​Without Foster Care, I Never Would Have Graduated High School

​Without Foster Care, I Never Would Have Graduated High School

High school graduation is so important because it's the beginning of our lives.
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Since its graduation season, last week I got to watch my little brother walk across the stage and earn his high school diploma.

Neither of us would have had this opportunity had we not been put into foster care. Without it, we would have still been in the cult, without an education, and probably wouldn’t even have a job, let alone the chance at college.

Since I grew up a foster kid, I absolutely hate the stigma that foster kids have no chance at a normal life. No, we are not all terrible. There are two types of kids in foster care: the kids who are in care because they screwed up, or kids that are in care because their parents screwed up. I happen to be one of those kids whose parents screwed up.

Even though it wasn’t my fault that I was in foster care, I still had bad parents. My first batch scared me into doing good. They said that I would be separated from my siblings if I didn’t get good grades, or that I would be sent away because if I didn’t follow through with anything they asked of me. That scared me into joining clubs and getting good grades, and it was only because they told me that I would never amount to anything. I thrive off doing the opposite of what I’m told.

My second foster home became my permanent home. I got extremely lucky to be put in a home with some loving, kind-hearted people, who didn’t have to let me stay in their home but opened it up to me anyways. These people are the reason I am where I am.

I did a lot on my own, but they never gave up on me. I almost gave up my junior year, but they didn’t. They stuck with me when I got bad grades, they came to all my performances and took me to all my college orientations and tours. They are titled “Foster Parents of the Year: 2017.” This is what pushed me further and gave me a normal steady environment. We need more of these.

According to the National Foster Youth Institute, 641,000 children spend some time in foster care and about 50% of foster kids graduate high school, and less than 3% graduate from a 4-year college. Dropout rates have been decreasing as the years have gone by because the system has improved tremendously. A policy statement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics Titled Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care say that “Foster parents remain the major therapeutic intervention of the foster care system. Stable placement with a warm, nurturing, empathic, attuned caregiver is ideal.”

Fostering is a very hard sacrifice really makes it worthwhile in the end. I never would have been anywhere close to where I am now had I not had the support, encouragement, and resources. I could go to an actual high school, perform in musicals, have friends, have a family vacation. People don’t think that is necessary, but it is for a child who has experience tremendous sexual and/or violent trauma in their early childhood. Children like that need to have some sort of influence on what is normal and okay compared to what is not okay.

Cover Image Credit: Personal Photo

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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30 Things That Happen To The Kids Without Parents

Last-minute realizations, avoidable experiences, and questions you just shouldn't ask people

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I could summarize this entire post in one simple sentence and call it a day. I could choose to deal with my own problems and ignore others' because they don't affect me. I could gloss over the subject and pretend none of it is real. But that wouldn't be fair, mature, or loving of myself or others.

So with that, I don't think there's anything truer I can say besides I know what it's like.

I had little to no interaction with my parents. I lived with my maternal aunt and grandmother and hadn't a clue why. The confusion probably hurt me more than knowing ever would've. Obviously, there are things you just don't tell children. You'll spoil their innocence. Or, they'll understand when they're older. But for kids without parents, it's almost impossible to get it through their heads not to mature so quickly (before it's socially "time"). It's like telling the sun not to rise tomorrow. You just can't.

But I digress. I give a snapshot of my hidden experiences here with the hopes that I help...comfort...give love to someone else. Just letting y'all out there know you're not alone.

1. My entire second grade class asked me where my dad was after I said he "was" something.

I was also the new kid in town at that time. Nice.

2. My third grade teacher excluded me from Mother's Day arts and crafts because she knew I didn't have a mom.

3. A boy in my class asked if I was a robot because I had no parents. Also Batman (how would that work???).

4. Another boy (same class) asked, "Is your dad dead?" in front of the whole class on Father's Day. 

5. When my mom wasn't my chaperone for the Mommy Daughter Dance, a girl noticed and told me I shouldn't have bothered coming.

6. I never saw their faces in the audience at any of my choral concerts growing up.

7. My junior high advisor mentioned it was abnormal that I wasn't living with my parents.

8. An ex-boyfriend told me it was no wonder I was so problematic.

(What with being an "orphan" and all. You know, the usual).

9. I graduated high school with no one in the bleachers cheering for me. 

10. I got looks for bringing my only picture of my parents and I to my graduation ceremony.

11. They didn't get to congratulate me on my first job.

Or the next. Or the next...

12. I never got to tell them I got accepted to my dream college.

13. My mom and I were supposed to get matching tattoos.

14. My parents will never know I left that toxic boyfriend they worried about.

15. I look at drugs, alcohol, and addictions from a completely different angle than other kids my age.

16. I grew up never knowing what true love was.

17. I never got to have "mother-daughter gossip."

18. I never had a male role model in my life.

19. My mom never got to meet my best friends. Just some good-for-nothing boy that broke my heart.

20. I grew up cold toward tragedy. Grieving is hard now. Things just seem to happen.

21. I see parents with their college students now and it never fails to break my heart.

22. I won't have my dad to walk me down the aisle.

23. I won't have my mom to do any girl bonding with.

24. The last image I have of them is the most haunting.

25. I rethink our last conversations all the time and speculate.

26. I see their auras in the world around me. Sometimes it's freaky.

27. I have dreams about them all the time.

Sometimes good. Sometimes bad.

28. I never get to tell them I love them, or hear their voices, or see their faces.

29. My parents will never be grandparents or in-laws.

30. I still have not completed my grieving process. Even after all these years.

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