Rising Above The System

(I wrote this to foster children who were in the Independent Living Skills Program in San Diego many years ago.  They were compiling some words of advice from former foster kids to put into their ILS booklets. I wanted to let them know that even though things may seem crazy right now, it will get better and many of the choices they make now will impact their futures.)

Rising Above The System

Being placed in the foster care system can be a very difficult and heart breaking experience. I was placed in the system by my mother when I was 2 1/2 years old. I was very young and very scared. I grew up knowing that my mother had dropped me off in some parking lot. Although I loved her, I was very angry. I felt as though I was no good, my own mother didn't even want me. I couldn't understand how anyone else could possibly care about me. I felt neglected, hurt, and worthless.
I moved many times throughout my 15 year stay in the system. I had 17 placements, not including the emergency placements. I was even adopted, but the family gave me up because I had poor bonding skills. I knew that I had a mom out there somewhere, and I did not want all of these strangers trying to be my parents, I didn't need them, besides they didn't really care about me, how could they? My own mother didn't want me! I knew that these people would end up throwing me out at the first sign of trouble from me. In fact, I got into trouble on purpose. It became a game to me, how long would it take for each new set of parents to kick me out.
Many of the homes I was placed in were not very nice. Abuse took place and we were treated like housekeepers. I did have a couple of good foster parents but I was so scared of everyone, I didn't want to get hurt so I pushed them away.  When I reached my teens, I was placed in yet another foster home.  I was so messed up and scared that I didn't realize just how special this foster mom really was. I treated her and her entire family like dirt for almost 2 years. I tried everything to get thrown out, but she would not give up on me like most of the others did. After a while I began to understand that I was important, and that even though I was told by many that foster children never succeed in life, I knew that I was "somebody". In fact, I saw my experiences in a whole new light. I used to feel sorry for myself because I was abused, molested, abandoned, and neglected. Now I felt strong. I had survived so much. I made it through. I was not weak. I wasn't going to let myself fail and turn around and blame society for all the horrible things that I had to endure. I conquered the system.

Everything Happens For A Reason

I believe that everything happens for a reason. You have the choice to turn your life experiences into positive strengths. Don't let yourself become a victim of the system!  You have to rise above all the chaos and gather the strength to save yourself from self-destruction. Your life is yours alone. If you choose to make decisions like using drugs or ditching school, you are only hurting yourself. You are allowing yourself to become a statistic. Prove to the others that foster kids can make a difference. Use your knowledge and experiences to help the children that are in the system now, and the others that will enter it in the future.

Destroy the Cycle of Abuse

In almost every family today, there is a cycle of abuse that has been passed down through the generations. This cycle is most likely the key reason why you are a foster child today. Your parents and their parents and so on, have been living the only way that they were taught, through the cycle of abuse. They have passed this down to you. You have a great opportunity right now while you are in foster care. You can step back and look at how you were raised, and ask yourself if this is how you want to raise your own children. Remember the abuse and the neglect?  Remember how hard it was on you and how empty you felt inside? No one would wish the experiences of an abused child on their own children. Learn from your parents' mistakes. You are so special and you have so much strength inside you. You have endured so much, more than most people have to go through in an entire lifetime. You have wisdom beyond your years, use it wisely. Don't let your future children suffer, destroy that cycle of abuse. Be the first in many generations to stand up and shout that you have had ENOUGH of this nonsense. Take that first step, break the chains of abuse for good.

You Are Not Alone

There are times that will always be a challenge ahead of you. It is a very tough road that you are taking and sometimes you may feel as though no one understands what you are going through. There are millions of foster children throughout the world. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. I would like to be there for you if you need support, or a friend.  Please know that you can write me anytime.  

You Have A Story, Share it With Others

My outlook on life has changed by understanding that I determine my own fate. I now choose to say that I have been blessed to discover that my experiences have given me a gift, the gift to help others that are hurt and confused like I was. I feel good because I know that people listen to what I have to say, and after my speech, or hearing my story, they have a better understanding on how to foster their children.

I encourage you to write your story.  Write it down on paper and when you are done, read it. It will amaze you. Share it with others, they will respect you and learn from you. Send it to me, I'd love to read it! I hope you find the strength within yourself to rise above the system. In just a few years, you will be on your own.  No one will be there to tell you what to do.  Learn now, while you still have guidance. I wish you the best of luck on your journey through the foster care system. Remember that the system was built to help you, if you have any problems, don't be afraid to speak out.

 Let your voice be heard.


Sunday Koffron said...

I love this post!

Sandy Beach said...

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