Silas Dillon of Cary County is a book we all should read. Not because it tells a compelling story – it does – but because it’s an eye-opening look at what happens to children who fall through the cracks.  

It’s clear from the first pages of this well-written book, that the author knows his subject matter very well. It feels so real, in fact, that the reader might believe he is reading an autobiography.

But, although Silas Dillon of Cary County might mimic the experiences of too many children caught in the foster care system, it is a work of fiction. What gives the book its authenticity is author Clifford Schrage’s firsthand knowledge of foster care – he and his wife have two biological children and have adopted six.

The story is set around the life of Silas Dillon, a bi-racial minister from the New York City suburbs who, like the author, is the father of several foster and adopted children.

The adult Dillon takes readers back through his heartbreaking childhood. Born to an addicted mother who gave him up shortly after birth, he was placed in eight foster homes and returned to his mother twice before finally finding a forever        family.

The author’s (and the adult Dillon’s) biggest issue with the foster care system seems to be that it honors the rights of a birth mother over what is best for the child.

Dillon’s one chance at a stable home was taken from him when the state turned him back over to his unstable mother.

With every move young Silas is made to endure, you can feel and understand the pent-up anger that was building inside the unwanted child.

“Agencies continue to seek and receive state funds for each foster child placed within their charge, creating a discriminating reluctance to encourage adoption, as unremitting money is welcomed,” the author writes. “And the bureaucracy is as monstrous as it was then, crammed with cases in court, with lifeless little laws that are loud enough to drown out the inexpressible cries of the lingering children waiting for a simple place of belonging. That facade of good intentions and the camouflage of nice words continue, while cases adjourn and adjourn, while countless foundling castaways flounder.”

The author not only has harsh words for the system, he is pretty tough on religious people who could easily offer a home to children who need the stability and love Christians are taught to give.

Dillon says this, “We observe so many … driving to church in comfortable cars, with their 2.3 well-dressed children, from commodious homes, wearing fair, indifferent smiles and genteel clothes, holding their selectively read Bibles, quoting those verses interpreted exclusively as promises for their own self-indulgence.

“The clarion shout from James’ voice, to his pen, to ears that hear and hearts that sense, continues to cry through the ages: ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world.’” (Bible, James 1:27)

So, read Silas Dillon of Cary County, expecting to be entertained. But more than that, read this book expecting to be enlightened and challenged.

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