Out of all the things I’ve been labeled, called, or identified as, the term foster child hurt me the most. It was not only what other kids used to call me to humiliate me, but it also carried an ugly stigma of pity as if I was always someone else's responsibility. Ultimately, the message I received from it all was that I was a mistake or that I was unwanted. I entered the foster care system at just one day old when my mother and I both tested positive for drugs. I was abandoned by my biological mother at the hospital, and due to the hospital’s, my mother’s, and the foster care system’s negligence my birth went undocumented for 18 years. I was a foster child, without access to any other identity.
I never thought I would be strong enough to use the fact that I come from a broken home and a starved childhood to help me understand conflicts and aspects of people that are similar to me. It is because of that strength that I chose to serve DCFYI. This understanding of struggle is the skill I am most proud to put on my résumé, and I am grateful to serve an organization that encourages this skill and allows me to use it to make a difference.
My experience with not being accepted, understood, heard, appreciated or encouraged has been the fuel for my never-ending fight to redefine the odds for youth in care, redefine the term foster child, and no matter what make sure that foster children never feel alone, because someone made sure I didn’t. I had a mentor who not only recommended me for a college scholarship, but took me shopping for my first job interview outfit and drove two hours to pick me up from my college dorm to drive me to every court date to gain a birth certificate and social security number. Since I was nine years old I had a mother who hosted me on weekends and ultimately became my “mom.” She provided me with normalcy with things like birthday parties, Saturdays at amusement parks, and family dinners.
Being employed at DCFYI makes my experiences in foster care “worth it," it allows me to advocate, confront my past, and appreciate my village when I coordinate and plan the event activities we hold at least twice a month to bring everyone together to have fun and get to know each other and build relationships that lead to individual adult-teen matches. Those events are an opportunity to show the world that the term Foster Child is not a curse or a crutch but a platform to create powerful people.