With few Muslim foster families in North Texas, Richland Hills clinic asks community to step up

Talaun Thompson and Dr. Basheer Ahmed outside the Muslim Community Center for Human Services in Richland Hills. The center is trying to enlist Muslim families to become foster parents to fill a void in the community.

By SARAH MERVOSH - - 29 December 2012

A lack of Muslim foster parents in North Texas means local Muslim children are almost always placed with families of other faiths, putting them in an unfamiliar cultural and religious environment and making a difficult process even harder.

A Richland Hills clinic doesn’t want foster children to face added stresses, like being served bacon when their religion forbids pork, or saying prayers in a bedroom with a cross on the wall. That’s why the Muslim Community Center for Human Services is offering up a challenge to local Muslims: Step up. Become a foster parent.

“It’s a service to humanity,” said Dr. Basheer Ahmed, who founded the clinic. “There’s definitely a bad need in the community.”

About 6,000 North Texas children are in foster care each year, according to Child Protective Services. In recent years, local community leaders say, there have been a handful of times when a Muslim foster home was needed but not available, including twice in the past few months.

A local spokesperson for Child Protective Services confirmed there are far fewer Muslim foster families in North Texas than families of other religions, or of no religion. Experts say this mirrors a national problem.

Of 4,000 families approved to foster and adopt children in one national database, only five are identified as Muslim, according to AdoptUSKids, a federally funded project that raises awareness about adoption and helps recruit and connect families with children who need homes.

Kathy Ledesma is national project director for AdoptUSKids. She said many Americans are motivated by their Christian faith to become foster parents. That may be well and good for Christian children, but it limits her organization’s ability to effectively place children of other religions.

“It’s really a disservice to children … to be in a home that has different traditions, with which the children are either uncomfortable or disagree,” she said. To place a Muslim child in a non-Muslim home is “really violating their religious freedom or their beliefs,” she added.

Ahmed hopes to address the problem through his Richland Hills community center. He wants to enlist at least a few Muslim families from North Texas to undergo training with CPS.

Ahmed said the high proportion of Muslims who are immigrants could partially explain the lack of foster parents. Many Muslims come to the United States from cultures where multiple generations — and, thus, plenty of caregivers — live under one roof.

“Back home, we had no concept of foster care,” said Ahmed, who was born in India.

And this lack of understanding can lead to fear and reluctance within the community, he said.

Though Islam requires adults to be honest with children about their family lineage, the religion endorses fostering and adoption, said Imam Zia Sheikh of the Islamic Center of Irving.

“Looking after orphans and taking care of them is actually encouraged in Islam,”
he said.

Jamal Qadurra, a Muslim legal assistant, is trying to arrange a conference to encourage the Muslim community to support foster parenting.

He said Muslims in North Texas should act as one large, extended family, in which everyone has a responsibility to help care for the young.

“This is what our religion calls for,
” he said. “We have a duty all to help each other.”

Foster information

For information about becoming a foster parent, contact the Muslim Community Center for Human Services at 817-589-9165.


http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/tarrant-county/headlines/20121229-with-few-muslim-foster-families-in-north-texas-richland-hills-clinic-asks-community-to-step-up.ece

comments:

This is a problem not only in Texas but nationally! These kids just need a Muslim home and environment, you don't even have to worry about the cost since the government pays you to take care of their expenses. This is a Muslim community responsibility, all Muslim communities in the west or non-Muslim lands should have a few foster parents registered within their community.

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