Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adulthood and growing up in foster care


I believe everyone is just a child in a grown up body.  The older I get the more I have come to realize that the magical maturity I expected to come with being an adult just doesn't exist--at least not in anyone I know.  If normal people feel this way when they grow up, what do you think it's like for foster kids when they grow up?  There should be an extra one of these cartoons about childhood for foster children.  What separates most people from former foster kids is that we never learned how to be kids.  Childhood is about learning to trust, problem solve, have proper boundaries, socialize, love and feel loved, learning how to get your needs met, learning to progressively feel safer in the world until you can manage it independently.  Childhood exists so people can learn about the world slowly and safely with some love, security, support and encouragement from people who know a little bit about life.  Childhood is about practice for adulthood with parents being the coaches and the cheerleaders.  Most of us former foster kids never learned how to thrive and grow up.  All of our energy went into basic survival.  If an infant doesn't receive the love and attention it needs from caregivers that infant will "fail the thrive."  The same thing happens with older children, it's just less physically obvious.  A seedling will not grow if it doesn't get it's basic needs met.  Neither will people.  In order to grow up you have to start out as a child and be nurtured along the way.  Foster kids don't get to be children.  As a result we age out into a scary alien world alone.  Our bodies just got older, but we never got to grow up--not really.  We don't grow up.  We age out.