As a mentor for the last few years to two foster youth now in their 20’s, I have often felt like I was not able to spend enough time with them because of my work or personal obligations. I wondered if I did enough and frequently wished I could spend more time with them. I care about them and enjoy spending time with them, and I want to be a positive influence and enduring part of their lives.
On the surface, the first five years of my life looked wonderful as I had the loving support of my parents and siblings. However, my mother’s schizophrenia affected my father, a Vietnam War veteran, who resorted to alcohol to handle the stress of caring for a mentally ill spouse. I was removed from my family and set adrift from foster home to foster home for eight years. I felt alone and confused, continually moving without a stable environment with no permanent family and no sense of security.
A few years ago, I co-wrote an opinion piece on the need for adoptive families for teens in foster care. It ran in the Washington Post and then got picked up by papers across the country. We hoped it would lead to more teen adoptions so I was excited when new volunteers joined DCFYI after they read the piece.