Dear Foster Brothers and Sisters,
My name is Kurt Holden and I am 27. I was placed in foster care at an early age, early enough that I am unable to recall exactly how old I was. However, I do recall the reason: my mother and father struggled with heavy drugs and alcohol.
While in care, I went to a few different foster homes, some of which were ok, some not so ok. Foster care could be very difficult during holidays when I would see the biological children of my foster parents opening the newest and best gifts (video games, basketball hoop, name-brand shoes and clothes), and I would only get socks and underwear. It made me feel as if I wasn’t part of the family.
Being separated from my own siblings only made this worse. Throughout my time in care I always felt the effects of not being in the same home as my three biological brothers. There were times that we were together, but they never felt like they were enough. I became angry and that led me to being depressed for many years. I isolated myself from others at times and sometimes would fight for attention.
However, at my last foster home, my foster father tried his best to push me and prepare me to be successful. He took me out to eat and talked with me about my future, took me to play golf, and would just take time to mentor me. It was the first time in a long time that I trusted someone, so it was devastating when he passed away before I graduated high school. In the blink of an eye he was gone.
After his death I lost my sense of direction. I did not have anyone else to step up, mentor me and push me. I graduated, but became homeless and “couch surfed” briefly. When I enrolled in college it was because of the dormitories – I needed a more stable place to call home. But I did not apply myself. I was more focused on working several dead-end jobs until I saved enough money to get an apartment with my brother, who was about to go through the same thing when he aged out. It wasn’t until I was about to get kicked out for bad grades that I applied myself. I realized that my past was not entirely my fault, but my future was completely up to me.
Approximately three percent of foster youth go on to be successful in college. Many times we are told that we will never amount to anything or we will end up like our parents. We are sometimes judged for things that are out of our control and a cry for help is treated with prescription medication. I want to tell you that our scars, pain and the internal struggle of wanting to know “why me?” can be our motivation and driving force to not become statistics!
I earned my Associate Degree from Sinclair Community College, a Bachelors Degree from Wright State University, and will earn my Masters Degree next year. I am a coach and committee member with the Independent Scholars Network at Wright State, a program that was established to assist former foster youth in becoming successful at college.
I have been happily married to my beautiful wife Amy for six years and I have a 2-year-old son, Jaxon. I know growing up without a strong family unit left me in pain and broken many times. However, I used that to my advantage when having a family of my own. My wife and son get extra hugs and kisses all the time. I take those extra minutes before work or bedtime with my family to read a book to my son one more time or cuddle on the couch with my wife, because I never want them to feel the loneliness or doubt that I felt, and that has never been completely erased.
I also work as a police officer and serve on the K9 unit at Wright State University Police Department. I work hard in treating all people with kindness and with respect. Growing up I was mocked, looked down on, and judged for things out of my control. I never want anyone to feel that, ever! So working with students of all backgrounds is great because I get to make a difference by showing them the true meaning of public service is serving all people regardless of background.
So work hard! Prove the stats wrong; do not let your pain destroy you. Every day tell yourself you can do it! Go to school, be successful. Whatever it is you want to do in life, know you can do it. You may not have all the help and resources that others do, but the story of how you overcame your “mess” can be the “mess-age” that keeps someone else from giving up.
Take care of yourselves.
Your foster brother,
Originally published on May 5, 2014 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.