Recently, I was interviewed by a bright-eyed, earnest high school student. She interviewed me for an assignment that required her to get the perspective of a foster child. I obliged, and here’s a snippet of that conversation:
HS Student: What age where you when you entered foster care?
Me: Fourteen. I didn’t know anything about it upon entry.
HS Student: What were your thoughts at the time when you entered the system?
Me: I was for sure scared because I thought some relatives would’ve been called. They weren’t. Once I entered my first foster home, I was very nervous and didn’t know what to do, how to be. I mean, I’m invading someone else’s home and I was deeply ashamed for the reasons why I was put in that position in the first place. I remember just thinking, stay quiet, speak when spoken to, keep to yourself and throw yourself into school. School was my escape from life.
HS Student: What is something you wish people knew about foster care?
Me: That it’s not the kid’s fault. When I entered the system and regular high school students found out, the first question that was asked was, “What did you do?” I think generally people confuse juvenile dependency with delinquency.
Another thing I want people to know is that ALL kids want the same thing. I don’t care what they look like, what they say, what their background is, but all kids want just a normal home with healthy, loving parents. There might be some hardened kids out there but deep down, everyone wants a stable place to lay their head at night.
Some other kids may say they don’t want to be adopted, but that is a lie. Yes, deep down we want who brought us into this world to care for us but if they can’t then we want someone we don’t have to second guess to care for us. Everyone wants stability, love and comfort.
HS Student: What is something you wished someone did and said to you when you were in foster care?
Me: In terms of action, I really wish someone sat me down and asked what I needed. If that happened, I would have said, “Clothes!”
Look, at the end of the day, I was a teenager and teenagers care how they look more than anybody. It didn’t have to be designer, but I wish someone took me on a shopping trip and I got nice shoes and clothes and was able to keep them. You see, in foster care, a lot of facilities have you lock up your belongings and you had to wear what was donated. So, I lived in sweats for a while.
But when I lived in a foster home and went to a public school…I looked like a foster kid, which was not a good look at all. How I looked impacted how I felt. As for words, I wish someone told me that I am a product of my decisions and not a victim of circumstances. I wish someone told me that, “It’s not how you start, but how you end. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control how you react to what happens to you. Also, don’t become where you came from.”