Often, foster care is mentioned in the news and in books as a problem. Foster care needs to be solved, abolished, or abandoned for the betterment of youth engaged in child welfare services. It is a faulty system that merely perpetuates negative behaviors and life outcomes.
However, this is not how I know foster care. Foster care saved my life. With all of the faults I found with the system, I also found my rugged path to success, and a deeper appreciation for life.
Yes, every system implemented and constructed by people can be improved. Especially over time, as time progresses, needs change and we need to respond to those needs. It is also crucial to admit when needs weren’t meant and they need to be corrected. Yet, foster care served its purpose for me. It removed me from a corrosive home environment that never contributed anything to my personal self-worth. Knowing that certain faults with foster care were with a system, and not my parents or me, gave me hope that there could be improvement. In that system, I also experienced kindness that was often denied by my biological family. Foster care had benefits that I could not get from anywhere or anyone else.
As a teenager, I was challenged in ways that shook my composure. I responded to challenges that made people question if I would ever have the ability to be a stable person. As an adult, I found ways to turn my past experiences into understanding and sincere gratitude for the good that life has to offer. Foster care taught me that although the course to success can be riddled with challenges, it is your response to those challenges, and how you use your gained knowledge, that defines you.
Foster care didn’t fail me, it showed me what it is live.