In the Life of a Foster Kid

Ever wonder what foster kids really go through? You must wonder what it must be like growing up without parents/family  to guide them and teach them things. You must wonder how they cope mentally and the challenges they really face just on a daily basis. Wonder why you don’t hear about this topic often? There’s a reason why foster kids don’t usually speak up about their childhood growing up in foster care, and well I’m about to share with you my experience growing up as a foster kid and why this is such a “touchy” subject. It’s not fun getting jerked away from the parents that gave birth to you. In a child’s eyes their parents can do no wrong and they’re just completely perfect to them always so when you get pulled away from the only complicated love that you have ever known it can cause a lot of trauma to the brain.

My mother abandoned me and my siblings, and our dad was in prison at the time so there was nothing he could do (not that he would have anyway) but for some reason my brain has chose to block out a huge part of the abandonment. Thus why now I can be in contact with my parents and it not bother me. I remember losing everything I had ever known because my mother had actually sold everything in our house to feed her drug addiction, so I had a lot pulled out from underneath all at once and I’m pretty sure my brain has chosen to block out how I felt from all of that because when I take a single toy away from one of my kids they act like the world is ending so I can’t imagine the pain I felt on that day. My older sister was of age so she did not have to go into custody, and my younger brother was taken in by our aunt. It has always cut real deep the simple fact that out of my entire family (huge) family might I add not one person wanted to take me in even though I was happy for my brother. I can’t express how scared I was going into foster care. Sitting in a cold waiting room at DSS until they find you a family that will take you in, and if there isn’t a family that can take you in then they start looking at group homes.

If you are a teenager you can bet that 99.9% of the time your going to a group home because foster families 99.9% of the time want babies. Most people don’t sign up to be a foster parent to house teenagers. Let’s be honest teenagers are hard to handle so we get put on the unwanted list. I was put into custody when I was 13 but I was sent to my first group home when I was 14 and that was one of the scariest times of my life. It’s hard on a newly teenage girl because newly teenage girls need their mom to teach them about their period and to teach them morals, and love, and over all becoming a woman. I didn’t have that, and being a teenager all I wanted was someone to love me and teach me things I needed to know. Instead I felt like I was locked up in jail from the alarms on the bedroom doors to the limited food in the cold hollow building with just other teenage girls and house parents that switched shifts every day and came in and out of our lives.

There was never a consistent house parent. There were always new people just pretty much watching over us like guards. It literally felt like a prison for teenagers without the handcuffs. I needed to escape this place and see my family. I was never allowed to see any of my family. I got to see my sister one time. I longed for someone to just love me. So one day I came up with a plan to escape this prison I was in. I wanted to go back to my hometown and find my mom and so I did. I never thought I would actually succeed in escaping a group home that so many other teenagers attempted to escape from and never did. I was told I was the first. We were walking to school on campus and I just ran and never looked back. People never succeed in getting away because this group home is so secluded in the mountains away from civilization so they usually end up getting found a little ways down the road and picked up by the police or group home staff. I hid in the woods and hiked for days through mud and ponds. I was soaked and wet and freezing at night when temperatures dropped but I eventually after three days made it to a phone at a gas station and called someone to pick me up. Dedicated to get home I know!

I stayed on the run for over a year just living with friends. In that amount of time that is when I met my now husband and we’ve been together for 10 years. Eventually though my life on the run as a wanted foster child would come to an end. Someone had turned me in. As destraut as I was to go back into custody because I had finally found my love that I had longed for and now that was being pulled away too; I was so scared they were going to send me back to the group home. Fortunately they found me a foster family that was willing to take me in. I was petrified at first but as time passed and I got use to my surroundings I realized this isn’t so bad. I actually enjoyed living with a somewhat normal family. Having an actual mom and dad even though it wasn’t “my”mom and dad they still kind of were. They payed for me to go to a private school (Christian Academy) that my foster mom worked at. I thought I would hate it but it was the best school I had ever been to. I had three other foster siblings living there with me plus a daughter they had of their own. I was crowded in a small room under a bunk bed beside a crib with a baby that was born addicted to meth who cried a lot and I got very minimum privacy, but that was okay. I had finally found some happiness and peace with the Lord. As a Christian my faith had begun to get stronger and stronger everyday.

Seems like things were finally looking up for me huh? Well all of it came crashing down on me one day when word had got back to my foster mom that I had told my counselor that my foster mom allowed my foster sister’s boyfriend to stay at the house in the basement and she was ofcourse under age. I wasn’t trying to get anyone in trouble. It had just slipped up in a conversation. I mean I was just a kid having a conversation with a counseler and so apparantly she reported it. It doesn’t feel good to be a 16 year old who was finally so happy where she was living, to come home from school one day and see your stuff bagged up in a trash bag. I started crying. I was confused, and the next thing I know my foster sister is trying to fight me, and my foster mom who was obviously pissed at me, was actually instigating it. I guess this home just wasn’t meant for me. They had kicked me out. I suddenly felt that scared, terrified feeling again. “Where will they send me to now”? “What do I do now”? I just couldn’t handle the thought of going back to that group home. They actually found me a new family, and I was there very first foster kid ever. They had a daughter and a son. When I had seen my new foster mom for the first time she only came up to my waist in height but some how I ended up fitting in with this family better than I did the last. They took me in like one of their own. Ofcourse it took me a while to get use to a new home and being the only one in the home that’s not related by blood but it was family where I wasn’t judged or disrespected. However they eventually took in another foster child. A girl my age. I don’t exactly remember what happened but unfortunately something happened between my new foster sister and my new foster family which ended with us both getting kicked out.

They told me that DSS told them they couldn’t just kick one out they had to kick us both out. My hopes for finding an accepting, loving, lasting family at this point were pretty low. I had been kicked out of two homes where I had done nothing wrong, and all I wanted was to just have a stable loving home to lay my head down at night, to eat dinner with, to call my own, to feel comfortable with. No one wanted me once again. My self conficience was so low. I felt no self worth. The only person I had was my now husband who I was only allowed to see ever so often. My sister had just given birth to my niece so she was busy being a new mother and trying to make ends meet for her and her new baby. Where was I gonna go next? I actually got lucky once again there was an opening at a home in my home town. I had heard of these foster parents impaticular because this was the one home that they only accepted teenage girls. So when I heard this would be my next home I kind of got excited because I knew I would be accepted and living with only other teenage girls. I also had heard this foster home was “the place to be” as a teenage girl because they were a lot more leanient than others. They allowed “date nights”. If you were a smoker you were allowed to smoke cigarettes. I got to go back to my high school and see all of the friends that I had grew up with. So as a teenager this all sounded pretty awesome. The foster parents were an older couple. I actually have some of my best memories from this place. I still to this day talk to my foster sisters who I lived with in this home.

That was the last foster home that I lived in until I became of age, and then me and my husband built our lives together. We have three beautiful little girls. A lot of foster kids get a very bad rep. Most people don’t want to communicate with them because they think they will either end up just like their parents or they actually do end up just like their parents. Half of the people I was in foster care with had children and then had them taken away by DSS, and half the people are doing great and chose a different path like me. Most of the time kids in foster care end up in jail or doing drugs because whether they can help it or not most kids end up following in the same paths as their parents. DSS has managed to save some but they cannot save them all.

It isn’t fun being a foster kid. You feel rejected all of the time. You feel unwanted, insecure, unloved. Some kids get lucky and get adopted, but most teenagers in foster care don’t get that privilege. Nobody wants to adopt the one that’s already damaged. Foster kids deal with a lot emotionally on a daily basis. I got lucky and found a really great guy really young and I chose to find my love that I longed for through creating a family of my own, and now I dedicate my entire life to them. I still to this day have to deal with a lot of emotions that I struggle with. I struggle with anxiety, trauma, insecurities. I choose to let my children distract me from letting these emotions hold me down. I could be out there drowning my emotions with alcohol and drugs but I chose that other path. I don’t need alcohol or drugs to distract me. My kids distract me enough with their undying love and cuteness. So if you see a foster child just give them a hug and let them know they are loved and they matter because that’s what foster kids really struggle with. They don’t think that they matter and they don’t feel loved. They feel abandoned, and they certainly don’t talk about their life as a foster kid because 1.) they feel like no one would give a damn anyway and 2.) It’s honestly embarrassing. Foster kids don’t want people to know because then they will get looked at completely different. The pitty will kick in, and then we will get looked as the damaged girl who is probably mental and poor. We don’t get to fit in with the kids with the coach bags and name brand clothes. We are categorized at the lowest of the low, and all we want is to just fit in with all the normal kids.

You never know someone’s story. Someone always has it worse than you. You never know what the person standing next to you has been through. I just want to encourage foster kids that it does get better. You will be an adult before you know it and than that’s when the real struggle begins. Try to stay positive. You will find your everlasting love. Always remember to be better than your parents and learn from their mistakes. Your not limited to anything. Just because your parents made mistakes doesn’t mean that you can’t shoot for the stars and be whatever your heart desires.

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