Never Lose Hope

By Tammylinn Clutter

Tammylinn LargeAll my life I knew there was a reason for me being in foster care. Maybe this is it, to get my story out there. I was just 18 ½ months old when I was removed from my biological mother and placed in a foster home after neighbors reported that my brother and I were being neglected.

Things were even worse in foster care. I was sexually abused in my first foster home. It was unclear who was actually abusing me, since I had two father figures in my life at that point – my biological father and my first foster father. I was so young that I wasn’t able to effectively explain to the state who was abusing me. No one was ever charged and there was never a case. The state was supposed to be protecting me; instead I was being molested. The state tried to cover up the abuse by moving my brother and me.

We were more like slaves in this home and did all the cleaning. As I got older, that’s when the sexual abuse started again. It took me a little while to tell someone because I was scared. I didn’t know where they would send me. I feared that my foster father would get me pregnant, but my biggest fear was that he was going to kill me if I told anyone what was happening. To make things worse, I was worried about the little girls they were planning to soon adopt, who were like sisters to me. I finally told, and the state removed me. My foster father denied everything at first, but he eventually came clean. They got to keep the little girls and he pretty much only got a slap on the hand – minimum time in a correctional facility. I on the other hand wasn’t allowed to have contact with the girls or that foster mom. I was treated like the perpetrator.

We were moved yet again. I didn’t feel like it was the right home for me and everything started to take its toll. I threatened to overdose on pills if I wasn’t removed. Well, I was removed – and sent straight to the mental hospital. I was labeled as crazy when it really was PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I stayed in the hospital for about a week and was then discharged to a new home. I started to feel different, like something was wrong with me. I never knew what I did to feel this way.

“Please God, help me find the right home,” I thought. I finally was placed further away in another county with a family that had a little boy and girl who were in foster care too. It was nice; I wasn’t alone and I loved kids, so I was excited. At this point in my life, I wasn’t sure how to behave or act. My foster parents helped me to realize that I was the victim. They showed me what it was like to be a part of a family, and not feel different. They listened to my problems, encouraged me to work hard and supported my dreams. I begged them to have my brother come and stay with us too, and they did. These are the parents I look up to. They had my back from day one. They allowed me to have their last name even though I wasn’t eligible for adoption. They still, to this day, include me in everything and accept my children as well.

In total, I went through eight different foster homes. I try not to be discouraged by what happened to me. These are pieces of my life that have made me who I am today. Being in foster care has shown me the good and bad, how to be an awesome mom to my two children, how not to give up during the difficult times. I also learned that family doesn’t have to be blood. If I could say anything to current foster youth, my advice is to speak up. If there is something going on in your home and you’re scared, lost or hurt, tell someone. Don’t let others take you for granted. God has a plan for your life and ultimately you are where you’re supposed to be. The storm passes and you will be out on your own before you know it. We don’t have to become abusers just because we have been abused. We should all work together to make the world a better place to live in, and give our children the life we never had.

Published on May 22, 2015 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.