From Tragedy to Triumph: How Foster Care Changed My Life

Megan Holmes largeI was placed into the foster care system at the age of 15. Uncertain and afraid, I had no idea what to expect living with complete strangers. Little did I know that December 29, 2009, would be the first of the best days of my young life.

I lived in several homes prior to entering foster care, including ­­my godmother’s and, after she passed from stomach cancer, her sister’s. Next was my aunt for 2 1/2 years.

When I first moved in with “Auntie M” I was happy. But then a cell phone went missing. I didn’t take it, but I wanted peace in the home, so I took the blame–and the punishment. Because of that dishonest confession, I was later accused of stealing jewelry, and the living situation with Auntie M became increasingly intolerable and brutal.

At times I was confined to the laundry room, or had to stand in front of my aunt until she permitted me to use the restroom, eat dinner or to go to bed. I was also given small portions of food–ramen noodles, a can of vegetables, sometimes nothing at all. On an extremely good day, I would be allowed to indulge in the same meal as my family—but from a small saucer.

To “teach me a lesson,” Auntie M didn’t give me what I needed to bathe, wash or style my hair, brush my teeth, or even for my monthly cycle. My classmates would say how horribly I smelled. Hearing those words crushed the few feelings I had left, and made me feel like scum.

One morning Auntie M said she was going to put me in foster care. Before leaving, she pat searched me to “make sure I didn’t leave with anything that I did not arrive with.” When we arrived at the Department of Social Services, she painted a picture of what would happen: “So you want to be placed in a group home and to get RAPED, jumped by all of the girls there….?” After that scare tactic, I was terrified—and endured more abuse at her home.

After an intense beating from both my aunt and uncle, I came to school with many welts on my legs. A teacher made an anonymous report to DSS. The following Saturday, there was knock on the door from an on-call social worker–but for some reason she didn’t take me away.

Another time, Auntie M took me to the juvenile justice office, threatening me with arrest. I’d finally had enough. When we left we began arguing, and, almost perfectly, a county sheriff drove by. He took me to DSS; the same on-call social worker was there and said, “Okay, this is it! Since you guys have had run-ins with DSS before, we are putting Megan into care.” It was the beginning of a new life for Megan Holmes.

That first night my foster mother, Mrs. Boyd, said, “The towels, wash cloths and extra bars of soap are in the hall closet. Here is a set of pajamas for you for tonight; we’ll get you some other things tomorrow. This is your room, and here’s the remote. If you need anything, just let me know.” It was the first time I was able to shower in what seemed like a lifetime. I cried most of the night because I was so thankful. I knew life would be completely different now.

The Boyds helped rebuild my confidence, and made me feel the love that had become so foreign. The first Saturday at their home, my foster dad gave me $20. “What’s this for?” I asked. “It’s your allowance,” he said. I was speechless. On Valentine’s Day, I woke up to find chocolate, and a card with $50 dollars in it! I was truly beside myself.

The Boyds have helped me accomplish more than they may realize. I lived with them until my 21st birthday in 2015, and I am grateful for the blessings they have bestowed upon me. The pastor and spouse of my church have also taken me under their wing, and it has helped heal my broken heart.

I have been blessed to travel to Georgia, Florida, and Colorado through the LINKS program, which teaches youth in care about independent living skills. I also visited New York with the Boyds. That may not seem like a big deal, but it was a dream for someone like me. I purchased my first car, and I am soon to graduate from North Carolina Central University, double-majoring in Spanish and Social Work.

I now have the privilege of working with other foster youth to share my testimony of how God blessed me through being placed into substitute care, and how I have grown as an individual from this experience. Although I am not yet where I would like to be in life, I am not where I once was. I am on the right path to seeing myself the way that God sees me, which is unapologetically beautiful.

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.