Foster children come from many walks of life and gain tremendous life experience that enables us to get through most situations with ease and understanding.
Financial stability, belonging and the stigma that comes with being a foster child can easily destroy us when we age out of foster care. For example, missing one bill or having one late payment could leave aged out youth homeless or destitute because of lack of support.
Sadly, the amount of psychotropic medications youth are often prescribed creates a significant barrier to how self-perception and abilities to live independent lives are perceived. The stigma is devastating and one of the most difficult roadblocks to overcome. It’s not because we don’t have to change ourselves. It’s that we have to change that person’s perception of us – and that person could be our boss or supervisor.
In my life I have experienced a lot of stereotyping from people of all walks of life, such as: “Foster youth are entitled” and use the foster care system as an excuse to not move forward in life or to “use it as a crutch.” In reality the system becomes our “parent” so we look to the system to meet our needs. But if this were entirely true, many of us could and would succeed.
Being in the system is an obstacle we have to push out of the way to succeed; it is not a crutch.
Another stereotype I have come across is: “All foster youth have some type of disorder or have been abused.”
Not all of us, including those with a mental health challenge or who are survivors of abuse, should be judged in this way. We need to be supported.
The description for anyone who went through these challenges should instead change to “remarkable.”
The Unsung Heroes
In my eyes, adoptive parents are unsung heroes.
Without these special and compassionate people, a lot of us wouldn’t make it. Adoptive parents save us from certain turmoil and help shoulder the weight of the world so foster youth can once again dream and be able to make their dreams come true.
There is no question that opening home and heart to a child can be one of the most challenging roles that adoptive parents will ever face.
It may also be the most rewarding.
With love, patience and a stable environment, bright and talented children can overcome tremendous odds against them and reach their full potential.
Sadly, for each child who is adopted, there are thousands more who need caring homes and the strong support of adoptive parents. The lucky ones have been and continue to be saved by this special breed that opens their hearts and doors, invites a stranger into their homes and calls them family. That alone is remarkable and makes that caring adult a hero.