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    In my childhood and early adolescence I had never had a supportive person that gave me hope or encouragement. Throughout my life I had heard horror stories of foster care. It was something I feared more than the situation I was in with my own family. The stigma of foster care scared me away from trying to reach safety. However, when I was 15, I decided it was time to get help. This ended up with me being placed into care with my siblings.

    We were placed was with a family who already had one child. Our placement was supposed to be for three days, but my stay there would end up lasting three years. I hadn’t realized the bond that we created, my foster parents and I. I could tell their hearts were filled with nothing but good intentions. I felt their love every day. There were difficult days when I didn’t feel like interacting, but they respectfully gave me space.

    For a long time I felt like a mistake and unworthy of love. I could feel that they wanted to give me more love than I was ready for, but living with them was the first time I felt needed and wanted. I felt valued as an individual. They let me talk to them when I needed them. They hugged me when I wanted it. They made me feel safe and heard. I have never met two people so dedicated to love. They adopted me after two and a half years together. I am still do thankful for the permanence they gave me physically but also emotionally. Sometimes in care that aspect of permanence can be overlooked, but I know their support meant more to me than anything else.

    During that time I pushed away from biological family and hoped to find a new life among people that I felt I could trust. I did feel sadness and guilt from not building a relationship with my family. Within the last two years I have grown closer to them and made the decision to move in with my mom. I realize that many people wouldn’t give up the opportunities that I “gave up” when I moved in with her. She was gone from my life for 11 years and every day I missed her. Though she wasn’t permanent in my life, she was a part of my heart and who I am.

    I choose to make my own decisions every day, but I’m so grateful that I have four parents in my life that I know love and care about me. I know that regardless of what happens, they want me; they chose me.

    Many youth may live their lives without the support that I have, but that doesn’t have to be true for everyone. I want more foster parents to be like the ones I was given. I want youth to know they are loved and needed. It’s my hope that the world will recognize the value in supportive relationships. Youth in foster care need permanence, even if they don’t realize it immediately. My permanence was found in the people who entered my life while in foster care. I hope that whatever your role is, that you try to make change.

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Sep 10, 2018 By ShelliG99