‘He’s in survival mode’: Child forced to leave foster parents who’d raised him since birth
“We love you more than anything in the world.”
Those were the words of a foster dad as he said goodbye to his nine-year-old foster child, whom he had raised since birth.
Frightened and confused, the child refused to leave the only home he’d ever known.
“Make sure you use your words because your words can be powerful,” the dad said.
“If you love me, you’ll leave me where I am,” the child cried.
It was the scene caught on video in December 2016 when the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development decided it was time the boy went back to live with his birthmother and biological sister, who was also raised in foster care.
The foster dad – who is being referred to simply as “John” in order to protect the child’s identity – and his wife had cared for the boy since he was only seven months old. The child called him “Daddy.”
“[It was] more crushing than anyone will ever know,” John told Global News. “When you see a child – that all he knows is the house he was brought up in for almost nine years – being taken away.”
The young boy was ultimately persuaded to live with his birthmother after being reassured he could keep in touch with his foster parents.
But weeks later, John says he received a worrisome email from the child, saying, “HELP.”
“When I tried to contact back, there was no answer,” John said. “I was forced at that particular time to call 911. He had, in his message, said, ‘I am home alone,’ and he’s underage. That should never happen.”
After that incident, communication was severed. The foster parents say they haven’t spoken to the boy in six weeks, even though social workers had promised him two phone calls a week.
“In cases where foster parents don’t feel like they’re heard by the ministry, there are protocols they can go through and people they can talk to to get further information within the system,” said Trisha Myers, manager of issue management with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
The system failed this time, say John and his wife, who have fostered about 50 children. The majority of the children have been transitioned back to their birth families.
In their opinion, government policy trumped the emotional needs of a vulnerable child who just wasn’t ready.
“I think he’s in survival mode right now,” John said. “My biggest fear is something may happen to him.”
“Daddy loves you,” John said through tears. “Be strong.”
~ with files from Jill Slattery
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.