A thing that I rarely talk about is that I spent time in the foster care system when I was younger. My stepfather at the time was a cruel and awful man so I could no longer live in the house with him. I also couldn’t go live with my dad because I had been adopted by my stepfather (long, long story and it never should have happened). I knew I wanted to live with my dad eventually but there was some legal wrangling that had to be done first. During that time, I went to live with my foster parents, Danna and Phil.
Let’s pause a minute. Why am I even telling this story? Well, I hear so many horror stories about the foster system and very few positive ones. I have a very positive story so I wanted to share MY experience. I have two reasons for this: 1) If someone you know is in a bad situation, don’t put off reporting it because you are afraid of “the system” 2) Think about opening your home to fosters if you have the time and space to do so. You could change a kid’s life forever.
Ok, back to my story.
I went to live with Phil & Danna when I was in 7th or 8th grade. Prime teen angst years. They took me in and made me a part of the family. I had three older foster sisters, Mechelle, Melisa and Roxanne. I also had two cutie patootie nieces, Felicia and Mikela. They taught me to do my hair, wear makeup and got me into contacts instead of my bottle thick glasses. More than anything, though, they gave me a safe place to be a kid…something I hadn’t had in a long time.
After I moved in with my dad, I continued to go over to my foster parent’s house most afternoons after school. Me moving didn’t mean that they washed their hands of me. They were by my side through high school and beyond.
Last week, I went back to visit my family in Alabama. I went to see my mom and my dad like most people do when they go home. I also went to visit my foster family. I stayed with my sister, Melisa and went to my niece Mikela’s husband’s birthday party.
Basically my foster family didn’t replace my family they just added to it. They took me in when I needed them but kept on supporting me every day since then. I am one of the family and always will be and I can’t thank them enough for that. It meant so much for me way back when and still means so much for me today.
So next time you hear something about the “terrible foster system” remember that isn’t always the case. Real people can make real changes in the lives of a kid in need.