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A few years ago, I was participating in a workshop and during the 3 days, the coach told me to stop labeling myself as a foster kid.
I told her I would but I didn’t realize how hard this was. It’s been a huge part of my identity. And I’ve been choosing my words very carefully ever since.
But there’s something that has come up that really bother’s me.
Identifying as a foster kid isn’t a bad thing and it’s time that we stop making the kids the bad
I didn’t end up in foster care because I got in trouble with the law or something else morally and unethical displeasing to society.
No, I ended up in foster care because my parents could not be the parents I needed them to be at the time.
At the time of my placement in foster care, I was about 2 years old.
And as I became an adult, studied mental health and earned my degree as a counselor and worked with families at risk, it always bothered me that the kids were made out to be the bad guys.
And I am very cautiously am not trying to blame the parents because they too just could not be the parents they needed to be for their children.
I believe that in each moment, we all are just doing the best we can with what we know. We can’t do more than that or better than that.
It’s that notion of when you are ready, you will receive the information you need to move forward.
There is a tremendous amount of work that I feel needs to be done in how we support children that end up in the system to no faults of their own. And to maintain the stigma that foster kids are bad is not only wrong but does them a disservice.
More often than not, children who are raised within the system feel
And when you place the stigma on them that indicates they’ve done something wrong, you are only fueling all the negative feelings they already believe to be true about themselves.
I no longer work as a therapist or with families at risk, but I plan is to support organizations any which way I can and as an entrepreneur that means financial support but also donating my Rebel Soul Handbooks to organizations that would use them to support their clients.
I also want to be a voice, a voice that knowing placing blame is not going to bring forth change. Compassion, love, and empathy … now that can move things into the direction of fewer kids in foster care or at least appropriate tools and resources to help them maneuver this thing called life. To ensure that when they age out of the system, they have the skills and resources to create a good life for themselves.
It saddens me to know that in some studies only 26% of children that grow up in foster care graduate high-school and that less than half of that go to college. I am not saying that college is the answer for everyone, but I know first hand that I didn’t even think I was smart enough to earn a degree.
And giving the emotions of not feeling worthy, deserving or loved, how can we expect foster kids to want to graduate high-school or even get a degree in something they always dream about doing?
And while I understand why the coach asked me to stop identifying as a foster kid, I don’t know that I can. Because if I deny this part of me, that means I was and am everything other people think about children in the foster care system.
And that just doesn’t feel good to me. I want to see a world where people understand that kids that end up in the system are not bad kids and that they are not the ones to blame for being in the system in the first place.
And I also don’t want to blame the parents and I know a lot of people will say that is exactly who we should blame. But you don’t know what you don’t know and the reality is that sometimes, the parents are doing the best they can with what they know.
None of us are born as bad people (okay there are exceptions to this, I know) but every single person is formed by the values of other people and from there we develop our own personal values. We are formed by our experiences and the knowledge we gain through it all.
I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating: Compassion, Love, and Empathy that is how you and I are going to create change.
So yes, I grew up in Foster Care and I am more than okay with that.