Being in foster care is almost never an ideal situation. Although it may seem like a happy ending may never happen, they do. Having one’s entire life turned upside down due to someone else’s poor choices isn’t fair at all. It’s scary and confusing. But despite such unhappiness, the light can come. The following is one young lady’s account of her placement and journey through the system. Her name is Victoria, and this is her abridged version of the best and worst of times.
“I was young when CPS decided that my home wasn’t safe. It was the middle of the day when the social worker and a police officer came to our house and brought me out. I was really confused because my mom was yelling at the woman. The officer was standing in between them, trying to prevent an even larger scene from taking place. I don’t remember much of what the social worker said, but she told me I was going to stay somewhere else for a little while. While we were driving, I was wondering where we were going and why I couldn’t stay at home. We drove for a long time and then came up into a neighborhood that I did not recognize. When we got out of the car, a woman came outside and introduced herself as “Tina.” Tina and the social worker spoke briefly and then she led me into the house. The house was really clean and a lot more different than mine. Nothing was broken, and all the lights worked. Tina took me down a hallway and into the room where I would spend the next few months. It was the first time I had slept in a bed that was more than a mattress on the floor. I’ll never forget that. Later that evening, I met Tina’s husband, Nathan. He was super friendly and welcoming. Honestly, I didn’t trust him at first because I had never lived around any grown men. But once I saw how genuinely kind he was with Tina, I was more at ease. I was sort of fascinated by the way they interacted with one another. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I was enamored by their happiness, by their relationship. I had never witnessed two grown people acting that way–acting happy.
After that I settled into a fairly simple routine. It was summer, so there was no school. I missed my mom though and wanted to see her. I asked repeatedly to have some form of contact with her, but it was explained that I couldn’t talk to her right now. I would get very angry at this and even tried to run away several times in those first few months. Since I had no idea where I was, more often than not I would end up two blocks over at the park beside a recreational center. One morning I remember that I just sat at a table and cried until Tina drove up. She got out of the car slowly and came to sit next to me at the picnic table. When she asked me if I wanted to talk about what was wrong, it only made me cry harder. I was feeling so many different things, and I couldn’t communicate them in any legible order. She said that when I was ready, we could go back to the house. And then she just sat there. She just sat with me and didn’t say anything.
That summer was hard, but things got steadily better. I started to trust Tina and Nathan. I began to enjoy my time with them. Right after school started again, someone else came to live with us. A girl whose name I don’t remember. She was really quiet and never spoke, not even to me. She communicated by nodding “yes” or shaking her head “no.” She cried a lot at night, and it woke me up three or four times a week. She stayed for about a two months or so before a social worker one day came to take her somewhere else. The ebb and flow of children through the house was fairly steady. Some stayed longer than others. Some spoke and some didn’t. Over time, confusion settled into comfortability. One weekend, Tina and Nathan asked to talk to me, so I went into the kitchen to see what they wanted. The social worker was there also which made me nervous at first. Because of the apparent seriousness of the conversation, my first thought was that she was coming to take me away again.
However, this was not the case.
They explained that it wasn’t going to be safe for me to go back to live with my mom. They told me if I wanted to, I could stay with Tina and Nathan. They offered to bring me into their family permanently, telling me that I could have as much time as I needed to think things over. But I didn’t need more time. It felt right then and there. I blurted out that I wanted to stay with them. After that things kept improving. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Tina and Nathan. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
It is understood that not everyone’s experience with foster care is as positive as the person described above. This writer spoke with several people who had experienced the system and eventually decided that, given the season, a story with a happy ending would be most fitting.