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foster children and religion

If you were to foster a child or befriend them, should you the agnostic/atheist, avoid ingraining your ideas-like buddhism (peaceful meditation practice) in the adopted child-who is practicing an abrahamic (Christianity/Islam) faith?
Would such an attempt have a backfiring effect on the child/teen who is sad/hopeless about family?

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  • 61 votes
anonymous 7 Jan 28

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I would not convert them, but i would try to teach them critical thinking skills. Let themn come to their own conclusions.



Option three, simply teach them to think and observe. I am disappointed that that was not considered to be an option.

In my area the Mennonites foster childern for the sole purpose of making new christians to join their sect.


I was a foster child and I felt extremely awkward having others beliefs pushed on me. Foster situations are difficult enough on children. I would try to be supportive of children continuing their beliefs but I wouldn't hide mine either. I would, however, try to teach them critical thinking skills and challenge them to question things so they could make their own choices.


Neither. Teach them how to think rather than what to think.

I would speak my mind, and tell tje truth, yet, depending on their age, I would, most likely, allow them to go to their own services. Of course, I wouldn't foster a kid too far gone in one of the extreme beliefs.

@Beowulfsfriend What a child has been taught and experienced is not their fault. To deny care to a child who needs it, because they've been harmed psychologically (including by religious dogma), seems very harsh. If that's your approach, I'd hope you wouldn't be fostering children, and your comment was irrelevant.

@LizZyG I don't disagree, at all. I have worked both as a teacher and a social worker with many damaged children - worse than religion often. That said, I, personally, know my limitations. I think I did well with those with whom I worked. I just know that I couldn't do that now in my life. Maybe 35 years ago.


How about just love the child and the religious bullshit can be dealt with later.
If a child is in foster care, or has been adopted, there are far more important matters that should take precedence.

It's hard work getting the religion out. Like a wine stain.

@rainmanjr My point is that if a child has already been through the system, they're either being fostered, or straight-up adopted, they've already been
through enough trauma on a base level.
Getting them sorted on an emotional basis takes priority over getting them out of religion.
Once they're on more solid emotional footing, then the issue of religion can be taken up.
If they learn to think critically, are exposed to other thought systems which are rooted in logic and reason, and read other books besides the bible, they are more likely to come to reason on their own.
They're also more likely to come to reason on their own if they're feeling secure in themselves and their surroundings and the people who are caring for them.
There are a lot of other things kids need in order to grow and be healthy both physically and emotionally.
When they're getting all those needs met, in a thoughtful, sensible, intelligent manner, they are going to far more open to realizing that they don't need religion.


I wouldn't want to push any religion or non-religion on them. Let them come to their own conclusions and beliefs. I've fostered kids and adopted two. I'll certainly give my opinion when asked but I make sure that to say that It's my opinion. If they can think for themselves I've done good, IMO.


I'm not going to actively try to convert anyone, but I will encourage critical thinking skills and ask lots of hard questions on faith related manners. I don't expect to ever foster a child, but I do have grandchildren, and one of them has a catholic daddy. Well, mom is a non believer so he is going to have a broad view, but I will encourage allllll sorts of questions. And if he is ever an altar boy, he will get lots of questions from Grammy. No funny priests around my boy.


I would add a third item "Help them have independent ideas". Critical thinking is of prime importance but it often has to be encouraged. It seldom just happens.


I would respect their right to believe whatever they want. But I will also let them know that I'm an atheist, and if they start a discussion about it, I would back it up with facts and evidence.


My daughter (step) is Thai and went to a Catholic school in Aust. They had meditation class and were told to have hands upraised on knees. She refused and folded hands in her lap as they do in Buddhist Thailand. Teacher rang me up.
Very proud of her that day as she stood up for herself against her peers. Told the teacher to get over it.


My first move would be to lobby the state legislature that's paying for-profit foster care placement agencies and foster parents, instead of funding services and support for families whose kids are being stolen from them. Kansas is notorious for it, but not alone. The U.S. government is paying companies to remove immigrant children from families and funneling them into foster care, where foster parents are paid as well. Foster care as a for-profit industry needs to be challenged at every turn by everyone who says they care about humanity.

Sorry but I cannot bear any discussion of foster care without calling out the inherent evil of removing children from parents in a society that shames and blames poor, addicted, abusive parents for lack of decent wages, housing, health care, education, et. al. America sucks and we're all part of the problem if we defend the status quo instead of challenging it from the depth of our beings.

But I think you'd agree you also can't leave kids with abusive parents? It continues a cycle of violence. So what's the answer?

And I meant that sincerely. I've seen generations brought down by the same family issues. It's disheartening when it appears preventable - but the system in some way feeds into it. Sometimes by NOT taking the kids out of the parents hands.

@RavenCT Let's FIRST address the tragedy of a corporate-government system that pays lobbyists to extract children from their homes. Then we can talk about the edge cases.

@Bobbyzen I can't agree that the tragedy you mention outweighs or must come before the tragedy she has mentioned. Your argument is not making enough sense to me.

No child should be pulled from a good home, but some children should be pulled from an abusive one. We can tackle both problems at once. Indeed, we ought to. What difference does it make if I even accept your assertion that abusive-parent foster situations are edge cases?

@Shawno1972 @RavenCT

Are there real cares of abuse? Yes. But most Americans are unaware of how the corporate foster care system works to extract poor children from their homes. Rather than address root causes, like raising the minimum wage that has not effectively risen since the 1970’s, and homelessness / lack of affordable housing, and health care expenses (we’re still the only major nation without free healthcare), and lack of affordable daycare, and lack of services and support for drug and alcohol abuse, and inadequate support for veterans suffering PTSD — I could go on.

But instead, we fund the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act to pay $4,000 to $6,000 to private agencies for every permanent placement of a child in a foster home.

Because if lobbyists. Corporate ownership of our politicians, who are just middlemen in the Corporate States of America.

Here’s a couple of sources on the tragic state of America ripping children from their homes in favor of corporate profits. It’s outrageous and maddening and frightening to those of us who know affected families.


@Bobbyzen I don't question the problem. I have no reason to believe you're wrong about it. What I asked is why you think we can't attempt to solve two problems at once - in other words, your assertion that removing abused kids from terrible homes shouldn't be tackled until this other problem is solved.

You see, I have my own first-hand story of how an abused kid's life was made better by foster parenting. You don't think that should have waited for the tragedy you're referring to be solved, do you?

Trick question. The only correct answer is, "Of course not."

Thus underscoring @RavenCT's excellent point.

@Bobbyzen I agree those issues all need solving. I think frankly we are reaching a tipping point where either a lot will be solved or we turn into a country I'd rather not be a part of.
I still want kids pulled from abusive parental homes though - whatever the cause. That foster homes can also sometimes be abusive isn't beyond my notice either - but we have to at least try to do better. (Given the system we have).

@RavenCT thank you for that. I’m afraid I am just overwhelmed with all the shit going on in the world. Normally I had a caveat along the lines of, and shit was bad before Trump, so don’t blame him for everything. But today Trump announced a so-called piece plan That actually enshrines Forever iIsraeli annexation of the West Bank. As an American Jew who craves peace in the region, I believe it begins with recognizing Palestinians, finally, as human beings worthy of freedom, liberty, a life with dignity. I am on edge and I apologize for my stubborness.

@Bobbyzen that man hurts so many - it's unimaginable to me. Hang in there - maybe we can vote him out if not impeach him.
I totally understand why that would set you on edge.

I'll agree the foster system in ks is shite. But these are not 'edge' cases. The majority in foster care in ks are due to drugs and sex trafficking. Talking to them is heart-rending. I've been trying to adopt out of foster care for ages now. Apparently, since I'm not a 20 something stay at home mom from a religious home, the chances are slim to none.


I would expose them to ALL faiths, and explain how they all promote a code of social conduct - and then explain you don't even need to have a religion to behave decently. That they have choice!


One option is to teach him/her logic, reason and critical thinking skills. Then he/she can decide for him/herself.


Their beliefs are their own business and we should respect that. Foster parents should not be trying change or alter an already established belief system, however if the child wishes to initiate a conversation about faith or belief then the foster carer should be candid about their own views. It would be totally out of order for a foster parent to try to “ingrain” their own viewpoint or practices on any child, regardless of whether the child was practicing a religion or not. What would be beneficial, would be to encourage the child to ask questions, read, and be curious about everything.


I don't ever attempt to convert anybody. I openly express my own beliefs and answer any questions. That's as far as I go.


One should not be a dictator but a facilitator. Encourage the child's critical thinking.


I can't imagine a world where i thought i had the right to proselytize to people who were minding their own business. Be they older or younger.


I was a foster child. I bounced from home to home for years through seven homes from 11-18. Each home was Christian, and each home was a different denomination, and each one asserted their idea was right and the last family was mistaken.

Each family in a desire to make you feel included, includes you in their life (Duh, your in their fucking family!), and this includes religion. I was never "forced" to believe but I was obligated to attend and "be nice, polite, and observant of the way they did things. Not to do so would cost you in some way, chores, groundation, or even horror as might well be behind that door.
So you don't open that.

I never saw this as an attempt by a foster family to indoctrinate me into their religion, but an attempt to make me feel like a part of their family.

In the end the effect was to show me there is no "Christian" religion, rather there are dozens of competing religious ideologies under the umbrella of "Christianity", but they do not believe the same things about core issues like salvation.

Sorry you had to deal with foster homes. Glad that at least with respect to religion, it was not forced upon you.


I would say you can present it as who you are, what your family does, but not expect the child to participate in it. Meditation without any religious overtones could be presented to the child as a way of managing stress and might be an extremely useful tool for a child experiencing difficult personal situations. Non-religious meditation has even been taught in public schools, so I don't see it as a controversial teaching in today's day and age.


I would make them aware that I am an atheist but would take them where they wanted to go to continue what they already were doing if they wanted. One horrible run on sentence.


Teach objectionable truths and let them do with it what they want. Mental freedom is just as important as liberty and physical freedom. Including the freedom to be ignorant.


I'm of the philosophy that people all should indulge themselves in their own beliefs, and that I ought not have a say in it at all. What one should demonstrate to any and all children is honesty, rationality, and a sense of independence, among other things. I don't think that can be done through any kind of "conversion" attempt, whether that's to atheism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Flying-Spaghetti-Monsterism (aka Pastafarianism).


We're moving accross the street from some JW's and will be hiring thier 15 y/o son to do yardwork/gruntwork we don't want to do. If he tries to convert or witness he'll be informed that I'll be willing to listen to him as long as I get equal time for him to listen to me - length not importaint, just equal.

But I in no way want to do this. We'll live life the best way we can and if he sees we're not some raging monsters that deserve to be condemned to hell for all eternity itd have much more of a lasting impact than me forcing him to convert - thats how he became a JW to begin with, after all.

1of5 Level 8 Jan 28, 2020

Good news either way: the JDubs don't believe in "hell" the way most other Christian faiths do. To them, dead = dead for non-believers. He'll assume instead that you just won't get the "everlasting life" thing.

Try hard for opening time. Each should get a minute to kind of state their premise and then each point needs to be debated on its own merit. I pay too much attention to politics.

@rainmanjr yes, you do, and thanks for the advice, but no thanks


I checked let them have independent beliefs but I would still be there to ask logical questions that might cause them to think later. In doing this you teach them how to think.

Why was this not considered to be an option in the poll? Niether of the options are viable.


Teaching critical thinking is a constant activity.... there is no such thing as "converting" anyone to Atheism .....I would never adopt a brainwashed child.... as for this weekend observing believers celebrating an alleged temporary torture death of an alleged hybrid human crossed with an alleged gawd ..... I compare that xian lunacy to killing a chicken and reading the future staring at the bloody internal organs ...both santeria & xian practice is insane animal sacrifice ....only geebush jeehobah ghostholes is not a real animal to ever exist

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