"Those who have been or currently are in the Foster Care System, what do you wish people knew?" –– That was today's burning question from Redditor KanyesNotABadGuy, opening the door for one of the more eye-opening topics to catch our attention in a while.
"I got really, really lucky..."
I got really, really lucky and was placed with a decent family that didn't treat me like a second-class citizen. I was family. I've seen horror stories of other places where kids starve or are mistreated in their homes. I had the best possible situation and I won't deny that at all.
However.. It's still so much to deal with as a small child. Remember when you were a kid and you cried when left at the babysitters? Imagine going to live at the babysitter's house. My mom wasn't a bad mom.. she was a troubled woman trying to get away from an abuser. I was in the home for about half a decade.. which is an eternity as a small kid. At 10, half my life had been split between two moms and I wasn't sure what I was allowed to feel. When I finally went back home would my real mom be upset that I missed my foster mom? Should I talk about missing my old school?
The home I stayed at also had upwards of four foster kids at a time, who shuffled in and out. A bunch of kids from ages 3-16 who had been through some horrendous stuff. And there I was, a broken kid surrounded by other broken kids. It's a hell of an environment, no matter how good the parents are.
"Had a pretty happy family..."
Had a pretty happy family until I was in high school. Played sports, oldest of my siblings, middle class family, no worries. Right before high school my mom and dad got divorced. We stayed with my mom and things went down hill from there. I ended up aging out of foster care.
I think some of the most important things some people should realize is that supporting the child during foster care AND after they have aged out are key. I was lucky enough to be part of a program where they would give me a stipend every month as long as I was a full time student or working a full time job. I can't tell you how critical it was and how beneficial having that extra money to help buy a car, groceries, and an apartment was. Even with no family or safety net I ended up becoming a pretty good functioning member of society.
I also want to add that Case workers are sometimes some of the greatest people on this earth and can really make or break a child's life. From placement into a home, to advocacy for you in family court, to showing you all the resources available to you as a state ward or foster child.
The last thing would be that being patient with someone who has gone through that is a big thing. I had no idea what a health romantic relationship looked like and had issues with that. Figuring out what a work ethic was, how important insurance was, how to get it, how to get a bank account. Basic every day life is not easy when you're constantly thinking about if you'll need to pack your things in a trash bag in 5 minutes to go to another house or not. So be patient, hold the the person the child or young adult accountable, and show some love. It'll make a huge difference.
"I was in foster care..."
I was in foster care from when I was 3 until I was 7. Whenever I talk to people about it, they always immediately assume it was terrible. But it really wasn't. For one thing, I was moved between 5 or 6 different houses in that time. And only one of them was actually terrible. The rest of the households were really loving. They generally accepted me as part of the family, and although it was hard to get used to at first, over time it felt like they were my family.
Foster parents are unbelievably nice people. The fact that they were so willing to bring these kids they've never met before in, and treat them like family is mind blowing. Most of the families even let my Mom come see us so that way we wouldn't feel bad.
"I wish people..."
I wish people didn't take for granted the beauty and the importance of found families for people who had to live in foster care. found family means everything for me. and i feel like people don't appreciate found families a lot, or they take those families very lightly.
"We need people..."
I wish people knew that we had to learn certain coping mechanisms that create barriers- we had to in order to survive.
We need people in our lives willing to help us remove the barriers, to know that all we want is to feel safe, to feel loved.
We know its hard to do.
We need you.
"Now I'm an adult..."
I was in foster care, on and off, for some of middle/high school. It was whatever, and always a difficult adjustment to living the life I was living (no rules, everyone doing drugs all of the time) and seemingly I'd get more in line and fit in with the family and then get moved back home or with a family member and then it would start again.
I want people to know how hard early adulthood is with no family though. I turned 17, got kicked out and was too old to be replaced. I graduated high school living at my boyfriend's parents house at the time. I had, miraculously, had a teacher who told me I could go to college and he actually helped me make that happen.
I mean, this man showed up to my part time job on the weekends and dropped off food/books/gift-cards for gas and helped me fill out a FASFA and write my admissions essay. He literally changed my life, because he cared.
Now I'm an adult (26) and I am still amazed I made it. I don't have kids of my own, but I can't wait to get to the point where I can foster kids. I know what it's like, and sometimes being a foster parent isnt only "Im going to adopt a baby", sometimes it's "I'm gonna make sure this angry 16 year old knows their options for the future" and I want to be that person for someone.
"A crisis comes up..."
Foster care was fine. It's after you leave it that is hard. Being a new adult with absolutely nobody to guide you. You want to move; you have no help. A crisis comes up, you have nobody to call. Nobody to help you figure out anything about jobs or apartments or bank accounts or insurance. No mom or dad to lend you 20 bucks when your pay cheque isn't going to last until next payday. You are sent out on your own, 18 years old, completely alone and no idea how anything works in the world. It's terrifying.
"You are often..."
I was in foster care in my teens. My experience may be different than others but I found that if you aren't small and cute you are treated as tainted goods. The social worker doesn't really care about you unless you can make the business money and if you make them good money they find a way to keep you for as long as possible. They can keep a child until they are 24 quite easily.
You are often treated as if you are bad because your parents didn't want you anymore. Upon arriving at a group home I was instantly stripped of all privileges including being able to listen to music and had to earn the smallest of things back over the next 3 months.
It felt like I was being punished.
There are also no resources for when you leave the system. Foster families are often low income, using you for the extra income given to take care of you without actually using that money on you. They often don't teach you life skills. Education can easily get messed up because you are moved around as soon as you become an inconvenience to the family. Switching between blocks and periods makes it so that your credits don't count in certain instances. When I left foster care I found out a year and a half of my schooling wouldn't count and it took another 3 months for them to transfer my records. The school told me to drop out and get my GED.
"I was in foster care..."
I was in foster care for about a year and one thing I wish more parents knew is:
Patience is so important for some children, a lot of us come from troubled pasts and trying to immediately force change whether it be things like schedule or behavior can do so much more harm than good and getting frustrated with us isn't helping much either.
"I always appreciate..."
I was in and out of foster care as a teen, 21 now. I wish people knew how incredibly difficult and lonely life can be when you age out of the system or reach adulthood. I was lucky enough to go to college and have most of my expenses paid for but it was really hard to navigate college and find support systems because colleges aren't really equipped to handle kids like us.
I always appreciated the adult mentors that tried treat me like their daughter and the friends that invited me to spend time with their families, as long as it wasn't out of pity.
I had to leave college last January (I was two years in) for a plethora of reasons. Hopefully one day I'll get to go back. The college graduation rate for former foster youth is incredibly low and I want to give kids a little hope that they're more than a statistic and their story is still unwritten.
"My Husband and I...."
My husband and I were set to foster. We had done the classes, home study, everything. However, I was diagnosed with cancer and we were unable to complete, we were then denied when we reapplied when I was in remission.
I was able to join an organization that partners with foster teens who are aging out of the system to provide mentoring services.
I am in HR and I help with resumes, interview prep, job seeking etc. I am also just an adult who is available to listen. There are ways to support the foster system if you are unable to foster a child. I am so grateful that I am allowed this opportunity! Krankenloffel
For the $$$
Family did foster care for 26 years. I was adopted when I was 5. Some are pure and want to help and maybe expand. Some are in it for $. Reddit
"The Little Brother"
I have a little brother who was adopted from the foster system. Our parents are good people. The most heartbreaking things that I noticed from him in the beginning were a kind of confusion at being treated well by our parents and also confusion at being treated as just one of us/included as a family member.
There are some not so good foster homes out there... throwawaysmetoo
Due to an ugly custody battle between my parents my sister and I spent a short time in foster care (about a year). And i was 3 when I was put in foster care, my sister a little older. I was in my "potty training" days and my foster parents made me wear diapers 24-7 and whenever I used the bathroom in my diaper they rubbed it in my face like I was a dog. Then also while I was there I got chicken pox really bad and they refused to take me to the doctor or get me any kind of cream to help the itching, just let me suffer. crazycatm0m
I personally am not a foster child, but my dad and step mom did foster care. I've had over 100 foster siblings over the years as a result. Some they've adopted, a few aged out, and most were placed back into their homes or with other relatives.
From my perspective the worst thing is when parents hang onto their rights and get their kids back. They clean up their act just well enough in the states eyes, but really nothing has changed. The kids then wind up back in the system, or even more messed up than before.
Some parents really do change for the better and become fit to parent, it's just the ones who don't that make it hard to watch. AnObviousDisinterest
My wife and I recently got our first foster care placement about three weeks ago. It's been a short time, but this has been the best and most fulfilling experience of my life. My little foster daughter is such a wonderful, strong little girl, and I am happy to be able to provide her with a safe and loving home. This is the first time in her life she's lived somewhere and not had a lot of other kids around, and I think she's really flourishing with the one on on attention. Slinkarooni
I come from a family that fostered for years with one foster moving in with us at 11 and never leaving. My parents are actually in the process of adopting him now in his mid 20s. I wish more people knew about how many weirdos are in the system. Some of the families we met were clearly just in it for the money or were super religious weirdos that seemed like they collected children.
If you're a good person who wants to do some good in the world, become a foster parent. It's one of the hardest things my family has ever done, couple kids were violent and eventually institutionalized, but so many more just want someone to love and believe in them. It was also incredibly rewarding and landed me another brother who I love very much. Tress33
It's not that bad....
It's not as bad as people might think.
But, I also consider myself very lucky because I know it could have been worse.
I was taken away and placed with a foster family immediately, when I was 2. They later adopted me when I was 5. My earliest memories? They were just like you would expect with any other family. The made absolutely sure that we weren't treated like anything other than family.
Things were a lot harder for them then it was for me, as they fostered other children, children they didn't think should go back to their families but there was nothing they could do. One of their biggest regrets was not being able to adopt my brother as well, since the courts ruled in the favor of his father (half siblings).
They taught me that just because someone is related to you, doesn't make you family. Those that treat you like family, are family. Mrs0Murder
Some farmers use foster kids as essentially slave labor. I was one of those kids. I got up at 4:30am to go round up the cows off the 180 acres, and get milking started before I could get ready for school. In summer it was the same except full herd milking and more chores all day.
Couldn't ever go anywhere, and smelled like dung all the time no matter how much I showered. Hated it. Ran away, but social services brought me back. I did learn a good work ethic though. trickyelf
My sister is a foster parent. She said that the episode of The Simpson's where they have to go to parenting classes to get the kids back is closer to reality than you'd think. Nach0Man_RandySavage