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.
As a person who is purposefully childless, it never ceases to amaze me how much the teens in this program have affected me. Over the years, we have had many DCFYI teen participants in our house for small events, holiday meals, hosting or a needed place to stay. We have their pictures and pictures of their children on our refrigerator like I‘ve seen other people do with family members. I have shared experiences with DCFYI teens that we share with others as good times and fond memories, not unlike what you would hear at a family reunion.
We have finished reading Faces of Foster Care, written by DCFYI board member Lisa Aguirre. Lisa's book is a series of profiles of people she interviewed, mostly adults who were in foster care. (The others are adoptive parents or child welfare professionals.)
20 sincere, wholehearted and at times heartbreaking stories are written like mini memoirs and depict various opinions of foster care in the United States.
Fall is a tough time for any parent of a teen (let's face it, all four seasons are tough for most parents of teens! ; ) But for those whose children will head off to college - or a job elsewhere - or the military - August is a rough month. We try to brace ourselves for the onset of loneliness, of missing our 'baby,' of having to live with not knowing if they're home by midnight, by 2am, even by 6am! We have to let go of all of our protective tendencies and inclinations.
This four letter word seems to be what everyone tends to seek but just like the formation of a pearl it's rather difficult and doesn't happen by itself. A pearl forms when an unknown irritant - usually a parasite - works its way into a clam’s mouth. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called 'nacre,' is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed. To get this pearl one must first search the very depths of the sea to retrieve it. And then wrestle ever so hard to get that clam's mouth open.
Diamond recently aged out of foster care and now realizes that even though she is legally an adult she really wants to be adopted.
In her own words, Diamond is "very outgoing, open minded, lovable, and has strong opinions." She loves music, animals, and young children and hopes to find a job in a daycare center.