Have you ever heard of the saying, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you?” Well, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you find yourself in an abusive situation or any situation that violates your personal space, seek shelter and assistance. As a former foster child, resources were not made available to me nor did I know they existed. What you don’t know, CAN hurt you! If you live in the United States, there are 24 hour shelters, counselors, free food, medical assistance, and more. If you live in a country outside of the United States, contact your local law enforcement agency or human services department. Your life has value and you have rights! Don’t spend one more day giving anyone power to take something that doesn’t belong to them. Take your life back! Embrace hope and peace of mind!
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; harsh realities spilled into my journals. I was so thankful when my biological mother petitioned the court to regain custody of me and my siblings. 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 to 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. There was the challenge to adapt to new surroundings, to bond with new parents and siblings, to adjust to new school settings, to fit in, have 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. There was a hunger and thirst for love, a longing to be accepted, and a 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 illustrates the life of a foster child and youth-in-crisis, its poetry and prose speaks to the silence of loss and gives voice to unspoken realities that foster children may face when voice becomes lost among political processes. To bring awareness to foster care experiences of those currently in foster care and those who are 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 to cultivate sustainable solutions. Today, I give back by encouraging others to overcome trauma and fulfill their purpose; for we are no longer caterpillars trapped within a cocoon. We are butterflies!