From Homeless to Hopeful

By Felix Heredia

I spent the summer I turned 13 homeless Felix-Largebecause my mother thought I was gay. She kicked me out of the house and told me to never come back because she didn’t want a “child of Satan” in her home. I didn’t really understand what was going at the time, I just knew I had to start looking out for myself.

I spent most of the summer either sleeping over with friends or whatever family members were willing to take me in for a night. When one of my teachers found out I was homeless at the start of the school year and reported it to the school’s social worker, I was placed in foster care . By then I knew for sure I was gay, but didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid of how they’d react. Besides, being moved into foster care meant I had enough stuff to deal with as is.

The first home I was placed in was a disaster. I didn’t have any grand expectations because my mother was abusive to me pretty much my whole life, but that first foster home was run like a military school. My foster parents made me and the other kids they were fostering do chores all day while they sat around. If any of us spoke up or did something they didn’t like, we’d all get whipped with belts and be denied food. I was eventually moved around a few times and while not all of the homes were that bad, I never felt like anyone cared about me.

It didn’t take long for me to lose any hope of being adopted or ending up in a “good” home. It’s hard to feel like you’re worth anything when the people who are supposed to care about you treat you like garbage.

By the time I turned 18, I lost contact with all of my family and knew that I wasn’t welcome in their homes anyway, since they all had the same negative view of gay people my mother did. Despite that, I knew I wanted nothing to do with the foster care system anymore and decided to try to make it on my own. While I did graduate from high school, I couldn’t find a job that I could support myself with and quickly became homeless. Things could have gotten much worse from there, but I was lucky to have been put in contact with The Door, which helped me get my life back on track. Now I’m enrolled in community college, working part-time and feeling a lot better about myself and who I am.

I know that my family probably won’t come back into my life, but going through everything I’ve been through has made me stronger. And now I’m finally on my way to doing things that no one ever thought I would. No matter what, it feels great to be happy with my life and where it’s headed. It’s not something I’d ever felt before, and I look forward to feeling that way for the rest of my life.

Published on May 25, 2013 as part of Children’s Rights’ “Fostering the Future” campaign. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blog author and do not necessarily represent the views of Children’s Rights or its employees. Children’s Rights has not verified the author’s account.