20 Songs About Foster Care

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Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

Looking for songs about foster care or adoption? We’ve got you covered with this list below!

Here, we’ve listed 20 great songs about foster care in a variety of different genres! These songs range from being about foster care, adoption, children becoming orphans after losing their parents, and more.

1. “Headlights” by Eminem

Eminem’s 2013 song “Headlights”, which features Nate Ruess, is one of the best rap songs about foster care. In this song, Eminem apologizes to his mother for some of the things he’s said in his earlier rap songs, when he used to criticize her quite often.

Now, he comes from an older and more mature perspective and feels bad about what he said previously. However, this doesn’t mean that his mother was perfect, or that they now have a good relationship, as Eminem says they’re still estranged — and that she still did wrong in the past.

For example, he talks about how his little brother was taken away by the state and put in foster care, which made Eminem dislike his mother even more. Regardless, Eminem now realizes that his mother did try to do the best she could in her situation.

He raps, “All you did, all you said, you did your best to raise us both / Foster care, that cross you bear, few may be as heavy as yours”.

2. “i hope your whole life sux” by Blackbear

Blackbear’s 2017 song “i hope your whole life sux” discusses adoption. In this song, Blackbear sings about his feelings over his current romantic situation, as he misses his ex and hopes she’s not doing well without him.\

However, he also sings about his past and what he went through when he was growing up, detailing how his mother always worked and how his father adopted him — and how proud his father is now of his adopted son.

He sings, “Mama wasn’t ’round that much growin’ up, it’s all good / Rather pay the mortgage than to see my bro in the hood / Daddy saw me on TV, he proud that he adopted me”.

3. “If No One Ever Marries Me” by Natalie Merchant

In Natalie Merchant’s song “If No One Ever Marries Me”, she discusses adoption. She begins the song by detailing all the things she will do if she never gets married, which includes owning a cottage near the woods and having a lot of animals.

However, she also mentions becoming a mother. She sings the lyrics, “And when I’m getting really old / At twenty-eight or nine / I shall buy a little orphan-girl / And bring her up as mine”.

4. “These Old Bones” by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s 2002 song “These Old Bones” appears on her album Halos & Horns. This song tells a story about a clairvoyant old woman who lives alone and tells the future for many people in town. However, even though many people go to see her for advice, she is still an outcast.

The story continues to explain that a young woman (Parton’s narrator of the story, it’s revealed) also has these clairvoyant gifts. So, she goes to see the old woman — and the old woman reveals that she is her daughter!

She sings, “Did you know that you got adopted? / Did you know you once’t was mine? / But the county took you from me / Said I wasn’t right in mind”.

Therefore, this Parton song is a great example of a fictional story discussing adoption and foster care!

5. “Guardian” by Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette’s 2012 song “Guardian” technically isn’t about adoption. However, many families and parents that adopt are greatly inspired by this song, which is why we’ve included it here!

In this song, Morissette sings about being the guardian of her song and how she’ll always be there for him. She ends the song by singing the lyrics, “The greatest honor of all, as your guardian”.

6. “Motherless Children” by The Carter Family

The very old song “Motherless Children” by The Carter Family discusses how children feel when they lose their mothers. Even if these children are brought up by their brothers or sisters, or even if they’re adopted, The Carter Family sings about the heartbreak that they’ll always have.

They sing, “Orphan children sees a hard time in this world”. 

7. “Tron Cat” by Tyler, the Creator

In this song, Tyler, the Creator discusses a lot of situations and ideas — including orphans or those in foster care. He has a quick verse where he discusses how those without parents can be broken down when they’re told time and time again that nobody loves them. As a result, this can lead them to act out in different ways, such as breaking into apartments.

8. “Orphan Girl” by Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris released her song “Orphan Girl” on her 1995 album Wrecking Ball. In this song, Harris sings about how she has no family and is an “Orphan Girl”. She sings, “I have had friendships, pure and golden / But the ties of kinship, I have not known them”.

However, towards the end of the song, she does sing positively. She knows that one day, she’ll be reunited with her family again.

9. “Orphan Train” by Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack’s 2002 song “Orphan Train”, which appears on her album Something Worth Leaving Behind, discusses everybody, regardless of where they’re from, riding the “Orphan Train”. On this train, which is taking them to their final home, everybody is the same, regardless of what they lived their lives as.

As a result of these messages, this song can be seen as religious and Womack is singing about a final train ride everyone experiences after death, where everyone is an orphan.

10. “The Magician” by Jason Isbell

Jason Isbell’s 2007 song “The Magician” can be interpreted in many different ways. However, it appears that Isbell narrates a story about a magician. This magician talks about his life, singing, “I am an orphan, man, but ain’t we all? / I know there’s somewhere worse than here”.

11. “Orphan of the Road” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash’s 1971 song “Orphan of the Road” is another classic song that discusses losing your parents. In this song, Cash sings the story of a baby that is born to a woman who works at a carnival after meeting a man at a nearby rodeo. She raises this baby herself, but then soon dies, leaving the child an orphan.

Nobody takes care of the orphan at the traveling carnival. So, eventually, the orphan leaves and travels himself, hopping on a train. At the end of the song, he finds his father on the train, a very old man who is dying after searching for the girl he left and the child he didn’t know about. But finally, he gets to see his child before he passes.

12. “Guardian Angel” by The Judds

The Judds’ song “Guardian Angel”, which appears on the album River of Time, is another great song that technically isn’t about adoption. However, many adopted families feel inspired by it, especially the chorus!

In “Guardian Angel”, The Judds tell a story about how they feel that their ancestors are their guardian angels. In a way, they are spiritually adopted by them.

They sing in the chorus, “They’re my guardian angels / And I know they can see / Ev’ry step I take / They are watching over me”.

13. “Chimbley Sweep” by The Decemberists

The Decemberists released their song “Chimbley Sweep” on the 2003 album Her Majesty the Decemberists. This song is a take on William Blake’s poem “The Chimney Sweeper”. The poem, and the song, tell the story of a young orphan sold to be a chimney sweep.

In this song, the boy sings about not having parents or a home. He doesn’t even have a bed or a room to call his own. As a result, he cries while he must work.

14. “Iceberg” by 10cc

10cc released their song “Iceberg” on their 1976 album How Dare You. In this song, the band narrates the story as a crazy man who stalks women. To explain his behavior, the band sings, “I was an orphan and I couldn’t help it / I’ve been in and out of trouble / Ever since they left me in a basket / On the freeway”.

Therefore, this song discusses giving up a child in a fictional story.

15. “ATM” by J. Cole

J. Cole’s 2018 song “ATM” stands for Addicted to Money. As a result, this song details his relationship with money, as well as how this can affect all the people around him, including his family. Now that he has money, it has changed his life — as well as others.

Through discussing money, J. Cole also discusses his upbringing and how his mother initially didn’t think about raising him. However, he’s thankful she did. He says, “The loneliest orphan / I flip my misfortune and grow me a fortune”.

16. “Whoever Finds This, I Love You” by Mac Davis

Mac Davis’ song “Whoever Finds This, I Love You” tells the story of an old man who becomes friends with a young orphan girl. Though this is an old song, it appears this girl is either in an orphanage or a foster care situation.

One day, while walking alone, the old man discusses a letter lying on the ground that says “Whoever Finds This, I Love You”. It’s written by the orphan girl. She sees him and the two become friends, exchanging notes and gifts through the seasons.

However, the story comes to a sad end when the old man stops showing up — and the young girl realizes that she won’t be his adopted daughter, as she knows in his heart she’ll never see him again.

So, she writes another letter — again saying “Whoever Finds This, I Love You”.

17. “Renegade” by Eminem and Jay-Z

Eminem and Jay-Z’s 2001 song “Renegade” discusses a lot of different things. Eminem raps about how critics say he’s harming children with his lyrics and convincing them to do bad things.

Jay-Z, meanwhile, raps to critics who say that he’s forgotten his roots. To this, he talks about his past and upbringing, discussing how he viewed himself as an orphan. He raps, “An orphan, my pops left me / And often my mama wasn’t home”.

18. “Passing Through” by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen covered Dick Blakelee’s 1948 song “Passing Through” to great acclaim on his 1973 album Live Songs. In this song, Cohen sings about how we’re all just “Passing Through” life and attempting to do our best.

To get this point across, he sings about talking to a variety of different figures — from Jesus and Adam to Franklin Roosevelt. All of them explain they’re just passing through.

Through this message, Cohen also sings about how we all are orphans. He has Adam say, “I’m an orphan now, and I’m only passin’ through. So are you”.

19. “Joshua” by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s 1971 song “Joshua” also discusses children without a home. In this song, Parton sings a story about a mean man who lives in town — and who the town warns people to stay away from.

However, when she goes down to see if he’s truly as mean as they say, she realizes the people in town were wrong about him. She sees him differently. When discussing her own background, she sings, “I’d spent my life in an orphan’s home / And just like him I was all alone”.

20. “Being Boiled” by The Human League

The Human League’s song “Being Boiled”, which appears on the 1980 album Travelogue, also talks about children who do not have a home or parents. In this song, the band discusses many things. They wonder if humanity can be saved when they do cruel things to create fashion items.

The band also references Buddha and orphan children when discussing this message. They sing the lyrics, “Just because the kid’s an orphan / Is no excuse for thoughtless slaying”.