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To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,395 ratings  ·  311 reviews
"Beam presents both a sharp critique of foster-care policies and a searching exploration of the meaning of family."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories.
ebook, 337 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  2,395 ratings  ·  311 reviews

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I read this book because I was interested in adopting an older child. I found it difficult to find books about this topic and was very surprised that none of the Barnes and Nobles in my area had even one book on foster care or older adoption. Luckily my local bookstore (Elliot Bay Books) had at least two shelves of adoption books, though most of them are about infant adoption.

I quickly discovered why. Older child adoptions are not the same as the adoptions I had seen on TV and in movies. I
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a foster parent to teens, I was incredibly impressed by how well researched this book was. It is so hard to find a realistic perspective on foster care: so many things I see are either extremely demoralizing (abuse in homes etc.) or unrealistically optimistic. Cris Beam's book is neither, and while I kept wishing and hoping that she was going to say something that would give me some more hope about the system than we currently have, I am deeply appreciative for her honesty throughout the ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fairly well written book about a heartbreaking subject -- abused, abandoned and anonymous children stuck in the country's foster care system.

I read some criticism of the author's clear "political bias". Set aside the fact that the author is, herself, a child of abandonment and a member of the LGBTQ community..., how does one write about victimization and not have it come across as "liberal minded"? This is about children who are often born victims, and the trajectory their lives follow because
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a compelling, though sobering, look at foster care and how it affects kids and families. This book is best read to get a sense of the major issues in foster care, and for the personal stories of the people the author follows, and less so for specific information about how the system works.

Foster care, as it turns out, is a big topic, so this book doesn’t cover everything (for instance, it focuses almost exclusively on New York). It starts with the reasons kids are removed from their
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is possible I should have left this book at the library and never opened it because it brought up all kinds of raw, unresolved emotions related to our personal experiences with the foster care system. The problems related to foster care are so complex and I have always complained that the privacy laws that are intended to protect the children in foster care actually don’t; they protect everyone else involved in the system. This book did a remarkable job of breaking away these “protections” ...more
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was not a book that outlines the policies and statistics of foster care. Nor does it provide many suggestions for improvements. But that's OK - the author states at the very beginning that this book is anecdotal, but she hopes by bringing the stories of real people in, it will help people to discuss the policies and procedures of foster care.

Despite the fact that this book was mostly anecdote and people's individual stories, I did learn a lot about foster care, especially in my home state
I read nonfiction regularly, but I am more likely to "gulp" mysteries and fantasies than nonfiction. I gobbled Cris Beam's To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American
Foster Care
. She compellingly and insightfully combined case studies, statistics, and theory about foster care, especially about teenagers in foster care.

Beam concluded that we both are failing at foster care (e.g., no state meets more than two of seven federal criteria for successful care), and that our failures have
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a sobering book, but definitely worth reading. The author says she primarily wrote this book to be descriptive rather than proscriptive and that's accurate. It's mostly just descriptions of interviews and experiences with foster children and foster parents (and some social workers) in the New York City foster care system.
In the epilogue she talks about how all these social programs (food stamps, foster care, juvenile justice, homelessness, poverty in general) are all interconnected. She
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
deeply sad stories of kids in foster care in New York. Author had been a foster parent herself and obviously did a thorough job of following up repeatedly with a few foster parents and the kids who cycle in and out of their lives. Also brings out some of the unintended consequences of policies in this realm, systemic failures, pendulum swings from doing anything to keep families together vs. being quick to remove children from the home, often in (over)reaction to which kind of horror story most ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
Stumbled onto this book at the library while searching for parenting books. Of course, my heart melted when I saw the cover! As a new parent, I couldn’t imagine my precious baby being passed between strangers. It broke my heart to think about it!

Unfortunately, the author is crazy uber-liberal. I later discovered she wrote a prior book for parents/foster-parents promoting the transgender lifestyle for teens. She colors her writing with bias. She displays sympathy to rule breakers and actively
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
You know you're a nerd when you can't put down a book about the difficulties foster children face in America. I was sobbing at the end of this book. I wish I had the energy and health to take all of them into my home and love them unconditionally. They are everyone's children, and we all need to love and help them. Cris Beam isn't prescriptive. She just tells the stories of foster children unbiased and from all sides. It's beautifully written with lots of heart. Loved loved loved this book. We ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well-done and thought-provoking book on a subject I knew little about. Books such as JUNE really hit home regarding how much our early life determines our trajectory in adulthood; I pondered how many of the perpetually troubled library patrons I interact with have histories similar to the young people profiled in this book. We like to pretend everyone has the same opportunities for success in this country, but this just isn't the case.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Before I read this book, I imagined all kinds of good things about what being a foster parent or foster kid might mean. That was quite naive, it turns out. It does work out well sometimes, but now I think that most often, it doesn't. This book brought home to me just how messed up the system is and how hard it is for good things to come from it.
This is a big problem in the US, and one that sounds niche so it's often overlooked. But the truth is that we don't deal well with kids whose parents are
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
This book, all politics aside, is a very realistic look at the foster care system. I found myself agreeing with much of what Ms. Beam covers in her book (I work for an agency as a caseworker). The experiences of the children and foster parents are invaluable - nothing is held back. While I felt like the book focused mostly on the negatives, I like how positive aspects were highlighted as well. Is the system perfect? Absolutely not, and that's why this is book is so important for us caseworkers ...more
Aug 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: culture, non-fiction
This book is a look at the foster care system. The author looks specifically at the system in New York and some of the issues with it. What I like best about this book is she took time over a period of several years to follow several foster kids/families and tell their stories. Using these stories, Beam tells a story of good intentions gone wrong and how kids are lost to the system.

This book is sad. Because the author followed these kids you can see how they go from thinking everything is going
David Quinn
Probably a good book to read for anyone thinking of becoming a foster parent or social worker.

Anyone looking for an uplifting story should look elsewhere. The children and families we meet, with an exception or two, are relentlessly depressing. I have a great deal of respect for the people that try to make foster care work but the rewards appear to be few while the frustration and headaches seem to be abundant.

The stories themselves are interesting and informative and the best part of the book
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book, bracing, saddening. Some of the information re government agencies, etc., got hard to follow for someone not in the field or familiar with the system, but very thoughtful.
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book, because I have a close friend who has just taken a volunteer position as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), and I wanted to better understand the foster care system in America and the challenges my friend will be facing. Beam really does great job showing the huge challenges in this field while also reporting on some of the very special foster parents who have incredible love and willingness to do this work despite being a position to lose their children at any time. ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
1/3/2014: What a sad, lovely book. Beam writes with such clear-eyed sympathy for the entire cast of characters in the seriously broken American foster care system: the children, birth parents, foster parents, social workers, even the policy and government leaders who are trying to bring change to the system. She interviews them, follows them for years, tells their stories with no apologies or excuses, and yet, despite all the awful things she finds, she still sounds firmly optimistic. She knows ...more
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it
There's much to commend this book for FYF: it's very readable, with lots of personal stories, and there are examples of many of the major appeals and strategies/fallacies. It's a topic with a rich history, which Beam often dips into, and one that almost everyone has some sort of connection with: I don't think there's a person in America who hasn't known someone who was either in foster care, or raised someone in foster care, or was connected to the system in some way.

That being said, there are
Lyndsey Pheister
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I haven't been a foster parent, so I can't speak to the accuracy of the book, or how things have or haven't changed. It was enlightening for me; we are considering becoming a licensed home, and I was glad for an objective view because no one in the recruitment process wants to talk about any of the weaknesses of the foster care system.
I love that this book followed multiple families, ages, situations and went the distance with them over the course of a few years. She also made a point of
This was an interesting look at foster care in New York city. There was a lot of detail about the history of foster care in the United States and a detailed look at the current foster care system in New York.

I was expecting something different than what the book actually delivered. The inside cover says that "Beam closely follows a group of teenagers in New York who are grappling with what aging out will mean for them and meets a woman who has parented eleven kids from the system, almost all
Alex Templeton
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating, eye-opening look at an often-ignored population in America: the foster children. It was reminiscent to me of Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's equally excellent "Random Family", if only in that both authors used the stories of New York City-based families to illuminate larger issues. Beam aptly paints a picture of the difficulties in adopting foster children and the dysfunctions of the system. Thankfully, she doesn't shy away from the difficulties faced by social workers and ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Wow, previous to this Tonya Cooley of MTV's The Real World Chicago was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of America's system of fostering children. Tonya's tantrums, bravado, hyper-sexuality, lying, insecurity and even kidney problems all fit perfectly with the descriptions Cris Beam gives in this collection of case studies in adoption, fostering, delinquency, etc.

While I found her writing a bit fractured and not always easy to follow, I totally appreciate the sheer volume of stories she
Karla Osorno
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
Hard truths that everyone of us needs to face so we can stop replaying our past mistakes. Well written stories communicating why the foster system is where it is and the impact to children, teens and young adults. Cris Beam offers no prescription and wisely says in the epilogue, “anything that touches social reform touches foster care too.” We can make a difference and must make a difference. What that looks like will be different for everyone (in process of discovering for myself and my ...more
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I agree with the author that her book is descriptive, not prescriptive. Author puts a lot of herself in there, but she did work hard on researching the history & context of child welfare. Narrative journalism, with enough investigation for the scope of this one book. Took years getting to know her subjects, earn their trust, portray their stories as truthfully as possible. A huge project. The book is useful if you're curious, but should be read in broader context if you want to understand ...more
Alica McKenna-Johnson

This was heartbreaking and eye opening. After 10 years as a professional foster parent my focus was 100% on the kids, but how I can see the bigger picture of the system of foster care.
One system, and the one I worked in, of professional foster parent communities wasn't mentioned in this book. I do believe these professional communities have the potential to solve some of the issues in foster care: the constant moving, untrained foster parents, abusive foster parents, and attachment
Jp Perkins
Feb 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
I tried very hard to get through this because it came highly recommended by a friend, but in the end I gave up half way through. To me it was all too familiar and too obvious. I suppose if some one had no contact with the system they may find this surprising and even shocking, but having worked with foster kids for many years, I found no surprises and the stories in the book mild compared to some of my experiences.
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well-written and moving account of the very difficult and heartbreaking US foster care system. Cris Beam focuses on portraits of specific foster children and families, which presents a more compelling perspective on the foster care system as a whole. Particularly moved by the examples of grace extended by the Green family; true examples of unconditional love toward people who -- because of their circumstances -- are not able to receive or return it.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, adult
A heartbreaking look at the foster care system in America. I thought the author did an excellent job of trying to balance the many opposing forces acting on the system. For the most part she described the situation, rather than trying to advocate strongly for one side or the other. Her in depth look at a few families showed that nothing is perfect, even the "success" stories.
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Cris Beam is a journalist who has written for several national magazines as well as for public radio. She has an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at Columbia and the New School. She lives in New York.
“If you have the choice of being abused by your mother or abused by a stranger, you’d choose your mother. It’s abuse either way.” This came from Arelis Rosario-Keane, a twenty-two-year-old college student and a veteran of the foster care system, referring to the likelihood of getting mistreated in care.” 0 likes
“But I’ve struggled, like every foster child I’ve ever met, between two opposing agonies: she didn’t want me, and I’m the one who left. The guilt, still, is immeasurable.” 0 likes
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