Georgette Todd, author of “Foster Girl, A Memoir” wrote in an article published by The Chronicle of Social Change about times in her life that were changed because of what happened to her while she was in foster care. We can take note from these moments and apply them to ourselves, whether we’re foster, adoptive, or biological parents. Todd states, “…there were times when people made a significant difference in a positive way…those moments became memories that helped me cope in the midst of the worst years of my life.” These were the 3 moments that changed her life.
The first moment came when Todd was 14 years old, crying in a courthouse because she might be separated from her sister. Todd was ignored by all lawyers and reporters until a probation officer asked Todd what was wrong. Todd plead her case of how defenseless she felt against her social workers’ decision to separate Todd from her sister. The officer suggested she write a letter explaining her side of the story, and that is exactly what Todd did. Todd was empowered because someone took the time to stop and help. After she had handed her letter over, the judge launched an investigation and concluded that separation was unwarranted.
Fifteen years old now, slouching in a classroom and hating the world until Todd’s head teacher Mr. Severson asked about her interests. Todd’s response, “Sleeping. Dying. That’s about it!” Severson was persistent and finally got a real answer from Todd; she told him she enjoyed writing. Todd was assigned to write for the school newspaper, The Polinsky Scoop, and was given books on writing. Todd’s angst was given a healthy outlet, but this outlet served more than the purpose of distracting her. It helped her to become productive and contribute to something larger. This skill developed over time and she is now a published author.
At 16, Todd was in her first (and last) fight in foster care. She was able to avoid the taunts of her more provoking peers until her sister was picked on and Todd defended her. Todd was devastated that she had a “record” and now fit into the stereotype of a typical foster child despite her successes in school and group homes, along with her academic achievements. She was visited later that day by an Independent Living Skills Program (ISLP) worker. He came to visit everyone and recruit, but Todd was so distant and distracted that the worker asked what was wrong. Todd once again shared her side of the story. The worker responded by telling her not to allow herself to be defined by one mistake, “Rewrite, edit your life, right now!” he said.
Lend an ear, give an opportunity, and know you can always have a fresh start. These are the 3 moments that led Georgette Todd to become a success despite her rough start in life.