When you enter foster care, no one tells you that after losing your biological family and dealing with the heartache that comes with it, there’s a chance you will have to repeat this traumatic experience. More times than usual, foster youth do not have the privilege of finding their “forever family,” and they are forced to lose their support and care.
After being taken out of my birth mother’s placement at 13, my world was crushed. Not only did I lose my birth mother, whom I admire most in life, but I also lost all five of my siblings. It took me years to cope with the trauma. However, I was soon reunited with my two younger siblings. We were eventually placed with a foster family who we thought would be our new, permanent family. The sad truth was that we were placed into a family that was neither ready for nor interested in extending their family circle. They were more interested in the benefits of having three foster children in their home and being applauded for taking on big responsibilities. These responsibilities included basic things, such as making foster children feel welcome in the home, as well as providing necessities for them.
In their eyes, they had to rearrange their whole life in order to adjust to our presence, and they had no problem reminding us. It felt as if we owed them our lives for taking us in and their every wish was our command. Foster parents often mistake their savior complex as a way to manipulate foster youth into thinking they owe them something in return. The truth that some youth don’t seem to realize is that these families had a choice to take them in and they do not owe anyone anything in return.
After being together for five years, I finally felt like me and my siblings had built a new home with a wonderful family despite all the struggles that came along with it. This feeling came to an end before my 18th birthday, when things started to suddenly take a turn; this was because I would soon age out of foster care. They would no longer receive benefits for taking care of me and therefore had no use of me being in their home. Instead of keeping me as a part of their family, they chose to drive me away to the point of not wanting to have anything to do with them. They would ignore me and make the other children in the home do the same, or they would pick a fight with me just to send me to my room. After turning 18 and barely starting my senior year of high school, I had to deal with losing my family for the second time.
However, this time, it hurt even worse than the first time. I was at a point in my life where I needed all the support and reassurance I could get, but in their eyes, I was already an adult who could care for herself. What hurt the most was going through my senior year of high school and seeing everyone else have their families next to them the whole way through. I, on the other hand, had to go through senior photos, prom, college applications and graduation with no support along the way. I went on to college, where I struggled to adjust to many new things that came along with adulthood while I saw other students who had their family by their side even though they were also “adults.” I think it is important for people to understand that foster youth are not typical, well-adjusted adults once they turn 18. From my experience, this is the time when they need the most support.