What It’s Like To Be A Foster Child
I’ve been asked many times, “What is it like being in foster care?”. With so many books, movies and tv shows depicting life of foster kids there are many common misconceptions. No 2 foster kids have the same story to tell. We all went through different abuse, living situations and it all has effected us differently. Though its hard to describe what is like to be a foster child in words I will try to paint you a picture. Here’s the quick story of what it was like to be a foster child.
I can remember that day when we we’re removed from our house. We were taken to the DFS office and that night the foster care worker told my brother’s and I we wouldn’t be going back home. The first thought in my mind was “where we would be going?”. I was 15 at the time and had heard horror stories about living in a foster home. I was more than worried, I was scared. I was mentally getting myself prepared for what I might face. I expected the worse and felt like I might have to protect myself and my brothers from something. We were told we were going to go stay with a family that lived on the outside of town. It was called emergency placement.
That first day in the home was extremely awkward. No matter how much someone opens their home to you the awkwardness is still there. We were going to a new home where we didn’t know how they lived or how they did things. You don’t know their routine, their rules or expectations. They did eventually cover some of the rules and tried to make us feel as comfortable as possible given the situation. All we had were the clothes on our back and a few things pairs of clothes my parents had dropped of the case worker. My brothers were younger so they had a lot of questions, most of which couldn’t really be answered. They had other kids which seemed fine with us staying there and seemed to enjoy our company, but I always wondered what they thought of us taking some of their attention. I was scared, but I tried not to be “needy”. With every new situation I would feel worry. I would get into an activity we were doing, but when it was over, what was next? I think the biggest thing I felt in the beginning as a foster kid was “what’s next?”.
I really felt uninformed about the whole process from DFS. I thought we would be placed with my extended family and just be in foster care for a short amount of time. For us that wasn’t the case. After a week in emergency placement we were told we were going to be moved to another home. I was told it was a children’s home in another town I had never heard of. The word group home didn’t bring to mind any rainbows and butterflies. While in emergency placement I had learned we were in a safe place and I didn’t want to leave the security we found. We had no choice though and we packed up the little we had. On the drive out to our new home I remember not wanting the drive to end. I had so much racing through my mind as we approached the group homes. There was a sign out front and we pulled past one home and down to another. It was a very large house and there where kids several kids there. We pulled in and after a few minutes of my caseworker introducing us she left. This was my new home. I settled into a small school with a graduating class of 30 something. Everyone knew I was a foster kid that and that was stigma I had to overcome both in school, in the community and in work. It’s funny how someone can feel sorry for you, but can think of you in a bad light because of the same reason. It’s hard to maintain school, trying to fit in, what’s going on with your parents, your life in your foster home and your emotions all at the same time. I had visits with my parents, going through the motions until they signed away their rights. It’s a mix of emotions when it finally happens. Even though I didn’t want to go back I wanted them to admit what they did. After they signed away their rights I definitely felt it was me against the world. I knew I would have to toughen up because I wouldn’t have parents to turn to.
As a foster parent please don’t take everything personal. Sometimes things are just so confusing and it’s hard to know how to let it out. Most foster kids just want to me in a “normal” family life and are cared for. Try to make sure you keep kids in the loop. I always hated feeling like something was going on in my case and I weren’t being told. I understand not everything can be shared, but being left in the dark is scary. Do make sure and let us know what there is something to look forward to. Being in foster care doesn’t sentence you to anything
. You may not have had control of how the story started but you can write the ending.