Youth in Foster Care Can Stay Strong and Thrive

By Patricia Virgil

Patricia-LargeHello, my name is Patricia. When I was placed in foster care I was angry and felt abandoned by my mother. I was 12 when I was pulled away from my family and placed in a foster home. I was given an opportunity to be adopted, but I turned it down, because I wanted my mom. Later I realized that foster care helped me in getting away from a horrible situation and into people who showed me the love and care I deserved.

I stayed in foster care until I graduated high school in 2008, in a total of one shelter and five foster homes. If I could change anything about the foster care system it would be the recruitment of more foster homes that are equipped to care for the needs of the teenagers. It was hard for my social worker to find me a foster home that would house a teenager for longer than a couple of months.

I also would not place children on multiple medications. I was on seven, and I always felt like I was a human lab rat. Recently I went to a high school reunion and the teachers told me that when I was a student there, I looked like I was having seizure activity all the time, and I was banging my head on the walls. They said I was the student they worried the most about after graduation.

The best memory about foster care was when my last foster mother showed me love and invited me to stay until I graduated. She motivated me to graduate high school–even though I was told numerous times by counselors and some teachers that I would not graduate in time because I struggled with English and History. Ironically, the worst memory was during that same time period. It was my senior year and I was struggling with school and, at the last minute, trying to find a college to attend, and a place to live after I graduated from foster care.

When I was in care the people who influenced me most were my last foster mom, who encouraged me to stay in school when I had thoughts of dropping out, so I could be the first one in my family to graduate; my best friend, who was there for me when I was down and led me to go to church and accept the Lord as my savior; and my teachers, by constantly staying on me about my school work, about making smart choices, and always expecting 100 percent from me.

Being a foster child has its ups and downs, but it was the best thing for me. Some of the downs were that I was teased and overmedicated, but the good has outweighed the bad. If I wasn’t placed in foster care I probably would not be who I am now–a smart, happy, and loveable young woman who is able to help others dealing with the same obstacles.

For those of you who are in foster care, I would say stay strong and strive for a better future. Better days are yet to come.

Published on May 7, 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.