It is hard. You will cry. The child will cry. You will doubt. The child…
Foster Care System: From a Teen’s Perspective
My daughter, Gigi (14), has had a lot of things happen, in her life. She has not had a good beginning, but I’m a firm believer that her middle and end will be spectacular. For her (and the others mentioned) own protection, I will change the names in this snippet and I will not divulge in her private story of how she came to be a foster child. I asked her a question, the other night, and that question was “what do you want people to know about being in the foster care system.” This is her answer. I ask that you do not copy/paste/reblog this without permission per stated in my copyright disclosure at the bottom of my blog. This is from her heart and it is beautifully written.
What I Want People to Know About Being in the Foster Care System
by: Gigi C. aged 14
Foster care is a scary thing because I didn’t know what was happening. I was at the city pool with Carla, one of the people that my mom would leave me with when she didn’t want to parent. I was swimming and playing and then my life changed. All of the sudden panic happened all around me. Carla was crying, my brother’s half sister (who was always mean to me), Morgan (Carla’s daughter) was crying. I started crying because everyone else was crying. I didn’t know what was going on. She might have told me on the way there, but I don’t really remember. I didn’t understand and all of the sudden, I was pulled away from Carla by my new foster parents. I kicked and screamed and held onto Carla as tight as I could, but I wasn’t as strong as Tim, my new foster dad.
When you enter foster care, you don’t know whether those people are going to want you. If they didn’t want you, you were in a constant rotation. You go from one family to another. You feel like you are being pulled around and left at stranger’s houses. Kids are taught not to talk to strangers or accept candy from them. Kids are told to run if a stranger approaches you. You know nothing about these people. You just know that you have to stay with them. You are not familiar with them, the smells, their actions. You begin to build up a wall and you learn to stop trusting people. The foster parents say that they “might” want to keep you, but it never goes through and they then send you to other people. You quickly begin to not trust people. When kids are in foster care, a lot of people want to help. These kids need space. I felt cramped. I was not in control of anything or anyone. Everything I knew was gone.
First, when people knew I was in foster care, it bothered me a lot. It is easier now. It wasn’t my choice to be in foster care. Things are getting easier and the people that do know don’t ask a lot of question. It made me want to punch people because it is none of their business. Foster kids are just like regular kids…their family just didn’t want them. The kids had no say, the parents made the choices for us. The first thought that a kid will have, going into foster care, is “was it my fault, did I say something that made someone mad, did I do something wrong?” The kids don’t realize that it isn’t their fault.
People need to treat foster kids with respect because they are normal people. People look at us like we don’t belong and that our family is messed up. Take a normal kid from a normal family and put it up against a kid who is in foster care and who doesn’t have a normal family…people compare those things too much. They think they are better than us, but really we are the same. The only difference is the kid needs a family that will love them and take care of them. Stop looking at us differently. We are the same.
Foster kids need more love, support and care because as the child grows up, they will feel like they don’t belong because they feel like the foster family just feels sorry for them. Sympathizing is not the same thing…we don’t want to be felt sorry for. In a normal family, with born to them kids, they aren’t felt sorry for. Don’t point out we are foster children. We just want to belong.
How many kids do you have? Is that child really yours?…just say yes. When you say “no, this child is a foster child?” It makes us not feel wanted, that we don’t belong, or people look at us with sympathy. We do belong…we belong to you. Treat us like we belong to you. Don’t treat us differently. Don’t point out our differences to others.
Families who get into foster care need to be more supportive of that child and understand that child. The child needs to feel like they are wanted. When they don’t feel that they are wanted, that causes problems. The kids start pushing people away and they build the wall so high that no one can get in. They are the only ones that can protect themselves. This is our only defense.
The fear of letting someone hurt me again is too much to bear. We can never be loved again because my family gave me away. When one family doesn’t love me, then how can anyone else. We think that we can’t do anything, we can’t succeed, that we are castaways because we weren’t wanted by that first family. We don’t deserve love.
**This was written 2 years ago. I will be having her write, again, to see if her thoughts have changed or matured over the course of these 2 years.**