, and group homes. She told me she was repeatedly abused and prescribed potent cocktails of psychotropic drugs. Adults would promise they were going to adopt her, only to renege and find a way to blame her for it.
I’ve been thinking of Lauren a lot this November, which is National Adoption Month. Before we spoke, I was already a passionate advocate for adopting through foster care, having been an adoptive father for almost a year. I wondered if her life could have been different had she found a stable life sooner. Last time I heard from her, she was homeless in New York. “I want to effect change in the world,” she had told me then, “but I can’t do that because I have so many issues in my past that I haven’t dealt with.”