I remember abruptly waking up to the sound of glass shattering and my baby sister screaming. I tried to look around in the darkness to figure out what was going on, but couldn’t tell. My mother grabbed me and tried to hide me behind a rocking chair in the room. All of a sudden the room got bright and my mother froze. I remember looking through my mother’s legs to see what was going on and saw three men standing in the doorway. My mother asked what they were doing in our home and what they wanted, but they weren’t there to talk. One of the men pulled me from my mother and held me down as the other two men started beating my mom. After the man who was holding me let me go I immediately ran to my mother’s side. The man stood over me and laughed a laugh that I will never forget before hitting me as well. Then the men just turned around and walked out of the room, one man stopping in front of my sister’s crib to spit on her.
I don’t remember much of anything else about that night. The next day I woke up in a hospital bed with an IV in my arm screaming for my mother and freaking out because I didn’t know how I got there. The nurse came into my room and tried to calm me down but all I kept saying was “Where is my Mommy?” I will never forget the words the nurse said to me, “You can see her as soon as she gets out of surgery.” I was only three years old at this time and had no clue what surgery was. I remember the first time I was allowed to see my mother, I was so happy, until I actually saw her. I walked into the room and didn’t recognize her and started crying and yelling “That’s not my Mommy! Where’s my Mommy?” The nurse assured me that it was indeed my mother, but I kept refusing. The person I was looking at looked nothing like my mother; this person’s face was swollen and black and blue and this person had casts on both legs. It took about two weeks for me to realize that it was her.
During the next two weeks my sister and I stayed with my mother’s best friend. When my mother was released from the hospital she got my sister and I back from her friend and she took us to a battered woman’s shelter. We lived there for a while until my mom got back on her feet and found a new apartment. By this time I was probably almost five years-old and my sister about two.
My mother was still dealing with everything that had happened to my family and decided that at five years old I was old enough to care for myself and my baby sister. She began drinking. For the next ten years of my life my mother drank heavily, eventually getting to the point where she couldn’t function unless she was drunk. During these ten years I was the parent in the household; I cooked, cleaned and looked after my sister. My mother’s best friend’s son helped me do the things I couldn’t. By the time I was fifteen my mother’s drinking had gotten out of hand. She drove drunk all the time and had been in multiple hit and runs. Everyone realized it, including my mother.
My mother called the Department of Children and Families to come and get me, which meant I was entering foster care. My sister’s father came and got her and then my mother entered a rehab facility. She has been sober for three years at the end of August.
Despite all the hardships I’ve faced and overcome: being thrown into adulthood at such a young age, having to be a parent to my sister, overcoming my past and emotionally dealing with it all, I have come out with a positive perspective on my life. To me resiliency is having the strength to overcome obstacles and challenges that get in the way of a person being successful. One of the only reasons that I was able to continuously be resilient at such a young age was because whenever I looked around me, no matter what else was going on, all I saw was my baby sister. One of the things she did when I looked at her was to smile with such a cute baby smile that always made my heart tingle. Her smile made me fight harder for her to make sure she always had everything she needed. I thought that there was no one else who could or would take care of her, and was too young to know what DCF was at the time. Just because my mother had her issues didn’t mean that my innocent baby sister should have had to suffer, so I made sure she didn’t. I have had resilience throughout my life with all of the struggles and challenges that I have faced and will have resilience when dealing with future struggles or challenges. In my future resiliency will be my ability to push myself harder and further, because I want to ensure that I will be in a better place than my mother. After seeing all that she has been through pushes me to do better for myself.
-- FosterClub All-Star Heather Marone, although Heather now lives independently, she has been in the foster care system for five years and has lived in five different placements. Heather is currently working as a certified EMT-B and attending classes to obtain her EMT-I certification. She also plans to obtain her BSW. Her future career goal is to work on Capital Hill to reform the foster care system. Heather is a member of her local youth advisory board and the New England Youth Coalition. Heather is a Starbucks addict, flip flop fanatic, music fiend… and a foster kid.