1. I grew up in foster care from the age of 2-17. At 6 I became a permanent ward of the state. I honestly don’t remember how many foster homes I was in over the years, but more than 15.
The foster care system isn’t made to create well adjusted happy children. As soon as you are happy and/or comfortable in a place, they rip you out and put you in a new home.
Having most your belongings shoved into garbage bags when you were moved every few months made you feel like you were nothing. Sometimes they wouldn’t even wait for you to be at home to grab you and take you to a new home. Being pulled from class by your social worker and 2 cops is always such a healthy fun experience. Sure makes what few friends you might have been able to make want to stay contact.
I was considered a good foster kid, but because I wasn’t a baby, I wasn’t a desirable option and it was nearly impossible to find a permanent home. Which meant I had to stay in an over crowded underfunded group home, staffed by over worked and underpaid people who stopped caring long before I came along.
Group homes were the worst when it came to abuse of all kinds and neglect. After being in a particularly awful one at the age of 6, my social worker decided I had to be in an actual foster home or stay with a one on one care giver in a hotel.
The foster home after that was a fairly decent one, but my foster mom was more than alittle emotionally unstable.
When I left that one I was placed in home after home of people who seemed to think that I was a live in slave, a paycheck, or both. They felt proud of themselves for helping this poor little girl whose mother chose drugs and men over her kids.
On average I maybe saw my social worker, different ones throughout the years, 3 or 4 times a year. That includes when I was being moved from place to place.
When I was 17 I moved on my own and have been independent ever since. I had to be, at 18 they cut you loose, since you are legally an adult and no longer their problem.
I am now a semi successful 28 year old. I consider myself to be pretty well adjusted. When people find out I grew up in the system they are usually shocked and can’t believe that someone who seems so ‘normal’ was in foster care. My response is usually I am stubborn, I lived through my life and I wasn’t going to let myself be a victim.
2. My experience of foster care was pretty mixed. I had my fair share of crappy foster placements, most of which were spent on my own as my brother and I were separated.
My first placement was surreal. I arrived home from school aged 6 to find my mother had called SS and all my stuff was being packed in plastic trash bags. And off we went into the back of a car to live with some random family. I hated it. I wasn’t a difficult kid either bit they insisted on treating me like an outsider.
Most of the placements I went to ended up with me being moved on because they couldn’t understand how to deal with me. I just wanted to feel normal and liked by everyone but being in care resulted in me being bullied… Mainly because i went to a nice rural school where kids in care was uncommon.
Most of my carers have never taken the time to get to know me or make me feel a part of a family.. All except one, which I still contact regularly.
It blew my mind when I found out that the carers I’m still in touch with were never informed of my care/family history and just assumed it was a temporary placement in which I would go back to my family. In reality my history was pretty dark and deep and if they had actually known what happened to me as a kid they might have been able to help more.
I actually accessed my care records a few years ago and was stunned at all the events that had happened which I had forgotten about or I had been lied to cover up the truth.. I definitely wasn’t prepared for that.
3. Being painfully aware that the families I was staying with did not “take me in” for any reason other than money. Abuse and negligence was an everyday occurrence, and I had no idea that abuse wasn’t normal.
My (adoptive) dad has an anecdote from when I was around 5 and came to live with him for the first time. I opened the fridge, and with wide eyes, said in disbelief, “You have food in here?” So yeah, the whole foster care system is pretty flawed and fucked up. Happy I was able to get out.
4. Foster care was the best thing that could’ve happened to me as a kid. I was taken away from my drug using parents as an infant because they weren’t feeling my siblings and I. Had no one intervened, I wouldve likely died. I also showed some FTT.
I was never adopted out, but the volunteers who took care of my were some of the nicest people I’ll ever meet. They mightve favored me a but because I wasn’t really a lash-out problem child, just a quiet kid who needed some love. The volunteers, or workers, tried their best not to split me and my siblings up, which is why we were never adopted as it presented an all or nothing deal. But there was one caretaker, Paula who I was really close with. And I remember being about 3, and I had just thrown up everywhere. And I was crying, and she told me how she really wished she could adopt me. Happiest moment of little me’s existence.
We all were returned to my parents 6 years later. Meh. I wish I had been able to keep in touch with her. So, I guess I had a great experience with it.
5. The start of my story is somewhat standard. I was placed in foster care after turning in my parents for extensive abuse at 16. I was in three different foster homes in 1.5 years.
The first asked for me to be rehomed because they wanted a younger child since they brought in more money.
The second forced me into religious settings several nights a week, separated food for me versus their own kids, made me tell in detail about my therapy sessions (which were about extremely personal abuse), or they’d lock me in my room… I could go on and on.
The worst of this place, and the first, were their blatant discussion of my monetary contribution (or lack there of) in comparison to younger children. I felt like a pay check.
I managed through my third home, which was awkward but livable, until I turned 18 and they asked me to leave the week after, homeless for a few months until I could scrape together a place of my own.
Being that I lived in a small, rural county, I had come in contact with many of the local foster youth during my time in the system.
Where my story becomes unique, I believe, is the career I chose later on at 21. I started working for my local county sheriff department, primarily in the jail.
I will tell you, seeing all my fellow foster youth pass through the system again, only now as adults who were living a life of incarceration, was devastating to me. They all told me the same story.
Their feeling of worthlessness because of how they were treated, being aware of our monetary value, and overall feelings of abandonment from bad parents were all shared among us. And here I was, locking them up. It just wasn’t fair.
6. Former lifer here, I went in at 12 and aged out. No family to speak of so I’ve been on my own a long time.
Everything is out of your control and always your fault. You’re made to feel like you’re trash, and more than a few foster homes had a closet we were allowed to use that kept our stuff (towels, supplies that we had to pay for) separate from the rest of them.
I was used to my stuff getting stolen and no one cared, just got lectured on taking better care of it even when I had done everything I was supposed to do. I was in because I didn’t have anywhere to go, not because I was a juvy, but it didn’t matter, everyone is treated as BD regardless.
Teens are considered hard to place, so it pays more and we got packed in max sq footage, usually 2-4 beds (bunks) per room depending on their license.
I was very used to coming home after school and seeing my case workers car in the driveway. Time to move. New school again. New people again. New rules again. New perfect family again /s. I lost count how many times that happened. Never any warning because they worry kids will self destruct. So immediate disruption is safer … For the adults.
Lost in the cracks is a way of life. Sometimes I’d get 3 clothing vouchers in as many months and others it would be over a year between them.
I didn’t get vaccinated at all because they moved me faster than my records could keep up, and of course if I’m asked I learned fast how to name the boosters to make it sound like I’d gotten them.
Dental care was covered but follow up care required records, so that never happened and I have terrible teeth as a result. Shoes wore out and I only had one pair, which I wore. Didn’t cross my mind to have more than one pair even into adulthood – anything extra gets stolen fast.
There was no safety net when I became an adult. My foster home when I graduated didn’t keep kids past graduation, so instead of a graduation party I had to pack and go to another foster home (I graduated too young to emancipate) literally that day.
Then when I was old enough I had to move out from there the day court was over – they wouldn’t get paid past that so my family status expired with the check lol.
Since I had no family I had nowhere to go. Everyone tends to think you have similar support resources as they do, so it doesn’t cross anyone’s mind that you’re a dumb kid completely clueless.
I lucked out that I’m pretty quick with academics, so I did fine, but there was no continuity of care and I was flying blind after high school. I had no idea the resources available to me for college, and worked to put myself through paying cash to a state school.
7. In forster care since I was 9. It is and i cant stress this enough, Nothing like your family life.
Many of us were taken from our parents or outright ditched by them. Im the latter.
Some of us never and or never will meet our parents.
A lot of Foster families, ive been in some. Have no qualms about reminding you of the godly gift of the smallest, shittiest room in the building.
They are very quick to bring up the power to instantly evict you with just a single phone call with little to no justification for it.
Foster siblings, especially if they are teenaged and or used to being only children will constantly and not hesitate to take advantage of their parent’s favouritism over you.
Its not all hellish. I was eventually put into a very good placement. They went through hell to help me through the hell of my mind and emotions and help me balance out as a person.
They made sure i was aware of the pride they felt for me without me becoming conceited in anyway. They were so good to me they even allowed to stay and rent my room after i left the care system. There are good people as Foster parents. There just needs to be more.