On May 5, 2006, three-year-old Marcus Fiesel was delivered to foster parents near Cincinnati because his mother could no longer care for him. On August 15, the foster mother experienced a fainting spell in a park and called out for Marcus. More than 2,000 people spent days searching without success. Thirteen days later police announced that the foster parents had been arrested for murder.
Marcus’ foster parents had attended a family reunion and, instead of requesting respite care, pinned Marcus’ arms behind his back, bound him in a blanket, and placed him in a closet where temperatures reached 110 degrees. Upon returning, the foster parents found Marcus dead, attempted to burn his body and then threw his remains into the Ohio River.
This tragedy inspired Holly Schlaack to write Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel’s Legacy, an indictment of the foster parent system that controls the lives of500,000 children. Overwhelmed by children in need, lack of volunteers, and heavy caseloads, it is a game of chance for children removed from abusive homes and seldom seen or heard by the system.
Schlaack provides thorough research that tells part of the story. Seventy-seven percent of homicide victims are under the age of four. Foster children arête times more likely to be abused and to die from abuse. For-profit foster care agencies try to meet the growing need, but often take shortcuts to improve the bottom line and salaries.
The author narrates with moving imagery the lives of these children, some with loving foster parents and some who have suffered tragedy. The stories of vulnerable victims of the system make this a difficult read.
Invisible Kids is a powerful legacy for Marcus Fiesel that makes abused and neglected children visible to all of us. Readers may find themselves volunteering in ways they never imagined.