Lost in the System

Lost in the System

4.3 6
by Susan Dworkin, Charlotte Lopez
With warmth and spirit, Charlotte Lopez recounts her search for permanence, stability, and love. This is the inspiring story of a young woman who triumphed against tremendous odds to achieve a long-cherished dream--her own family. Includes 40 photos.


With warmth and spirit, Charlotte Lopez recounts her search for permanence, stability, and love. This is the inspiring story of a young woman who triumphed against tremendous odds to achieve a long-cherished dream--her own family. Includes 40 photos.

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Kirkus Reviews
A foster child who ricocheted around the system and emerged as Miss Teen USA writes trenchantly about her experiences.

Daughter of a mentally disturbed Puerto Rican mother, raised in a series of foster homes in chilly Vermont, Lopez grew up rootless and confused about her identity and her future. By the time she was a year old, she had experienced two foster placements; at three, she was on her fourth. The fifth foster family, the Wensleys, provided a home for the next 11 years. Although she had been separated early on from her older brother, Lopez's younger sister, Diana, stuck with her from home to home, in line with generally accepted social service practice: Keep siblings together, if possible. They anchored each other through a long period of adjustment; Diana settled in at the Wensleys while Charlotte never stopped feeling dislocated. She yearned to be adopted. The Wensleys, willing at first, grew reluctant. "Adopting two impoverished kids was a huge financial commitment," Lopez writes, "which they feared they would not be able to afford." Charlotte, by then a teenager, began clashing so frequently with her foster family that she moved to a group home. She began her quest to be Miss Teen USA, winning the title in 1992. It gave her a unique opportunity to become a spokeswoman for foster children. She was also reunited with her brother and adopted, at the age of 17, by a Vermont couple. The book's final chapter has suggestions for the professionals, which boil down to: Listen to the children; they know what's missing in their lives and where it hurts.

Written in plain and simple prose (with the help of Dworkin, coauthor of The Ms. Guide to Women's Health), this is a story of a foster child who made good—and is seizing the opportunity to become an eloquent spokeswoman for all those children who have shared her predicament.

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5.50(w) x 8.44(h) x 0.52(d)

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Lost in the System 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Winelover1 More than 1 year ago
In 1993-94, Ken Grant of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, now a Home Depot employee, wrote a book entitled "The Wanderer" ,detailing his experiences as an abandoned and abused boy bouncing around in state child care. He wrote the book not as an expose but to help society as a whole understand better the plight of unwanted youth. In 1995 the book was made into a movie script by Ken at the request of some friends of Marty Bauer( who were his foster parents at one time). owner of United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills,California. Over the ne3xt 2 years the fate of the script and book remain a mystery but it has been speculated that an option was purchased on the script and this knowledge kept from Ken.Following the script and unpublished manuscript going to Hollywood, a massive discrediting and harassment campaign began against Ken to discredit his claims of how kids are treated when unwanted in America. This even involved a New Hampshire campaign organizer for Obama.It is said govermnet personnel began a massive discrediting campaign over embarassment by America in its treatment of the unwanted. Ken became a major target simply for trying to help enlighten others on strengths and weaknesses in the system and by highlighting individuals who shine despite a system which often ties their hands. A few years after the book and script began circulating,Ken was accused of causing the massive fallout in the Whitey Bulger case which has taken place. In his book and script names of people were changed to retain the subsistence of the story while protecting privacy of those involved. Ken was invited by Dr. John Calicchia of Bridgewater State college to discuss portions of his unpublished manuscript to graduate students after a portion of the manuscript was given to the students prior to the lecture ( it appears Ken might not know what was actually passed out to the students beforehand). So why would Ken be associated with the Whitey Bulger case? Why would Ken be invited to lecture students then suddenly become persona non grata? Why would a Democratic campaign manager in New Hampshire with ties to Jeanne Shaheen,Mike Dukakis,Jimmy Carter,Obama, Gary Hart Pinkerton Academy and many more be involved in a discrediting campaign against someone who simply tried to tell the world that unwanted kids need their help and love? Here is a guy who, without family support of any kind spent 18 years going to college nights working 70-105 hours per week to get a degree, who by age 20 had paid $30,000 in rent and who posed little financial burden from age16 onward.Here is a guy who was forced to break granite boulders 5 feet tall and with a 10-15 foot circumference with a sledgehammer 10-14 hours per day in the hot summer sun at a hard labor camp sponsored by the Dept. of Social Services because he simply had no family to go and nowhere else to place him. Here is a guy who at age 16 was assessed by state subcontractors and recommended for college immediately who 'fell between the cracks'. And this is what happened to someone who tried to make a difference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When i read this, i was angry, sympathetic, and resentful. Several years before Charlotte wrote her book, i had written a book about my experiences in 2 decades of state care without ever being adopted. I did not have the opportunity that the pageant brought to Charlotte in terms of national exposure and the deals that can result from that. I was angry because in reading the story in the context of my own life of abuse,neglect and bouncing around 5-600% more than Charlotte, her woes as a foster child seemed pretty lightweight to me. I was sympathetic because many of the observations she made were right on, only more amplified with greater instability or degree. And i was resentful that she had found some caring people such as the Scheps and the Wensley families. The Scheps sound like the kind of people i dreamed about and cried myself to sleep many a night until one day there were no more tears. All my grief was gone and i was numb. But then i thought of the good Charlotte has done in using her exposure as a platform to heighten awareness of the issues of foster children. Writing a book such as Lost in the System is generally not a big profit taker, but anyone who walks away and gets something out of it in terms of understanding throwaway kids is one more ally in this forgotten corner of American society. It was painful for me to read some of the passages in this book , for it dredged long -forgotten feelings and this shows a shared quality of experience. I have known persons such as Janet Henry and the enormous patience she must have. One must wonder how her life must be both gratifying and sad; gratified to help kids no one else will, and sad to bond with kids only to see them leave. The Wensleys impressed me a great deal for it must have been no small feat for them to show the humility needed to change their approach from strict Fundamentalist Protestantism to a more compassionate tone as evidenced by Charlotte's visits following their separation. I also understand fully the financial considerations the Wensleys faced, as while i was growing up foster parents had no reservations about making me feel unworthy of even food or clothes. Fortunately, Charlotte was spared this. And when i read about the Scheps, i felt enormous gratitude to them for helping Charlotte realize her dream. I did not get that dream and i know the pain i have felt my whole life. Because the Scheps have more caring than the two of them can hold, they have truly changed Charlotte's life forever. I have seen many peers die, become drug addicts/dealers, prostitutes, absentee parents, prisoners and each time i saw it i saw some of me in them. In Charlotte i see the past i never had but by her sharing her story i got a glimpse into a life i wish i could have had and for a few hours i forgot. Knowing that there are people like the Scheps, the Wensleys, Janet Henry and Charlotte Lopez not forgetting to thank them reassures me there are still good people in the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is atribute to those who care about kids and a sad reminder of those who don't.As a former state orphan, i had over 60 different workers and the care was slipshod because so many people with such little knowledge about my case were involved.At least one other person has tried to do what Ms. Lopez has done here and been blackballed and harassed by the federal government. Maybe Ms. Lopez will someday write a continuation to let us know how things turned out in the long run!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does an unnerving but necessary job of awakening people to challenge them to re-establish their priorities in life. What becomes of our disposable children? What fate lies ahead for them?Are we moving towards a society in which there will be baby farms and people will not care who the parents are? Are kids who are abandoned used to meet quotas in the more clandestine branches of our government? Are they used as guinea pigs,social and otherwise?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some issues that are raised by a book such as this are: - how do states control religious/spiritual expose of children in their care? - Why is it difficult if not impossible for kids as adults to gain access to their records from the state they were raised in by workers who determined their futures by their reports? - Are kids in the system a reflection of dysfunctional parents, a dysfunctional society, or both? - Is having a kid raised and overseen by perhaps dozens of state employees with but cursory knowledge of the kid's personal history desirable? - why arent' state workers better paid and so have more expectations made of them? - why do most foster parents get involved? is it an attempt at experimental parenting, for the money, or to boost their image in the community?
Guest More than 1 year ago
An interesting account of the emotional turmoil and uncertainty in not having a solid home recommended for those who take their own homes for granted! This story is sooo similar to that of Ken Grant's in describing the bouncing around and frustration that occurs.