A Blog from a Former Foster Kid
As a foster kid, something significant about permanency and supportive adult figures is that there typically is a lack of the two. During my time in care, there was always a wave of people coming in and out of my life and vice versa. I came to accept that this was just a part of life. However, now I have grown to understand that all those “lost” connections were never really lost.
Even when a connection ends, the memories and experiences shared remain woven into the fabric of your being. The truth is, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the people who came and “gone,” whether it came to my parental figures, my closest family members, or all the social human service workers who have helped me. I’ve often felt alone, but I have also felt connected and supported. Throughout my life, I’ve come to find those who have supported me over and over again in life, like reincarnation. Sometimes, Mom and Dad were found in others, just as the amazing therapist and social worker were found again in an amazing professor or colleague. All the supported times, connections, and memories are within me and will never be lost. They are permanent. If it weren’t for everyone who supported me, I would be the one who was lost. This gratitude I have is because of them. I know they are all rooting for me. Again, this is another version of the support they have placed with me. This is why it is important that foster youth and all people receive support in all areas of life. There is no such thing as too much support, only the absence of it.
To Experience Emotionally Mature Adults is to Experience Healing
As an alumni of the foster care system and now a teacher for students in an elementary school setting, I feel deeply honored when I am the chosen preferred adult for my students because I know, from my experience in care, how difficult it can be to find a connection that truly is safe, healing and long-lasting. In care, I knew a few things to be consistent. I knew I would have a foster family, but I did not know for how long and that I would attend school. These were the places where I sought out trusting adults and found a mixed bag of adults that were on a spectrum from being emotionally available to not at all. What I craved most were adults who were consistent in their ability to act in an emotionally mature way. I was always on the lookout to see if a foster parent could be there for me emotionally. I had caregivers who were emotionally available to hold my grief around losing my bio-parents and being placed in the foster care system. Ultimately, these adults became the ones who I call family today. These caregivers taught me that vulnerability is allowed and that using fighting words to heal my trauma would only push them away. I learned to be clear and kind when verbalizing grief. Moreover, I never expected perfection from them to be emotionally mature caregivers 24/7. I craved an explanation when they were unable to be there for me, which helped soothe my hurt inner child and modeled how to verbalize my emotional hardships. I wanted a trusted adult to tell me why they could not be there and explain to me how they would do better next time. This is something my bio-parents struggled to do and something I wished I had experienced more of when any caregiver, social worker, teacher, or foster parent made a mistake.
Last week, at the dinner table with my chosen family, we discussed how difficult my early teenage years were, and I was able to verbalize how previous foster homes had emotionally abused me. They listened and agreed that I never deserved that maltreatment. They allowed me to speak openly and honestly. They reflected on their parenting and their thought process in supporting my healing journey. I remember thinking to myself, “This is healing. This is the type of connection I always deserved from an adult. This is what emotional support feels like from family.” As an elementary school teacher, I consistently tell my students, “I care about you. I care about what happens to you both at and outside of school. If you need someone to talk to, I can be that person for you.” Every day, I strive to be emotionally available for my students and give the gift my chosen family gave me. The gift of experiencing emotionally mature adults and the healing power that comes with it.