My Lost Decade

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What it takes to overcome obstacles

What is it that makes some of survivors and other people unable to cope in the face of adversity? I have been asked many times why I think it is that I have been so successful, while other foster kids wind up homeless, addicted or incarcerated. The most honest answer I can give is that I don't know.

I have a lot of theories that I am happy to share. Maybe my early memories of my maternal grandmother and her love for me somehow sustained me through tough times and made me stronger or the fact that my birth mom has always felt I walked on water and I did not want to disappoint her with failures kept my nose to the grindstone. Maybe it was my aunt telling me how smart I was and how I should go to college some day that kept me from becoming a teenage parent. Maybe it was supportive foster parents, an involved case worker, good teachers or a circle of friends who generally did not do things that were immoral or illegal tht kept me away from drugs and alcohol. Maybe it was some combination of all of these or maybe those things have nothing to do with me making good choices. I do not honestly know.

My foster dad and my social worker continue to claim that I have some sort of internal fortitude that pushes me to fight when other people would surrender. If that is the case, it must not be genetic. No one else in my biological family has this instinct to rise above. If it is not genetic and it is not a product of the treatment I received from early childhood until now, then how did I get this magical power to see the light at the end of every tunnel and keep going until I get there? I do not think their internal strength, as wonderful as it sounds, is its own entity, but a result of something greater.

Am I about to make an argument for the existence of God? Sort of. Bad things happened in my life. I would not wish them on a child, but I would not unmake their existence in my own life. The thing is, I never was dealt any more than I could handle, with the support of the people who were in my life at the time. I could not have handled all of these things completely on my own, with no support, so I had to learn how to reach out for help, but I do not consider that a bad thing. It brought me closer to people and gave me an insight into the humanity of my fellow beings. Bad things happen to us all, but knowing that there are people there to walk with us through our hard times can make it a lot easier. It seems like my life is an argument for divine design merely by the fact that someone or something brought me the people I needed at just the time I needed them, like angels among us.

So what kept me off of drugs, in school, not pregnant and out of jail? In my mind, it was the right people at the right time, caring about me and acting as the hands of God. If a foster child is floundering, the first question I would ask is if they have an adult who they feel close to. If not, that should be the first priority for their worker.