FAQ About Foster Children

Below we have listed the frequently asked questions about foster children, our organization, family finding and gift-giving. We also get questions from the public, so you will probably find answers to a question you've always had.

foster youth san diego

What is Family Finding?

Our organization finds family members of U.S. foster children who are still living in Mexico. Most people would describe this work as finding families. However, this activity of identifying, locating and notifying a foster child's relatives is called "family finding" by the Department of Human Services and social workers. State and federal laws that are passed concerning foster children also reference to this specific term.

So we tend to use the term "family finding" because our organization often has to do more than just find a relative. We often work to identify family members that no one knows about so that there is the greatest possible chance that a foster child will be reconnected with at least one blood relative.

If there so many kids in the USA, why do
people go to other countries to adopt kids?
Shouldn't we help ourselves first?

I think people go to other countries in part because people here don't know about these children. They don't hear about the 100,000 foster kids that are ready for adoption. Some may feel these foster children are in foster care because they are delinquents. As I mentioned before, many people want babies and children under 5 years old.

Once a foster child reaches 12 years old, their possibility of being adopted drops to less than 1%. And don't believe that foster children don't know this reality. They know they are now locked into the foster care system unless something happens like having their relatives located. These are the cases we receive the most, cases where the agencies are desperate because they know the stats. They know that if a relative isn't found for a foster youth, then that child will stay in the system until they age out.

Here's one last thought. Years ago potential foster parents could get a child in about six months. Now depending on where people go and the cost for services, that process could take years and in some cases, especially with relatives, these people are turned down for adoption. Clearly there are issues and a pressing need to streamline the adoption policy in the U.S. to encourage more people to adopt a foster youth. There is no one solution. Both locating relatives who may want to be foster parents and robust adoptions are two good solutions to helping foster children.

Are we finding families in Mexico to
send the kids back to their families there?

I can always count on John Baker to ask great questions. We don't search for relatives in Mexico with the express purpose of sending a foster child to Mexico. We do search in Mexico because foster care agencies are required by law to notify relatives, even those in Mexico. Often these are the only known relatives besides the parents.

Once we find relatives in Mexico, they often know of other family members in the U.S. that the agency couldn't find or didn't know about. The end result has always been that the child either goes to live with their U.S. relatives or are adopted by U.S. foster parents.

One huge reason why these kids aren't sent to Mexico is that almost all are U.S.-born and at least one parent is U.S.-born. As I mentioned in a recent blog about foster kids, no one, the judge or social services, wants to send a U.S. citizen to another country unless there is some amazingly strong reason to do so. I know there are cases where the circumstances did make sending a foster kid to Mexico to live with relatives made sense. We've never handled a case where that was the result.

There was a case highlighted in the San Diego papers about two years ago. The boy was sent to live with his grandmother in Mexico, but the boy had more energy than the grandmother and he got involved with the cartel. He was captured at 15 years old in the U.S. and put on trial for being a top assassin for the cartels. A horrific story of utter failure by social services by not checking that the grandmother could really handle the boy. She couldn't and I think the boy is now in federal prison.

Is my Donation Tax Deductible?

It depends. Not everyone can take advantage of tax deductions, only if you itemize your deductions using a Schedule A. If you don't itemize your taxes, then there is no use for a tax deduction.* However, your donation is greatly appreciated by the foster children you help.

Why Media Arts Center?

You may be thinking "What does a media center have to do with foster children?" That's a good question. Like many socially conscious organizations, our purpose is to do social good. In 2012, we decided the way to do this was to have a fiscal sponsor so donors could have tax deductions as an incentive to give.

Family finding

Unfortunately, many non-profits that offer to be a fiscal sponsor have a menu of products and services that the sponsored has to buy. If we are paying money for services to an organization, we have less money to devote to family finding and moving children out of foster care. As a donor, we're sure you want your money to do as much good as possible.

Media Arts Center San Diego (MACSD) charges a very modest amount to be our fiscal sponsor. And there was a very important reason to ally Find Families In Mexico with their organization. Among their many projects, they created the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

Now in its 21st year, this movie festival attracts producers, writers, directors and actors from all across Latin America. People who may not be famous to non-Hispanics are household names for Latinos. Actors from telenovelas, the cultural equivalent of daytime soap operas, and international movies participate in the festival each year.

joking around
Joking around with Arap Bethke, Mexican actor
joking around
Alejandra Barros, actress, relaxing with Richard

By allying Find Families In Mexico with MACSD, we receive exposure to these movers and shakers and have opportunities to get our message out to the Hispanic community both in the U.S. and abroad.

Working with MACSD is a strategic business move and one that benefits our donors all of which ultimately leads to our moving more children out of foster care.

Are All Hispanic Foster Children Undocumented?

No. There is a general perception by the public that if a foster child is Hispanic, it automatically means they are in the U.S. without documents. Could this be true? Yes. Is this often the case? No.

Family finding For instance, a Hispanic child could be second generation Mexican-American. This means at least one grandparent was born in Mexico, and at least one parent was born in the U.S. In this case the child was also born in the U.S. So we have a U.S.-born child of U.S.-born parents, and the child is Hispanic.

Also if you are familiar with Texas and the Rio Grande River, you know there have been times when because of a great storm, the river moved. People would be living in Texas one day and living in Mexico the next and visa versa. This also means one day you may have been a Mexican citizen and the next, you and your property were part of Texas.

Bottom line: sometimes issues aren't as clear cut as people would like them to be.

How Does a Child Get Into Foster Care?

There are several ways in which a child comes to be in foster care.

  • The child was removed from the home because they were being physically or sexually abused.

  • The child was in an environment where there was criminal activity (a parent was making, using or selling drugs).

  • The parent(s) abandoned the child, died or were killed.

Why Aren't Counties Paying for Family Finding?

That is a great question. A study in 2008 showed that there are huge savings ($200,000 per month) if just 37 children were placed out of foster care. Perhaps the officials who decide which programs get more funding do not know about this study and the cost-savings for taxpayers.

A few social workers have shared that government bookkeeping isn't as straight forward as what you or I might imagine, making it difficult to know where money is used or moved to. We don't have a definite answer for you at this time. What we do know is that regardless of the reasons, by federal and most state laws all adult family members are to be located and notified when their child relative(s) is in U.S. foster care.

Are there any petitions we can sign to support
the age limit to be raised for foster children?

These matters are handled at the state level, and we don't know which state is currently looking at increasing the "aging out" for foster teens from 18 to 21. To date about half of the states such as California and Tennessee have raised the age when foster youth are forced out of the foster care system to 21. However, there's all this effort to provide services for three more years to foster kids when agencies aren't doing a quality search to find relatives. Do that and this issue of aging out is irrelevant except for a few kids.

I thought that foster kids had to leave the homes at 18?
Do they get state help or money when they are 18?

In half the states, yes, foster kids do have to leave their foster home. At this time about half of the state have extended the age to 21.

As for whether foster youth get help or money from the state when they age out, it's not very good. Foster teens really don't get a steady support. They may leave with $100 in their pocket and a garbage bag of clothes. That's about it. There are community programs popping up, and some of these have been successful in helping foster children transition out of foster care. However, a real problem is that these kids don't know about these programs, or the programs are limited.

What about all those thousands of kids that came
across without their parents illegally earlier this year?

As far as we know, those children are being handled by the federal government and are not part of the foster care system that is handled at the county or state level.

Got a Question We Didn't Answer?

former foster teen san diego Let us know if you have a question or concern that was not addressed. The more you share with us, the better we can provide the information people such as you want to know. Use the Facebook form below and write in your comments.

We'll respond and let you know when we have posted new information. And be sure to donate so you can help make a lasting impact on the life of a foster child.



* Disclaimer: Information on this site about tax deductions is not intended to replace professional tax advice. To ensure you can take a deduction, please talk with your accountant, bookkeeper or the IRS.

Family finding
Read about foster teen reunited with his grandmother and ... more.



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Reunite a foster child with family. Family finding

Foster Children:
The Challenges to Getting Them Out of Foster Care

Foster Child report reveals:

  • How children come into the U.S. foster care system

  • The terrible future foster teens face when they "age out"

  • Why it's so important to locate their relatives and more.

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Find Families In Mexico
9450 Mira Mesa Blvd, Suite C520  San Diego, California 92126 USA
Phone: 760.690.3995   Fax: 617.608.2381

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