Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"NO"

Is my mom coming back for me?--NO
Can I see my mom?--NO
Will you be my mom?--NO
Will you be my dad?--NO
Will you love me?--NO
Can I stay here?--NO
Can I stay at my school?--NO
Can I see my siblings?--NO
Will you protect me?--NO
Will you love me?--NO
Will you be my family?--NO
Do you want me?--NO
Does anyone want me?--NO
Will anyone ever want me?--NO
Am I a good kid?--NO
Will I ever be adopted?--NO
Will I ever have someone in my life?--NO
Does my life matter?  Do I matter?--NO
Do my dreams matter?--NO
Will I ever be successful in life?--NO
Am I worth anything?--NO

Foster children are used to being told "NO." I never got a home.  I was never wanted.  All I ever wanted was love and family and all I ever got was, "NO."  Aging out of foster care is HARD and SCARY.  It's like being thrown into the sea without a raft or a life vest or anyone to swim along with you.  Sure a few foster children will float to safety.  A few will survive, but most will not.  Most foster children who age out Sink, get eaten by sharks or drown.  Look at the statistics.  Aged out foster children end up homeless, in prison, living in poverty.  Only 2 percent will go to college.  Even less will graduate.  Do you know why aged out children do so poorly?

BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE A FAMILY.  They don't have a support system.  They don't have someone looking out for them.  They don't have someone that loves them.  They have been told no their whole lives.  They have been told over and over again that they are unlovable and unwanted.  Those who have never been without a family will never understand what it's like to never have had one.  It's so hard to grow up without that bond.  Without love.  Without permanency and stability.  It's so hard to grow up without a family.  It's so hard to feel unwanted.  It damages you for life.  Foster children don't stop needing love and family just because they turned 18.  They don't stop needing parents and guidance.  18 is not some magical age when you become an adult.  It's just a legal age.  It means nothing.  How many 18 year-olds do you know that are really mature enough to take care of themselves without any help or support from family?  Some age out even younger.  I got my first apartment when I was 17 through the independent living program.  I failed miserably.  It is impossible to go to high school, go to work, and then go home to a tiny little studio apartment all by yourself when you are 17 years old.  I didn't really have many friends, so I spent most of my free time all alone inside that tiny little apartment, furnished with only a twin bed and a tv.

Growing up the way I have, and the way too many other foster children are currently growing up has HUGE consequences, not just for the child, but for society.  Foster children don't often learn the tools they need to survive and thrive and become productive members in society.  I am considered a "foster care success" by many but look at me!  Seriously look at this blog.  I'm in my twenties, and I am still barely surviving.  I don't have a life plan.  I don't have any money saved.  I'm drowning in student loan debt.  I am barely surviving but I'm better off than most aged out kids.  I am one of the few that went to college, that has a job with insurance.  I don't fit the statistics but I'm still dying inside.  I'm barely surviving.  I don't really want to survive anymore.  I'm tried of fighting and pretending to be okay when I'm really not.  I am damaged and I fear I will always be damaged.  There is no hope for me anymore.  My life is what it is.  I'm too broken to be fixed.  It's too late for me, but it's not too late for kids still in foster care.  It's not too late for you to make a difference in their lives.  It's not too late to prevent kids from turning out like me.

Foster children are used to having their hearts stomped on by the people they love and want to love them.  It's true that a lot of foster children have issues, but these issues are not without cause.  Foster children are not bad children.  Foster children are scared, abused, traumatized children that need someone to love them.  They need someone to say YES to them.  They need someone to stick up for them.  They need someone to love them and protect them.  All foster children need is love.  That is ALL they need.  I know some of you are going to say that they need a lot of other things too, but really all those other things come with LOVE.  When someone loves a child, they will do whatever it takes to make sure that child can heal, and grow, and thrive.  When someone loves a child, they have already given that child more than a lifetime of professional care and medication could ever give them.  Foster children need to hear yes more often.  Foster children are worthy of you.  Foster children are worthy of a family, no matter what issues they come with.  Foster children are little people who need your help.  It doesn't matter who you are.  It doesn't matter if you are single, married, gay, straight, old, young, rich, poor, middle class--you can help a foster child.  You can save a life.  You can prevent a child from turning out like me.  You can heal a little broken heart before it's too late. You can make a difference.  You can be a super hero.