For a brief moment, close your eyes; free your mind and imagine a baby, or a 2, 4, 6, or 10 year old and playing with their favorite toy.
All of a sudden, there’s a knock on the door. The foster parent opens the door and in walks a nicely dressed lady. The lady briefly speaks to them, then walks over to the child and says that they need to go with her. They don’t know where they’re going. As they are leaving, they notice the foster parents walking behind – carrying a partially packed brown paper grocery bag with all their worldly posessions. At this point, they don’t understand what’s happening; their heart starts to beat fast, they want to ask where they’re going but are afraid. Finally they take a deep breath and blurt out, “Where am I going?” The nicely dressed lady looks at them and replies, “You are going to a nice home.” The mind starts to travel, “What did I do wrong? Why can’t I stay here? Why don’t these people want me anymore? Will I see my friends again? Will I go to the same school?”
At this moment, all that they have ever known has been taken from them; everything, except their name…though they aren’t sure if even that is real.
Now, imagine that child is YOU! Imagine also this has happened to you not once but two, four, eight…even twelve to fourteen times. Imagine finally that after all this you are left to age out of the system; upon your eighteenth birthday you are thrown out by a system that has been your “parent” all those years like a piece of garbage and told, “You are an adult now…make it on your own!”
This scenario is played over and over for the many children that are faced with foster care. Sometimes, we are given a second chance in life; the opportunity to come full circle. What we do with what is offered is totally up to us and no one else. Sometimes we go from bad to worse.
Being a foster child is not what we choose to be; but something that has been chosen for us. I often see us as “a product of the system”, viewing the world differently than others may view it. In our world, we often have seen pain, mistrust, abuse and even hatred. We are given a stigma that is hard to shake; if you ever can. Words are spoken to us that hurt tour very core.
We, in turn, create our own world where we hope to find that little piece of love, happiness or stability that was taken or absent in our lives. We use this as our defense mechanism.
Whether it benefits or harms us, this is the world we create; one which I created. My world was often in a remote area of the backyard of my various foster parents home; there I played with toy soldiers thinking for awhile I could rule the world.
As foster children we long to belong, to be loved and to have our very existence acknowledged. We want to belong in a world where we are like your own children, your own relatives. We wish to belong to a family that says we are theirs no matter what. We don’t want pity, we don’t need pity; we just want to be loved and cared permanently for without the presence of mistreatment, misrepresentation or dismissal.
As foster children, we experience special occasions such as holidays or birthdays and find them especially difficult and painful. We don’t really look forward to them but can’t stop them from coming. We see kids with their families, and wish that it were us. We lie in bed at night and ask “why not me?”
I have to wonder how many biological parents or children could endure the life many foster youth have had to endure…could you survive it and be whole?
I now find myself in a position to assist other foster children in ways that I was not assisted. God does things in His own time.
When I was young, I resented my bio-parents for what they had done and often my foster parents for what they didn’t do. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to accept the hand that I was dealt and now view the negative events in my life as things to make me a stronger person and as just stepping-stones to my future.
Every child will have a story to tell. Whatever story it is; Our Children will look to their teachers, social workers, clergy, and parents, as their guide through life. Will they tell the story of hate, sorrow, mistrust and pain? Or, will it be one of love, a story of someone that made a difference in his or her life.
Now reread the first paragraphs of this entry; imagine you lived this sort of childhood; What might your story be?