A Note to Present/Former Foster Youth

The note below was shared on Facebook with the Foster Care Alumni of America Group. It was such an amazing, awesome, heartfelt article that I requested permission to reprint it here on my blog. It expresses so many of the thoughts and heartaches I experienced while in foster care but also shares the positive thought that one can make it no matter the obstacles they may have to over come.

by: Sunday Koffron

Bad stuff happens to good people, it is not fair but it is true. You deserved better than you got. From your original parents, from your workers and from the system, they let you down. That is not your fault. You did not make this mess you are currently sitting in, nope you didn’t. Where you are at is not the wrong place. It is exactly where they dropped you off and left you to your own devices. I would say you are exactly where you would be expected to be. But the truth is if you are not currently incarcerated, homeless, and pregnant by 20, or have lost custody of your own kids, you have already beaten the statistics. Got a job? You are a raging frigging success! I commend you, that is no small feat for folks like us.

Some of us have had it worse than others. Some of us go on to be academically successful; some have great success in their careers. Some of us beat all reasonable expectations by still being alive at 25. What I am saying baby, is that you are ok. I know you don’t believe me now but it is true.

Growing up I was lucky that I had staff and social workers who had come through the system, and they would tell me that I had the power over my own life, that things would get better and that I could do anything I put my mind to. *cough* *choke* *gag* oh yeah, *eye roll* they just didn’t understand what it was like to live in my head. They must not have been as damaged as I was in the first place. They must not have lost as much as I lost. They must not have had to resort to the kind of stuff I did to survive. They just didn’t get what it was like to be me. I just knew they were all wrong about me. I was not like them.

I cut, I drank (I blacked out), I fought, I slept around, I couch surfed for years and I did a lot of really stupid things. I hitch-hiked a crossed this country several time trying to find someplace – any place I belonged. I loved people, hurt people and I made many mistakes. It wasn’t pretty for a while, but I survived, I thrived. …And so will you my sweet, sensitive, wounded little sister (or brother). I can see those eyes rolling now. I know you think I am wrong. I don’t know what it was like to live in your head. I don’t know what it was like to live your life or feel your pain. And I don’t know exactly. But what I do know is that our lives, our pasts, and the amount of pain we have been able to withstand have left us uniquely qualified for survival. You won’t catch me shedding a single tear because the garage door open broke.

There is a lot left here for you to do. You are the voice for our younger foster kin, our little brothers and sisters who are stuck in a broken system, most of whom will find themselves out in the cold and on their own the day they turn 18, just like you and just like me. Your voice can help advocate for them. Your voice can help change that. You have a book to write, a song to sing, a meal to serve, a hand to hold or a billboard to paint. You are crazy strong and foster care gave you a crazy powerful will.

No, you didn’t make that mess, it’s not fair but I know you are capable of cleaning it up. I know you are fully capable of doing anything that you put your mind to. And I know that you have a lot of good left to do in this life. Keep on keeping on, I have high expectations for you.

 

Advertisements

Sen. John Kerry Introduces Reconnecting Youth To Prevent Homelessness Act

This week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act to protect children in foster care from ending up on the streets. The bill features a section dedicated to protecting and providing support to LGBT youth.

In a statement, Kerry said preparing for and planning responses to youth homelessness is vital, especially when considering the amount of children that face this challenge.

“As a father, it’s a punch in the gut to imagine children living on the streets, but this year alone, one in fifty American kids will be homeless,” he said. “There are common sense reforms we can implement to help make things better.”

NPR reports that an astounding 40 percent of kids who age out of foster care will become homeless. And according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, out of the 2 million youths who experience homelessness each year, 1 in 5 identify as LGBT.

Because many LGBT youths find themselves homeless because of familial rejection, the bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to create programs that are centered on “reducing dejecting behaviors and increasing supporting behaviors and understanding among families to improve the chances of LGBT youth remaining at home.”

The bill would also make sweeping changes throughout foster care programs, such as keeping kids in the system until they reach 21 years old and creating easier accessibility to funding and education resources.