I was taken while I was in school and put in foster care due to severe abuse (physical, mental, verbal, etc.). I always came into school with multiple injuries every day. Cuts, bruises, stitches, swelling, etc. I was always shaking from anxiety, on edge, and reactive. It seemed the school just needed to wait for proof. There was a nice man and woman that came by to visit at the house in the two months before. That was the only time my Grandmother cleaned. I never knew why. They asked me normal questions, but I was never allowed to say anything. I was always told by my bio mom and grandmother “If you ever tell what happens here, you will never see Grandpa again!”
Grandpa was the only solace and safety that I had. The only reprieve I had from randomly getting hit or having something thrown at me. I had to keep that safe, otherwise at times I was afraid I wouldn’t make it. On February 12th, 1990, It was the telephone cord impression wrapped around my neck that did it. Judy, my bio mom tried to strangle me with the telephone cord before I left for school. I forgot what she was angry with me for. Most likely it was for breathing, that was her usual gripe. I kicked her down to the floor and ran to school which was nearby. The Dean saw my neck while I was running to class, tried to call me over, I refused and said that I was running late.
In the first month of being in foster care, I not only suffered additional abuse, but I also learned very quickly that a mixed race, 10 year old at that time had a slim to none chance of getting adopted.
Everyone wants babies. In their mind the child would be easy to mold and easier to integrate into a family. Prospective parents looked at 10 year old foster children as “troubled” and “set in their ways”. In addition, prospective parents usually prefer for the child to “match them”. Less questions, less weird looks in the street, less chance of there being a hassle when they pick the child up from school, or from security when they wander off in the store or an amusement park. There were not as many blended and mixed race families as there are now. Granted it was not the 50’s and 60’s, but there was still so much more progress to be made, and there is still much work to do in 2022.
I was bounced around into 14 foster homes due to my bio Grandmother always causing problems. The foster care agencies would get tired of dealing with her and instead of putting their foot down and saying “Do not call here again, stop making false allegations!” They instead would move me to another agency and thus another home as if to say “ Here, you deal with this.” Then there I was at another stranger’s doorstep with a garbage bag holding my possessions.
Only two of the homes treated me like a human being. Of course, my Grandmother ruined those chances for me too. The rest either ignored me or told me straight to my face that I was just an easy check in the mail (since I was always hyper independent). I was a straight A student, never did hard drugs, never committed a crime, but I was always angry and on edge. I was extremely untrusting because I went through betrayal by so many who were supposed to or said they would care. I walked through life with more questions than answers. “Was it something I did?” “Why is this happening to me?” “Why are there are so many people with bad intentions?” “Are there any good people in this world besides my Grandpa?” So many questions and so many didn’t understand or knew what to tell me to help me. I felt alone and isolated every single day of my life.
When I was 13, I was put in the Independent Living Program through my foster care agency. They told me that it was because I was so advanced and so independent. I think that they knew as well as I did that I had no shot at adoption. The classes took place once per month for 2 hours. I did not find that effective as I was still on my own with so many adult stage tasks and routines. It was like they were just satisfying a requirement to keep higher ups off their back. Many that worked in that foster care agency were apathetic. Some I know couldn’t help it, it was the only way that they found a way to go to work every day and put food on the table. This is still a big problem in the foster care system today. I signed myself out when I was 18 years old. I was tired of the lies and I was tired of being looked at as a check in the mail. I went off to create my own life, but still to this day I am scarred. I will be 43 in November.
If there was something like New Journey when I was in care, I know that I would have done so much better. To be with people who would have understood what I am going through and actually care, can get some one on the road to healing in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. I want to be able to give as many children/ young adults as possible the chance that I never had. I might not be able to change my past, but I can help change the future of others.