Fifteen years ago, if you would have told me that I would one day be a foster parent, I would have laughed in your face. I wanted to be so far away from the “system” that nothing would have convinced me that one day roles would be reversed, and I would become the one advocating. No money could of tempted me to open my home to the kind of kids I was in homes with, the kind of kids that I was living with, the kind of kids I saw come and go… but even more so… the kids like ME!
I was a NIGHTMARE for some of my foster parents. I screamed. I yelled. I hurt myself. I never hurt anyone else though. I ran away. I engaged in the riskiest behaviors that would leave you slack jawed to know that I was still alive today after what I did, and what I went through. I had good foster homes. I had bad foster homes. I had foster parents I fell in love with. I had foster parents I feared sleeping under the same roof with. It was all over the board.
Now, today, I fight for the kids in my home. From the infants to the teens, we accept them all. We aren’t picky. We don’t judge. We’ve had teens with severe psychological disorders (rad, split personality, conduct disorder, violent outbursts) and we’ve had teens who simply didn’t care (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc). Our home has more than once been a “last resort” home before juvenile hall or long term residential.
In the past year, I’ve watched two lives be completely changed. Two teens in our home who came to us as a “last resort”. Two teens who left our homes to return to families and pursue military choices. One of these teens had a severe psychological history. You couldn’t blame them for raging out and lashing out. A mother who chose drugs over them, a mother who favored a younger sibling, a mother who walked away and left them behind. The other simply didn’t care. Drugs, alchohol, and sleeping with anyone who asked. So desperate to have a baby just so someone would finally love her.
Love. Structure. Care. Discipline. Listening. Talking. Being there. Advocating. Fighting for them.
We had our ups. We had our downs. We had stays in psychological hospitals for each of them. We had police at our home due to some of the violence. And we still fought. We struggled. We worked. We tugged. We dug deeper. I heard the “you don’t know what I’m going through” more than once. Finally, we sat them down. We talked. We explained what I had been through. And the world changed. Almost overnight. They became different teens finally able to listen and be worked with. They were willing to change. They knew they were not alone in this world. They realized that they weren’t the “only ones”.
One went on to be reunited with a biological father who didn’t know they existed. They are thriving and doing well there now. They have younger siblings. They have a “blood connection” which is something they were so desperate for. The other went on and is headed into the military. A life goal, that they thought they would never see…. All because someone believed in them.
Once again, my world has been changed. What I went through is now helping others overcome their struggles. A label I was once so ashamed of is now benefiting others. My labels may have changed, but my past has not.