One of my dearest friends from high school was in foster care. Fortunately, she was able to stay with family members. Unfortunately, she was separated from her younger siblings. This was particularly devastating for her because she was essentially the “mother” to her younger brother and sisters. Although I wasn’t familiar with the term “parentification” back then, it fit my friend to a T!
My friend never hid the fact that she was in foster care from me because it was just a part of who she was. She has always been open about things and as I learned more about her home life I realized how relatively sheltered I was. After all, I’ve never been separated from my siblings, I’ve never had a caseworker from the state assigned to me, I’ve never had a parent deemed by a court of law to be “incapable of parenting” and I’ve certainly never had a parent in prison. Considering everything my friend had been through, she turned out REMARKABLY well. She had some downright terrifying things happen in her past, and although they were a crucial part of my friend’s life, she didn’t let those experiences define her.
Most of what I write on this blog is about my experiences and perspective as an adoptive and foster mother- because that’s what I know. I obviously don’t know what it’s like to be in foster care, but I think it’s beneficial for me (and all of us) to learn from others who have been in that situation. Having said that, here are a couple of links to a blog I recently discovered written by a former foster child:
Imafoster wrote about the stigma attached to being a foster child here, and about learning from the past, without dwelling on it, here.
I was also pleased to come across some success stories of former foster children going on to attend and graduate from college thanks to a charitable organization called Foster Care to Success, which was started by a foster care alumni with the purpose of mentoring foster children and providing scholarships and grants making it possible for them to start (and finish) their higher education. Very praiseworthy.
Like my high school friend, foster children may come from rough backgrounds, but that doesn’t have to define who they are. As the Soothsayer told Po in Kung Fu Panda II (a great adoption-themed movie, BTW):
“Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are, it is the rest of your story, who you choose to be . . . So who are you, Panda?"