Fostering for Profit

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 as little as possible on the kid. 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.

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, Financial Abuse and Wicked Stepmother.

Very often Truth in Television. Those stipend checks are quite large.


Anime and Manga
  • In Case Closed, Mrs.Kudo/Mrs.Edagawa eventually shows up and asks the Moores to take care of her son a little while longer. Richard wasn't very keen on the idea until she handed him the $10,000 (1 million yen in the original) check for Conan's expenses.

Comic Books
  • Done to Rose's brother in The Sandman volume "The Doll's House".
  • A variant in Doom Patrol where the young Gar Logan (yes, that one) was put with an Evil Uncle who was only interested in access to the late Mark and Marie Logan's insurance money. The Patrol was definitely not happy, and when all was said and done Gar was Happily Adopted by Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl) and Steve Dayton (Mento).
  • In the old days, Billy Batson's back story involved living with an Evil Uncle named Ebeneezer who tried to force him to steal money for him, who later stole some money that Billy was set to inherit from another relative. By that point Billy had run off and wound up living on the street.
  • Scott Summers of X-Men was in a similar situation: Jack Winters intended to use Scott's mutant ability for financial gain using the 'pound him into compliance' method.

Fan Fiction
  • In the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle fanfic Freefall, some of the people fostering Fin and Sebastian do this.
  • Some Harry Potter fanfics where Harry is being abused by the Dursleys have his aunt and uncle being a given a stipend by Dumbledore or from the Potter vault, which they spend on themselves and their son Dudley. A few even go as far as Vernon doing everything he can to prevent Harry from being rescued, despite not wanting his nephew, simply because he doesn't want the payments to end.

  • 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.
  • Miss Hannigan in Annie (2014), at least at the beginning of the movie. When Annie suggests to Mr. Stacks that he could take her in as part of his publicity stunt, she mentions the stipend as further incentive, which he takes as an attempt at a Comically Small Bribe.

  • 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 Thénardiers in Les Misérables 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.
  • This is why Count Olaf adopts the Baudelaire siblings in A Series of Unfortunate Events to get access to their parents' money, and in the first book he actually tries to marry Violet so he can get access to it that way.
  • In the first book of the Collegium Chronicles, dialogue implies that Cole Peiters was doing this with Mags and the other orphan children he had working at the mine. In the last book, another character points out that if Cole had been smarter about things, he could have continued it by letting Mags be Chosen instead of trying to obstruct that and then collected the stipend that families get when they have a child Chosen that was originally working to help them. At that point, Mags would have been too scared to tell the truth about his situation, and his guardian could have claimed to have just adopted him in order to explain away how undernourished he was.
  • Ruth starts out this way in The Girl Next Door. It turns horrible very quickly.

Live-Action TV
  • The episode "Children of the Dark" of Criminal Minds features a couple who does this. Doing simulated drownings on their kids to keep them in line, padlocking the fridge and having a ridiculous set of rules. Our two UnSubs of the week were raised in this house. One of them attempt to get one of the other kids who still live in the house to shoot the abusive foster 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.
  • Once Upon a Time: Emma Swan had to put up with more than one of these, and hates the system as a result. She bitterly told Mary Margaret that Ava and Nicholas (Hansel and Gretel) were better off living as orphans in hiding than going to foster care.
  • Revenge: Experienced by Amanda Clarke at the hands of her physically abusive foster mother, Merideth Hayward, who pocketed donations for her own use while depriving children of food and water for days. Amanda and her foster brother Eli eventually get revenge on her as adults by congregating the mistreated children of Hayward House at a press conference (under the guise of giving her another donation) and revealing her on live television.

Newspaper 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
  • Parodied in the third episode of The Cleveland Show. The foster 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).
  • 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.
  • Occured in The Mighty Ducks with Buzz Blitzman, a Child Prodigy who was pretty much confined by the company he was in the custody of since he could come up with great tech ideas for them and they didn't want to "risk" him by letting him out into the dangers of the real world, causing him to run away. They wouldn't even let him go to hockey games when he wanted to, which was implied to be pretty much the one thing that would have kept him from running away in the first place. While initially a Bratty Half-Pint who drove the ducks nuts, once this side of him comes out his idol Mallery uses the events of the episode to help him get out more often.