The Cunninghams have endured every family's worst nightmare. After both of the parents were injured at their jobs and were prescribed pain meds, it led them to spiral into addiction. For years, they struggled to rehabilitate. During that time, the North Carolina state child services agency placed their four children in foster care.
But both Brandon and Sylvia Cunningham were dedicated to turning their lives around in order to get their children back
. And they did: they got sober, took parenting classes, found multiple jobs, and cleaned their lives up. That's why the courts ultimately determined that they could be safe parents again.
Their story didn't end happily
, though. The Cunninghams only got three out of their four of their children back
from the North Carolina state foster care system. The remaining child was given up permanently for adoption. The reason? Because the Cunninghams still owed the state money for foster care.Sign now to tell Congress: an unpaid foster care bill should not result in families being ripped apart! Make it illegal for parents to lose kids over these bills!
The state of North Carolina literally stole a child from his parents because their parents could not afford to pay a bill. The state could have chosen many other routes or options. But instead it chose to take their youngest child as, essentially, punishment and payment
for their debts.
And North Carolina isn't the only state that does this. In at least 11 other U.S. states, it is legal for state agencies to adopt away your child due to your failure to pay up.
Many people who have kids in the foster care system are living in poverty, trying to secure stable housing and improve the conditions in order to get their children back. This is, quite simply, a tax on the poor
, and it is completely immoral. In fact, failure to pay for foster care came up in 30% of the cases where parents permanently lost their children
, according to a recent NPR investigation.
Parents and children deserve to be together, not to be ripped apart because they can't afford an outstanding payment. Sign the petition now to demand that Congress make it illegal for parents to lose their kids over an unpaid foster care bill!