Foster Care Through the Eyes of Youth
May 8, 2014 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Suan Stapatyanon, Ph.D., the program director at Our Small World Foster Family Agency in Orange, CA, an HRC-recognized Leader in Supporting & Serving LGBT Families. This piece features the perspective of M, one of the young people in foster care served by the agency.
On a daily basis the children in foster care and those who care for them face the ups and downs of being a part of the “system” and the impacts of abuse, neglect, and other trauma that brought them there. But ask any child who has lived in a loving, supportive and stable foster home and s/he will tell you how the experience has positively changed his/her outlook and life. Ask any foster parent who has made a difference and s/he will tell you that the child has made a difference in the foster parent’s life.
To celebrate May’s National Foster Care Month, one of our teens shares the story of how her foster mother has changed her life. Her words express how being and belonging in a loving and stable environment can make a significant impact. Her experience also confirms that family is defined by those who love and support us, and not by society’s definition.
A World United By Our Hearts Not By Society
Written by M, age 17
We are surrounded by people who make fast judgments and criticism towards LGBT people. Some people don’t think they should be foster parents. People don’t take the chance to get to know someone--how they are and why they are the way they are. My life took a big twist when coming into foster care with a lesbian foster parent. Never had I imagined everything I would experience coming here… everything I thought I could only dream was no longer a dream but reality.
I came into foster care into my first home 2009. I moved to a second foster home in 2011. I was in ninth grade and I was failing school. I didn’t know it was important to get good grades because I had never learned the value of it. Another year had gone by and I had four F’s and the rest D’s in school.
So again I moved to a new home. She was a lesbian. I had never lived in an LGBT home, but that didn’t bother me. She seemed nice so I decided to give her a chance. I went to visit her home to see how it would be and I loved it; I wanted to move in right away. She only had one other foster girl and she told me that everyone deserves their own space. She told me she wanted to help us do well in life. I had my own room and I was able to decorate it however I wanted.
My new foster parent had seen my bad grades and pushed me to raise them up. Slowly but surely I started to receive C’ and B’s…the best grades I had ever earned.
Soon she started to show me how to do chores and make my own food. I learned how to live with a family rather than in a foster home. She taught me how we had to be grateful for everything we have. We did have some challenges because I was not good with adjusting so quickly; sometimes I wanted it to go my way and she wanted her way. She taught me that having communication and meeting half way could make things better. She didn’t treat me like a foster kid she treated me like family… as her own daughter.
I am now a senior in high school and still living with my foster parent. She has changed my life. I have been on Honor Roll for each quarter with a 3.0 and higher. Never had I thought I would get such good grades. As a result she rewarded me with a new puppy, and taught me how to be responsible in taking care of it.
Now we go on road trips, she helps me in school, she gives me a structured family life, and my life has improved ten times better than I would have ever thought. She taught me how to be strong emotionally, and how to stand up for what I believe in and help those in need.
This is why I believe we should get to know everyone before we judge them. You never know how that person is until you get to know them. A person being LGBT doesn’t make them any different from us, and doesn’t make them any different from any other parents. Having an LGBT parent has made my life so much better I wish I could have met her sooner.
This May, HRC Is proud to celebrate National Foster Care Month by honoring the leaders at child welfare agencies that are committed to improving outcomes for LGBTQ youth, the LGBTQ foster youth themselves, and the foster families supporting them. Stay tuned to HRC blog throughout the month for more foster care stories.
July 30, 2014