As a former foster child, going through the foster care system was a very traumatic and major obstacle that I had to overcome. At the tender age of 10 years old, I was taken from my home for a second time due to the unsafe environment that I was in. My biological mother had neglected my siblings and me for many years. There were many men in and out of the house, and with that came drugs and other people abusing us with my biological mother’s permission to do so.
After the Department of Children and Families took my siblings and me away from my biological mother, we were all placed separately. Eventually, my brother and I found our way to a new foster home, which would eventually become my forever family. Thanks to the help of my foster mom, she helped me overcome the trauma that I experienced by taking me to counseling and supporting me in all of my endeavors. She taught me that DNA doesn’t make a family; love does. So on National Adoption Day in 2019, my brother and I were both adopted to live with our “village.” Here, we felt safe surrounded by a group of people who loved and supported us wholeheartedly. Thanks to the consistency and structure of my new mom and her willingness to deal with this troublemaker of a son, I was able to graduate high school in 2022 as a student with an IB Certificate and a 4.56 GPA, placing 44th in my entire class of 419.
I have a passion for advocating for children in the foster care system. I discovered my passion through my own experiences as a former foster youth. What I found was that there were few people willing, available, and interested in supporting me in being the best version of myself. Also, I didn’t have many role models who could guide me on a successful path. That all changed after multiple foster homes and multiple group homes led me to my current mom and my former foster mom’s home in 2014. It took a lot of work, but once I realized that she always put me first and had my best interest at heart, I was finally able to let my guard down and heal. I want to be that person for someone someday.
With that, I’ve come to ask myself: who else could make a difference within the foster care system, if not someone who has already been through it? As a result, I hope to be a strong representative of someone who will help solve the adversities that children face within the foster care system. This issue is near and dear to my heart, as I was in the foster care system not once but twice in my life: once, for a year, when I was 3, and then when I was 10, until I was adopted in 2019.
Over the years, I have been a very active member of my community. On multiple occasions, as the long-standing vice president of Florida Youth SHINE (FYS), I visited Tallahassee to help advocate in front of dozens of senators and members of the House of Representatives to share my story about what the foster care system is like and to offer suggestions of my thoughts on how to fix the problems within this troubled system. In addition, I have traveled around my city to help teach incoming case managers the importance of communicating with foster youth, how to inquire about the youths’ needs, how to gather information and resources, and how to support the youth and their families. The foster care community is a harsh place for many kids. My goal is to change the system, one day at a time, to hopefully bring happiness and compassion to foster kids now and in the future.
I plan to gain my MBA and use my future success to encourage ALL young people to use their voice to advocate for their needs, fosters and other youth. I want to offer a comfortable, safe place for young people to gather and practice speaking in front of others, lifting each other up, and building self-confidence. I hope to create a platform for positive communication. Unfortunately, the need for the foster care system isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. We have to learn how to speak and advocate for those unable to effectively share their needs. We have to create safe spaces for our community to talk about these things, even if they are hard and uncomfortable.