Summer is here! And it brings with it the annual Downey Side Gala.

We’ll be celebrating on June 23rd at the Lobster Shanty in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, and online, too. It’s a great night of cocktails and wonderful food by the water with a fantastic raffle that includes a 5-day trip to Costa Rico among other treasures.  (Click here for details and pass it on to your friends! For the online auction go to BidSpirit and search for Downey Side Adoptions.) 

Not only is this a fun event, but it also raises a significant amount of money for the agency, typically over $30,000.  Which itself raises the question, what does Downey Side do with the funds? And perhaps an even more significant question, why does Downey Side need this money in the first place? 

Our mission is pretty straightforward: Getting teens, tweens—and any siblings they have—out of foster care and into permanent families. But our logo, a heart encased by red tape, should be a clear sign that this is nowhere near as easy as it may sound. The simple truth is that getting kids out of foster care is an expensive proposition. 


Filling the gap

Much of the expense involves paperwork. Not surprisingly, there are numerous legal issues when the custody of a child is transferred from the state to a new family. Getting all the T’s crossed and I’s dotted is painstaking and time-consuming. It is a labor of love but it is labor nonetheless. 


Typically, a placement costs well over $20,000. Some money comes from the legal guardian, the government, some from the families themselves, and the rest we have to beg for. Because we help all kinds of families—we don’t judge—there are families who simply don’t have the financial resources to pay for the expense of adding a new member. So, we provide them the support. Which, ultimately comes mostly from people like you. 


Why is getting kids out of foster care so expensive? 

We believe the barriers to adoption should be minimal. However, the safety of the child needs to come first. And there’s a thicket of bureaucracy in place across the country ostensibly designed to ensure that. On a practical level, the one our agency social workers deal with daily, it means the system doesn’t run smoothly. 

The system is starved of funds, starting with the courts. There just aren’t enough judges to handle the volume of cases. Separating children from their birth parents—whether for negligence or abuse—is complicated. Then many states make an attempt to find suitable relatives before adoption by non-kinfolk is permissible. All of which takes time. A typical placement may take up to 18 months. Throughout these processes, the children are under the supervision of social workers and the chronic shortage of money in the system means workers are under-represented and overworked. So actually managing the kids is difficult. Honestly, the situation is so fraught, it’s impossible to determine how many children are in foster care at any given moment!  As you can imagine, when efficiency is absent, costs accumulate. 


A huge broken family

Imagine thinking through this from the children’s point of view. Kids don’t consider money the way adults do. What they are concerned about is the attention they receive from their parents. In foster care, the non-custodial parent is the state. What type of parent is the state? The most charitable term would be “absent”. A sort of giant absent parent who doesn’t pay enough child support, leaving its offspring without adequate school supplies, clothing and other essentials. (And let’s not get into emotional support.) 

To continue this analogy, foster parents are really just babysitters. When one set of babysitters has had enough, the absent parent has to hire new ones. This process gets repeated over and over. It’s not uncommon for kids to pass through a dozen or more foster homes.  Much like any broken family, the mood is one of perpetual crisis. Naturally, the system is only focused on the immediate crisis in front of it—getting new babysitters—rather than finding the long-term solution, a permanent family. 


So how does giving money to Downey Side help?

Having placed teens and tweens into permanent families for over fifty years, we like to believe our track record speaks for itself.  When you give us a donation, it goes to preparing families for the lengthy process of finding kids, then navigating the system to get them out. Ultimately, it means when we place kids they find permanency.  And we’re extremely good at keeping all our overheads to the bare minimum. So the vast bulk of any donation, big or small, really goes to serving children. 

What we’re not very good at is speaking loudly about ourselves. So, when you do donate, please tell all your friends. And even if you can’t give us a dime, you can spread the word. It all helps the children.

See you at the Gala or online! 


Yours for children,

Br. Terry Taffe, ofm Cap., MA, LMSW & Ian Keldoulis  

Remembering Father Paul Engel

Wake: Thursday, May 26, 2022

3:00 – 8:00 PM

Whalen and Ball Funeral Home, Yonkers, NY


Funeral: Friday, May 27, 2022

11:00 AM

Sacred Heart Church, Yonkers, NY

His funeral on Friday May 27 will be Live Streamed


Memorial Mass: Saturday, June 11, 2022

11:00 AM

Sacred Heart Church, Bay Head, NJ


You can share a memory or upload a favorite picture here:


You can share his obituary with friends here:

We saw this wonderful article from the Oregonian Newspaper and received permission to share!




Visibility for Foster Youth 

Dear Annie: Something not spoken about regarding oppression, disadvantages and privilege is the privilege people have when they have family. 

I grew up in foster care, and I see nearly zero percent representation of former foster youth anywhere in the media or in stories or headlines, unless, of course, it is about someone who entered foster care as a small child and then was adopted into a family, 

The problem is that this is a misrepresentation of former foster youth. The vast majority of foster youth never get adopted. 

Here are a few alarming statistics: Our homeless population across the country is nearly 50% made up of former foster youth; 7 out of 10 girls in foster care have a child before the age of 21; and half of all babies born to foster youth are taken and placed into foster care. 

We have high rates of suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, and early death. Our rate of post traumatic stress disorder rivals that of war veterans by twice as much. We graduate with a high school degree at nearly 30% of the population, and only 3% graduate from a four-year college. 

Every single social justice issue brought forth is about issues that never look at the most pressing and concerning parts of our country and world. With these outcomes, you’d think I would have died by now. Nobody adopted me, and I was kicked out of every single foster home I lived in. And I’m here gaining a degree and raising my own babies. 

But every foster youth story is about someone who gets adopted. It’s never about the outcomes we actually face

There is nothing about that in public discussions of oppression and privilege

It is a privilege that people seem to think everyone is afforded — to have a family. 

I think your readers need to understand that, especially when I see stories about people who were adopted and then get reunited with their biological parent(s) in later years. 

The entire point of these issues is never discussed, and quite frankly, it makes me extremely sad to see. — Family Privilege 







Dear Family Privilege: What an important point you make! Very often the media gets on a bandwagon of exploring one group of victims or another, and I understand your frustration at being left out. Lets hope there is more coverage about the trials and tribulations of foster youth. You sound like an amazing mother, and your children are fortunate to have you. Thank you so much for your letter. 


. 11. PI

Dear Annie: People often write to you complaining about social media posts, and you suggest they block or unfriend the poster

Another option is to “unfollow the person. I have quite a few friends and relatives who have strong opinions that are different from mine. Their brash, crude and sometimes untrue memes popped up on my page all the time

By “unfollowing” them, I can still go to their pages and see their social activities when I want to, but their political memes and name-calling aren’t in my face every time I log on. Unfollow 

Dear Unfollow: Thank you for your great suggestion, based on your success at staying in touch without being offended or getting riled up. 

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to 


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