Category Archives: Foster

Broken

system failure

I haven’t posted in a few months and have spent my energy recovering after mono and strep.  I am back to work and have built up enough stamina to do one or two activities after I get home.  I take care of the fur and feather needs, my own nutrition and then try to lay some more flooring.  I usually manage two or three rows of boards before something starts to ache or I just run out of energy. I’m tackling 1,300 sq. ft. of flooring one row at a time! It will get done just not fast!  I have not planted a single vegetable in the garden either.

While my body may be slightly worn down, my heart is absolutely broken.  I cannot help someone who does not see the problem and we all know that “fixing” someone else’s problems is at best hypocritical and condescending and is not healthy behavior.  I do not want the responsibility for controlling or making someone else’s choices.  That being said, I cannot keep the tears from falling.

I have met a young mother of three, I will name her Phoenix here.  Phoenix comes from the most heartbreaking childhood that was splashed across inter-national media when the details became known.  Both of her biological parents are now in jail, her mother for at least 15 years and her father on consecutive life sentences.  I am grateful they are out of their now adult children’s lives but the terror and havoc they wrecked still continues as it is ingrained into their very DNA after so many years of continual abuse.  Because all of the victims involved are “aged out” and poor, they have exhausted all social services has to offer.

The father of Phoenix’s three children also comes from an extremely dysfunctional home that barely borders on legal behavior.  Phoenix looks to me as a mom figure because we are both domestic violence survivors.  I have made my own personal success my revenge and for years my mantra was “living well is the best revenge”.  I caught on early in my recovery days that getting even or snarky would only further hurt me and not the person I wanted to hurt.  I let it go, it was squealing like a piglet when I let go, but I was able to do it.

Phoenix has been to counseling, she has overcome so much.  But, this family is trapped in an economic cycle of poverty.  It is like trying to scale the wall of the Grand Canyon without climbing gear.  She doesn’t even know she can climb much less what a carabiner, harness, belay or an ascender is.  Telling her she can climb makes no impact on her.  Opportunities have presented themselves to her in the last few weeks but she does not take advantage of them.  Phoenix professes she is not afraid of the opportunities, just not interested.  She does not see a better way of life for herself and her family.

You have heard of the Stockholm Syndrome where the captive begins to love the captor.  Similarly, Phoenix is trapped in extreme poverty and poor living conditions because she cannot see the opportunities or where it will take her.  Where she is at now is better than before.  She passes on opportunities because she cannot see how they will benefit her future and presents indifference to the world.  It is possible that she just does not believe she could be successful and it may even be mixed up with some survivor guilt.  It would take a full time team of psychologists to unravel this depth of damage.

At times like this, I truly miss my beloved.  He understood this so well.  He came from this type of horror but moved past it.  He loved me in spite of my own past. He would know what to say to comfort as well as to motivate someone to invest in themselves.  He could convince people into believing in themselves because he could share his own story in a way that gave them hope.

Please pray for me as I make myself available to Phoenix when and if she ever decides to take the next step.  Please pray for Phoenix, her partner and their three children.  Pray that I will remember to love her in a healthy way in the hope that she will someday see better choices and opportunities.

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Grief, Life Lessons

Foster State of Mind – Looking for Aged Out Foster Children

This week I am tutoring a former foster child.  She is an adult with children of her own.  Her education is more like a collander with holes in it.  I so very proud of her, when she graduated from high school and aged out of the foster system, her education was more like swiss cheese.  Lots of big holes…

Why the holes you might ask?  Think about it, when you have to go to court, you miss a day of class, maybe two.  When you are moved from one foster home to another, you might miss a week of class.  Then there is the foster home that really doesn’t care if you make it to school on time, hey you got there right?  Foster kids have many more absences that children from stable two parent homes.  Two parent homes may not be perfect but to a foster child, they look pretty darn perfect to them.  The very concept of unconditional love is not something they find growing up unless they are very lucky.  Yes it may be a sterotype and I actually do know someone who grew up in two different foster homes and excelled and felt loved at both homes.  He is the exception.

Are you an adult and/or a former/current foster child?  Tell me what fell through your (or someone you know) holes, what you wish you knew but didn’t.  For my current friend, she wishes someone had clued her in about the entire banking system.  She never had a bank account until her employer required her to have one to direct deposit her paycheck.

Please send me your ideas, simple/direct answers or longer ones, anything is welcome.

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Filed under Foster, Writing

Foster: to help something grow or develop, to nuture

I never seem to be able to understand the cruelty of man, nor do I really want to. For in that understanding, it would forever change me. My beloved saw such cruelty as a child until he reached his majority. It made him not a cruel, but a kind man. He taught me the value of mercy, not getting what you deserve. I struggle with extending mercy where it is not deserved. I cannot save every child, just the ones brought into my life by plan or circumstance.

This weekend one that “got away” returned. I will call her Grace, she is graceful and in spite of all that has happened to her, kind and tenderhearted and more than a little bit gullible. I worked with her as a young girl but, she had so many years of damage. She had been in the foster system for years due to serious abuse and had several siblings. Her little sister was kept with her. The foster parents were train wrecks. (Thank you to the good ones out there!) They could pass a home inspection; answer all the test questions and looked good on paper. The constant verbal abuse and the difference made between the “good” biological children and the two girls was devastating. Would you be surprised to learn that both girls made bad life choices and have trouble with relationships? The little sister is strung out on drugs and bad relationships. Grace hit relationship bottom after three children and their parental abduction by the father. Grace is working with the police to find her children but decided to travel three states to come “home” to the last place she felt truly loved and accepted. I am so glad she did. She had one or two friends in town, my adult daughter and me. She remembered the kindness here and returned to us. I am a flawed person and to quote Patsy Clairmont, “God Uses Cracked Pots”! I hope we can make a difference for this one who needs to be loved on. I pray that God covers my mistakes with grace and mercy so we can find a way to help this beautiful woman to be happy.

Grace is actually the child who sparked a writing project of mine I’m passionate about. A guide for young adults who are about to or have “aged out” of the foster system. There is so much that they miss out on and don’t know. Their time was spent worrying about safety, where they would sleep, what they would eat, attending hearings or court sessions. They didn’t learn the how-to’s that you would expect them to know. Grace learned how to properly fit a bra at age 24, after three children, while we were shopping last night. I looked at her feet and realized, another day, too much for today. She was overwhelmed.

I hope this post travels far and you can comment on what basic things you wish you had been taught, even if you were never in the foster system. My beloved encouraged me to write this because he was raised in extreme poverty and saw many similarities in missed education and training as he tried to figure out what was normal and what he needed to know to be successful.

I would love to consider your comments to add to my guide: shopping, economics, personal hygiene, balancing a checkbook, food preparation, clothing, relationships, etc. Sometimes it is the little details that can derail you in life and keep the better opportunities away. Many foster children do not even realize they have missed the opportunities because they don’t know and there is no one to tell them. Your experiences could help someone. Thanks!

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Writing