My upbringing has affected my life in many ways. Growing up in foster care isn’t the prettiest story. When you are forced to live with one person after another, you never know what life has in store for you. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, literally. You can think that all is well and that you have finally found your forever home, then discover that once again you just didn’t fit the bill.
Growing up in state care led to struggling with stability as a young adult. I was never taught to work through any problems when I was in the system. If there was a problem or a difficult situation, the foster mothers would just kick me out. Being in eight different foster homes, and having a broken adoption, affects my ability to accept that I am now an adult. It’s hard working through any serious circumstances because I never had to deal with anything too long while I was a ward of the state.
My worst memory in foster care was being wrongfully accused of getting drunk. My foster mom thought horribly of me. She allowed me to go over to someone’s home, and I ended up catching the flu. I walked home sick. I was throwing up and dizzy with a major stomach ache. She ranted and raved about me drinking. She called my social worker and told her that I’d gotten drunk and was hungover. But it wasn’t true. I’d never had alcohol a day in my life. A few days later I was placed in respite care for two weeks. When I got out, I was sent to a group home in another city.
My best memory of foster care was having a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). She came into my life right after my adoption broke due to the child abuse I’d experienced for 7 ½ years and I had to re-enter the foster care system. She visited me and took me out for dinner, movies and shopping. During the holidays she’d take me to her home. And at Christmastime, she had as many gifts under the tree for me as she had for her grandchildren. She always told me that she knew I was strong enough to never give up and that I would make it beyond the statistics. She stayed by my side from the ages of 14 through 18. I am still in contact with her and see her from time to time.
I could not wait to age out of foster care. I had been maintaining a job and was taking independent living classes my senior year of high school. I was excited to embrace life on my own. I was ready to prove to the world that I could survive no matter how many people had tried to break me down. Leaving foster care was a huge sigh of relief and a weight taken off my shoulders.
I had to motivate myself to do the right thing and stay on the right path in foster care. I believed that life could get better if I just kept going. I knew I wanted more out of life than what I had been handed and I was going to do whatever I had to do to make it. Thinking about my hardships being temporary gave me strength to keep going no matter what. Now at 28, I am married with three kids and own a home. I’m a published author of an autobiography, “I’m Good,” which talks about my life and thoughts growing up in foster care and my broken adoption. I’m a nonprofit business owner whose organization – Can We Talk Inc. — encourages storytelling as a way of healing, learning and growing. I certainly created a new example of what a foster child can accomplish and removed the stigma placed upon us.
Foster care needs to change in many ways. I believe counseling, constant monitoring and monthly reviews should be mandatory for applicants who apply for a foster care license and receive a child. I also think a child ought to be able to give a review of his or her foster parents. I’ve experienced a lot of mentally unstable foster parents — I don’t think they were aware of what they were getting themselves into. Or they were, and just didn’t care because they knew it would be easy to get rid of me.
To all foster children that are suffering in silence, dealing with unacceptable emotional or physical abuse, SPEAK OUT! You are important and someone does care. Don’t give up on yourself just because someone else did.
Published on May 13, 2016 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.