My Lost Decade

Reflections on Ten Years in Foster Care and my life since.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What lies ahead

I sometimes think foster children would benefit greatly from their foster parents knowing what is in the future for them. A lot of the foster parents I have spoken to have said that the future of the children they love is a major worry for them. They wonder if this child will wind up homeless. Will they finish high school? Will they create another generation of foster children? Will they become a substance abuser?

These are all valid concerns for any parent to have about any child, but I think with foster children it is that much more apparent how possible these fears are.

I sometimes find that I do not have the words to console foster parents or to help them know what to do. Since I do not have the pressure of a foster parent standing before me right now looking for the answers, I thought I would take this opportunity to list off some of the things I credit with me not making those bad choices that lead many foster children back into the system.

A good, realistic connection to my biological mom. I always knew what I could and could not expect from her. There was no fantasy about her coming to rescue me from my foster parents' rules. If I did not obey my foster parents and she heard about it, I got a hard time from her. Also, she was the best mom she could be, in spite of her disabilities. I learned that good parenting is the most important thing you can do and that I shoudl appreciate the fact that I will have the faculties to do it to the fullest and should not cheat myself or my children out of that opportunity.

A safe distance from dysfunctional family members, but with the ability to know what was going on with them. I was never forbidden from having contact with them, but they were far enough away to not be a disruption to my life. I could see the mistakes they were making and the reprocussions, but was not subject to the consequences of those mistakes.

A good case worker who was present all ten years I was in care...and beyond. She wrote letters of recommendation for me for college, came to my wedding and still sends me Christmas cards every year.

When I did happen to be in bad placements, I had friends whose families accepted me and treated me as one of their own. I still have connections to two ofthese friends and their families.

Foster parents who encouraged me and made me feel like my dreams and goals were in my grasp. I knew from the age of ten that I could and would go to college as a result of these foster parents.

A D.A.R.E. officer who made it about more than drugs. It was about choices and what you wanted to get out of life and how the choices you make lead to specific outcomes.


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