Filed under:

Hey there everyone, So pretty much I wrote a paper for a presentation and wanted to share it with you all!

Harry Potter and the foster care system.
By Toby.

From having a dreadful childhood and being raised from “Muggles”, most of us are very familiar with the original storyline of Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone. However, a large amount of people in today’s society, are to a large extent, unfamiliar with the Foster Care system. In my mind, the character Harry Potter was in foster care. The person that I am, I relate to his character very much so.

When I first remember hearing about the book many years ago, it could have been best described like wildfire. Everyone was reading it and talked about it. The book was mentioned in newspapers, television, and mostly talked about in discussions across the United States. So what do you think I did?

Of course! I went to the nearest public library and ordered a copy of this book. After intensely waiting for what seemed forever, but really only a week later, I finally received my very own copy of the book. I immediately opened up the book right there on the spot. Spreading my body onto the living room floor and getting into a comfortable spot, my excitement grew as I opened up the freshly bound book. I flipped to the very first page. From that moment I read through the very first chapter, I couldn’t put the book down. I now understood why everyone said the book was addicting. A good story is always hard to put down.

In my mind, I thought it was amazing how Harry was first introduced. From being put on the doorsteps of his non-magic family as an infant, to growing up with the abusive family. I realized that I connected with this character right off the back. I as well grew up in a not so happy childhood home. I too was physically and more emotionally abused from family, just like Harry himself. As I read deeper and deeper into the book, I realized that Harry is in a way, much like a foster child himself. I connect with that characteristic on a very distinctive level. How so?

If you really think about it, Harry did not live with his birth parents, But with his Aunt and Uncle. More so, this happens to most youth and young adults that are in Foster Care. At a young age, Harry was put into a home that he was not originally from. Just like myself, I too was put into foster care at a young age. I moved from foster care placements, to group homes to different foster care families.

Harry on the other hand was raised by his Aunt and Uncle. In some cases the foster care system places youth and young adults into a Fictive Kin residency. In court terms, Fictive Kin simply means that the court places the foster youth or young adult in to live with some type of family member or friend of the family. But in a lot of cases, teens are not lucky and are forced to live with foster families. Unfortunately, a lot of the times foster youth are not comfortable in the home that they are placed at. Just as I have many times in the past.

More and more as I connected with this book I realized how many characteristics about Harry that I have in myself. To know that his character wanted so much more out of life, to better himself, to have a more planned out future, and a happy life, made me bond with this book even more. I too wanted all of these ideal life traits.

From the moment that Hagrid knocked that big wooden door to the ground, to the moment where he read his very first Hogwarts letter, Harry started a journey that would better himself and his future. This was and fact is one of the most amazing moments of his life. Ideally this moment for Harry, reminds me of my own personal letter. Not a letter from Hogwarts of course, but from Western. The day that I received my letter to Western Michigan University was one of the happiest moments of my life.

As we all recall from the book, Harry was introduced to new things. He was going off to Hogwarts basically alone, he didn't have support from his family. From having his very first Diagon Alley experience, getting his wand, and his very own owl, Harry was introduced to a new world, full of magic and extraordinary things.

I too went off to college without support from family. I do not talk to my family, and have not. Just like Harry explained in his experience going to Hogwarts on his own, he had many, many mixed feelings. Like I did, I too was nervous, scared, happy, excited, and overall very emotional.

However, after arriving to the well-known Platform 9 ¾, Harry was introduced to the very famous Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger. These two very special individuals were to be one of the best friendships that Harry will ever have at Hogwarts. Connecting even more with this story, I too have begun to make friendships that will last a long time, one being most importantly, that of the WMU Colorguard. From the moment where I first auditioned, to our first performance, I seemed to have started not only making many friends, but a family.

Just like Harry and his new found friendships, he too has to go to school. He has professors and homework just like I do here at Western.

We all remember the legendary chapter in the book, where Harry meets Professor Snape, the potions teacher at Hogwarts. In this part of the story, Harry was trying to take notes in class, but to Professor Snape, was thought to have not paying attention. Then thought Harry to be a slacker and supposed that Harry was into himself because of his so called “fame”. But in ‘actual reality’ Harry is just trying to prove to everyone that he is normal. This would explain a lot about the general public and their view on foster youth. Foster Youth are not at fault.

Because that I grew up in foster care, and that today’s society is not familiar with the foster care system, people tend to stereotype and get the wrong impression about foster youth. In today’s society, when most people hear about teens in the foster care system, they tend to identify it as the teenagers fault, or have a tendency to think that the teenager is at wrong. When in actual reality, it’s the complete opposite. The parents are in reality at fault.

As the person that I am, reading about Harry trying to prove he is a normal person, It makes me feel the same way about the way today’s society looks at foster care. I try to prove that just because I was placed into the Foster care system, I am a normal teenager. I love to do normal stuff just like any young adult does on this planet. Foster care, is just a statement, it just meant that I was in an unsafe situation.

As we all recognize the famed authentic lightning bolt shaped scar on Harry’s forehead, most people would know that it was from the familiar Lord Voldemort. One of the 'most feared wizards in the magical world'. In actuality, if you think about it, you will realize that because it is a scar it left not only physical damage, but a lot of emotional damage for Harry and his many years to come growing up.

In real life, this has a massive amount of sentimental value. From my feelings and emotions, to my memories, this is symbolic for my own personal history. A lot of youth in the foster care system face physical and emotional abuse. Physical bruises and scars heal over time, but emotional and mental scars stay for an even longer period of time.

Although Harry goes through his new life at Hogwarts he still has those emotional and physical scars that remind him of his past and his family. To even connect with this story more I have my own “scars”. Mine are that of the emotional side then the physical. In the story Harry comes to find his true friends, and his new family, as well as the school. They help him get through the rough times and provide him with life experiences that are positive and negative. The professors, faculty and the people he looks up to help prepare him for the real world. A lot of foster youth need these supportive adults.

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ is, and will be one of my most enjoyed books that I have ever read. Not only because it is a 'good read', but because overall I connect with this story on such a towering level.

In the beginning of the story we learn about Harry and his upbringing. Quite a bit about his past, but as he goes to Hogwarts we all gain knowledge that he proves to everyone that that he can be a normal teenager, just because he was so called “famous”. He eventually proves everyone wrong. This story shows true resilience. That is one of my goals in life, to make a difference for foster youth in the system.
There is life after foster care, you can do amazing things with your life. Like I have heard and always said:

‘It’s not where you have been, its where you’re going.’
-Tobias Rogan

Thanks for reading!

Aug 3, 2009 By iToby