Maintaining Connections…Perspectives from Youth in Foster Care
In the last issue of Fostering Perspectives we asked young people in foster care “Who has tried to help you stay connected to your parents and other family members while you’ve been in foster care? What have they done that’s been helpful? What has been less helpful?“ Here’s what they had to say.
* * * * *
by Aaron, age 13
When I came into care my mind ran away with me. I thought of stories I had heard from foster kids. First I want to say I was separated from my twin sister. My foster parents only accepted boys. This was very disappointing that DSS couldn’t keep us together. There wasn’t availability for both of us that day, but they promised to keep working on it. Well, my foster parents had a change of heart overnight. The very next day after school my sister came with me. I was reconnected!
I thank God that my foster parents never say no when I ask to call my mother. They really show me (and my twin sister) love and respect. I always thought foster care meant never seeing your mother again. Not so! My foster parents informed us that this was their first year fostering and that we would work together at all things. I thank God he placed us in a Christian home and I can have a peace of mind when I lay down at bedtime. Also, our social worker has always followed through with everything, including our visits with our mother. Our foster parents’ church is right by our great grandmother’s facility and they allow us to visit her often. My foster parents also agreed for me to have my dog. I was so relieved. I walk my dog and talk to her as if she knows what I am saying.
Helpful experiences have been learning how to do things for myself. I can make my own bed and wash my own clothes. I said to myself, “Why do I have to do this? I never had to do it before!” But I like learning how to take control of my own personal stuff.
I can’t think of anything less helpful than I need to learn how to cook but the kitchen is off limits for the kids when it comes to cooking. My foster parents are overprotective at times. But I see and know they are really trying and I will have patience to wait for what’s best for me and my twin sister that I love so much.
Aaron received $100 for winning first prize in the writing contest.
* * * * *
by Kayla, age 11
My social worker has always helped me stay in touch with my mama by doing lots of visits with her and bringing cards and gifts to me. And my social worker was helpful by putting me in a wonderful place–I love it so much.
My foster mom and my foster dad have been helpful by taking me on visits and bringing gifts and cards for my mama and sending pictures of me and my brother to her. My foster mom also made a photo book for my mom.
It would have been more helpful if I got to see my brothers at the same time, and more often.
Kayla received $50 for winning second prize in the writing contest.
* * * * *
Third Place (tie)
by Dawn, age 17
It has been helpful when social workers set up meetings with my parents and family members and my adoptive parents agree with it. What has been less helpful is when my parents or family members don’t have time for these meetings. But I am so thankful for my adoptive parents and social workers’ support, time, and help.
by Dakota, age 12
My foster mom and my biological brother’s foster parents always let us spend quality, brother-to-brother bonding time. They let us see our other biological family members as well. They have done lots of things that have been helpful, such as giving us family time and letting us communicate over the phone.
I wish they could let us bond a whole lot more. But overall I have to say that my foster mom and my brother’s foster parents play a very important role in our lives.
Dawn and Dakota each received $25 for winning third prize in the writing contest.
* * * * *
Who Helps You Stay Connected?
Many people have tried to help keep me with my family. Social workers, my foster family, even distant relatives! They offered my mom a job to support herself, a home, and food stamps. When she abused those or didn’t accept them, they offered her rehab to stop her drug addiction. They really dedicated themselves for my well-being, and my mom’s. Even when things were rough, they always saw a brighter side.
One bad thing was that they kept things from me, like my mom’s current health and whatnot. It caused me stress and anxiety since I always knew those things growing up. I would have attacks and become depressed. After my foster family adopted me, social services were still committed and still are. Without them, I wouldn’t be as successful or even alive! — Hayley, age 14
My foster parents have helped me stay connected with my family. I stay with my grandma sometimes, and sometimes she babysits us. I stay connected with my mom by texting her because she stays in Texas. I also stay connected with my brother. I text him, too. I don’t like it when they ask me if I’m gonna go stay with my mom when I grow up. — Anayah, age 14
Grannie keep me connected with my grandma and my brother and sister. I know what they look like. I thank them a lot for letting me see my relatives. — Byanca, age 9
My foster parents have kept me connected with my mom. They take me to see my mom, they let my mom call me, and my mom buys me stuff. I know who my mom is and what she looks like. I look like my mom a lot. . . . I [also] get to see my cousins and my dad. — Caroline, age 8
When Youth Get in Trouble with the Law
by Jasmine, age 12
Sometimes youth in foster care get into trouble with the law. When this happens foster parents should help them understand why it was wrong and how it could affect them. Explain how this certain thing could get them into trouble or even lead to jail or probation. Tell that child that if someone is putting pressure on them (to do bad things), they need to tell someone. That way it will keep them out of trouble. People make mistakes. Sometimes they learn from their mistakes. Tell them, “Don’t feel like you can’t talk to someone about how you feel, and what is on your mind, or how and what is making you feel that way you feel.”
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your foster parent or social worker, talk to someone that you can relate to, who is easier to talk to. Never hold powerful feelings in. And remember, don’t ever let anyone pressure you into feeling or doing what is bad for you.
Jasmine received $20 for having her work published in Fostering Perspectives.
Fostering Perspectives’ Next Writing Contest
First Prize: $100 • Second Prize: $50 • Third Prize: $25
If you are under 18 and are or have been in foster care, please send us a letter or short essay in response to the following:
Deadline: February 2, 2016
Anyone under 21 who is or has been in foster care or a group home can enter. E-mail your submission to [email protected] or send your entry via U.S. Mail to:
John McMahon, Editor
Include your name, age, address, and phone number. In addition to receiving the awards specified above, winners will have their work published in the next issue of Fostering Perspectives. Runners-up may also have their work published, for which they may also receive a cash award.
|We’re Also Seeking Artwork and Other Writing from Children and Teens in Foster Care
Submissions can be on any theme. Submission requirements described above apply. If sent via U.S. Mail, artwork should be mailed flat (unfolded) on white, unlined paper.