Retaliation in the form of discrimination is what a Norfolk, VA, foster family is said to be experiencing. Social workers in the state have threatened to take away a foster child Sarah and Ben Fitzpatrick are currently taking care of with the explanation that because the child is black, he would be better off with a black family. But the couple says the threats are really retaliation for blowing the whistle on the foster care system.
When the Fitzpatricks lived in Virgina Beach, they took care of a baby named Braxton for seven months, but when the child was placed with another mother he was abused, and ultimately killed. The couple spoke out about the baby’s death and even landed a spot on News Channel 3, blaming social workers for missing signs that the baby was in an abusive environment, and afterward the Virginia Beach Human Services Director apologized and admitted workers had done a poor job of protecting Braxton.
The move obviously looked good for the press, but one week later, social workers appeared at the door of the Fitzpatricks and told them they were going to remove their current foster child to place him with a black family. In the five months that they’d cared for the child, Sarah said this was the first time any issue of color was mentioned.
Right as the news segment was set to air, the couple also received an email from their social worker, saying:
“Your appearance…on tonight`s news has caused some concern here. I want to talk to you about what is in your interview so that we can be prepared for any calls we may get… We are anxious about what is to come.”
The check the Fitzpatrick’s received to take care of the foster child also bounced, with the bank telling them there were “insufficient funds,” leading the couple to believe the social worker intends to make good on it’s promise to remove the child.
When Sarah appeared on Channel 3, she told the station:
“We had to do something to make a change, and there was nothing else we could do but contact you.”
Now it seems the foster system has decided that it’s better to silence the whistle blowers by removing children from their home rather than protect children who are actually in need of protecting.
What do you think about this case? Do you think the foster care system can justify their actions by saying a black child should be with a black foster family?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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