At the age of four, I was placed in foster care. There were four homes in total, yet only the last two, provided positive influence in my life. However, because of former abuse and pain, I began to journal.  Unfortunately, harsh realities spilled into my journals. I was so thankful when my biological mother petitioned the court to regain custody of my siblings and I.  So, when she passed away when I was only 13 years of age, I was devastated. To make matters worse, I found myself in the foster care system yet again. With consideration of the issues and challenges leading to foster care placement, one thing is for certain, a mother’s love is irreplaceable.

In retrospect, I can say that each foster home presented a new set of challenges with some traumatic experiences that no child should ever have to face. With this, there were also challenges that didn’t make it any easier.  For example, the challenge to adapt to new surroundings, to bond with new parents and siblings, to adjust to new school settings, to fit in, to find purpose, and more.

Undoubtedly, there was frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety and while the foster care system’s primary goal seemed to ensure that financial needs and education were met, the psychological aspect of learning to adjust and overcome trauma, resulted in withdrawal.

I became as the caterpillar, trapped within a cocoon.  Love and a longing to be accepted were desperately sought after; likewise, was the desire to be understood. Who nourishes the soul, the spirit, and the mind? Who holds the hand of the little girl and tells her, she’s going to be okay?  I am so thankful to have had a foster mother that supported emotional development and overall wholeness.

While my journal illustrated the life of a foster child and youth-in-crisis, its poetry and prose spoke to the silence of loss and gave voice to unspoken realities that foster children may face when voice became lost among political processes. To bring awareness to the foster care experience for those currently in foster care and those aging out, I published the journal as “Black Butterfly: The Journey – The Victory.”

As a former foster child, it is my belief that the overall plan for emotional health should incorporate supports that positively influence social and emotional development; this includes, the team and wrap-around concepts, and sustainable solutions. Today, I give back by encouraging others to overcome trauma and fulfill their purpose.  To paraphrase, no one desires to be a caterpillar trapped within a cocoon. When a butterfly spreads its wings, only then will we see its true beauty and strength!