Created By: Ghilz on January 23, 2010 Last Edited By: Catbert on February 29, 2012
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Fostering For Profit

Foster parents that take in a child only for the money.

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Fostering for Profit is scenario where a foster family treats the raising of a foster child purely as a business. They are in it only for the money the kid brings in. Therefore they spend on the kid as little as possible. They are also emotionally and often physically abusive towards the children.

There are several possible ways this scenario can work. In some stories, the real parent of the child (almost always a single mother) is still alive, but can not take care of the child herself, so she makes her own arrangments to have a family take care of the child while she sends them her own money to assist in raising the child. A

In modern stories, a more common scenario is for the children to be in the custody of the state but placed in a foster home. In this scenario, the government gives the foster parents money that is supposed to go toward taking care of the child.

This can be very similar to an Orphanage of Fear. See also Abusive Parents, Department of Child Disservices and Wicked Stepmother.

Examples

Comic Books

Film
  • Taken to evil, and all too real, extremes in Slumdog Millionaire.
  • In the movie Hotel for Dogs, near the end of the film, the brother gets shipped off to one of these... and is miserably unhappy.
  • There's a family like this in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's "not quite a remake of The Parent Trap" movie, It Takes Two.

Literature
  • In The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Squeers takes in unwanted children for a high fee, and starves and mistreats his charges while using the money sent by their parents to pad his own pockets.
  • In the book White Oleander, the main character ends up in one of these, with a woman who lives in an opulent house funded by the checks sent for the various girls she takes in, spending very little on the girls themselves, including putting a lock on the fridge when she isn't home (which is most of the time). The movie version left this out.
  • The Tenardiers in Les MisÚrables bleed Fantine dry with their demands for more money for Cosette, while coercing labour from the girl and stinting on her food and clothes. They repeatedly try to up the price when Valjean comes to rescue the child.

Live-Action TV
  • An episode of Criminal Minds features a couple who does this. Doing simulated drownings on their kids to keep them in line, and padlocking the fridge. One of the serial killers of the week attempt to get one of the kids to shoot the abusive step mother, but the kid desists and shoots the staged "happy family" pictures, calling them all lies.
  • The French-Canadian series Les Bougons featured one of these, on a farm no less. The parents refer to the kids as numbers, and one of the kids notes that this kind of foster home ain't so bad since "Here you don't need to sleep with the old man for food at least."''
  • Shows up in a few Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes -- the cops go to a suspect's (or a victim's) last known address and find out the person hasn't been there for months. The foster parent or caretaker hasn't reported them missing so they can still collect the checks.

News Paper Comics
  • In Doonesbury Duke starts an orphanage and acquires as many kids as he can in the expectation of a big government payout.

Western Animation
  • Seen in Futurama, where Bender is told the goverment gives checks for adopting orphans. He learns later he's supposed to use that money to take care of the kids, and that the government stipend barely covers it. Ironically, despite the abuse, the kids love him. He then tries to break even by selling the kids as food.
  • Parodied in the third episode of 'The Cleveland Show. The forster parents lock the kids in the basement and see them as a source of income only. The kids are starved enough to resort to cannibalism. The parents also treat their operation the same way drug dealers would treat theirs: When a hearing could cost them a welfare check, they resort to shooting the parties involved to keep the kids (and associated cash).

Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • October 31, 2009
    Evalana
    In the book White Oleander, the main character ends up in one of these, with a woman who lives in an opulent house funded by the checks sent for the various girls she takes in, spending very little on the girls themselves, including putting a lock on the fridge when she isn't home (which is most of the time). The movie version left this out.
  • November 2, 2009
    Superhal

  • November 2, 2009
    random surfer
    Part of the story of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.
  • November 3, 2009
    TBeholder
    Probably a subtrope of Department Of Child Disservices
  • November 3, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Ironically, despite the abuse, the kids love him.

    • It's hinted at the end of the episode he was starting to develop feelings for them. Well, as much as Bender could have feelings for someone, anyway.
  • November 3, 2009
    Amazingly Enough
    If we're counting instances where people collect orphans off the street, like Slumdog Millionaire, then there's:

    • Fagin in Oliver Twist
    • A much more benign version in the movie August Rush, in which Robin Williams collects kids and teaches them how to play music for money.
  • November 3, 2009
    Ronka87
    • There's a family like this in Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's "not quite a remake of The Parent Trap" movie, It Takes Two.
  • November 12, 2009
    STUART
    Done in The Sandman volume "A Game of You", as I recall.
  • November 12, 2009
    Etrangere
    The Tenardiers in Les Miserables.
  • January 14, 2010
    JackButler
    @STUART Actually it was The Doll's House, not A Game Of You.
  • January 14, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    A Doonesbury plot is very similar to the Futurama one - Duke starts an orphanage and acquires as many kids as he can in the expectation of a big government payout.
  • January 16, 2010
    Prfnoff
  • February 4, 2010
    TBeholder
    Ivan The Terrible was on the receiving end of this. There's the letter in which he accused his custodians in stealing some of his heirloom, behaviour very inappropriate to a loyal vassal, etc. What happened to them when he got the real power... well, You Should Know This Already.
  • February 5, 2010
    FreezairForALimitedTime
    In the movie Hotel For Dogs, near the end of the film, the brother gets shipped off to one of these... and is miserably unhappy.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    This is a good idea for a trope. Could someone take it over?
  • February 24, 2012
    Catbert
    I'm taking this over, unless Ghilz wants it back. I still need to sort the examples and expand on the description. In the mean time, please keep the examples coming.
  • February 24, 2012
    TheNinth
    Shows up in a few Law & Order and L&O SVU episodes -- the cops go to a suspect's (or a victim's) last known address and find out the person hasn't been there for months. The foster parent or caretaker hasn't reported them missing so they can still collect the checks.
  • February 24, 2012
    TonyG
    In Despicable Me, supervillain Gru adopts three girls solely as part of a plan to sneak into another villain's lair and steal his Shrink Ray. Unlike most other examples on this page, he eventually warms up to them.
  • February 25, 2012
    69BookWorM69
    The couple in Les Miserables are the Thenardiers. They bleed Fantine dry with their demands for more money for Cosette, while coercing labour from the girl and stinting on her food and clothes. They repeatedly try to up the price when Valjean comes to rescue the child.
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