As a child growing up in a broken home, it was extremely hard for me to create and hold onto healthy relationships. Bouncing from parent to parent and town to town made it very difficult to stay in touch with any of the friends that I had in school or any of the families neighboring me. Until I entered foster when I was age 12 I had no idea what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like. I was kidnapped from my mom by my dad at the age of five and was released at the age of seven. In those two years I was put through hell. In my memory of this period, my dad tortured me mentally, physically and emotionally by not allowing me to eat, sleep or use the bathroom. If I was allowed to sleep, I slept on a filthy couch where the dog slept. The "room" they dead bolted me into was a box-filled storage space that had a pair of sliding doors connecting the room next to it. My dad's girlfriend had drilled holes in the doors so she could spy on me making sure that I did not sit or lay on the floor.
After two years of the torture my dad finally returned me to my mom. When I arrived at my mom's house she was so excited to see me that she would not let me out of her arms. I was just as excited to see her because I was finally away from the abuse; but after just a few good years with my mom, the abuse started again. She became an alcoholic and a prostitute. She would bring home random men on a nightly basis who would verbally abuse me. When she got drunk she would get mad at me and begin throwing objects such as glass cups, forks, knives and anything else she could get her hands on. Luckily I was able to dodge the objects, but at the age of eleven it was scary. She also had a bad habit of driving under the influence, which caused us to get into multiple car accidents. Due to my mom's drinking problem she would spend her entire paycheck on alcohol that resulted in us being evicted from our homes and my mom losing her jobs. After losing our last house we moved in with one of my sisters and on my birthday my mom found a trucker and left for California.
Because of the abuse I was put through as a child I was not able to get close to anyone when I entered foster care. I had a lot of issues when it came to trusting anyone that I met in my life and it was especially hard for me to trust men since all I went through with my dad was two years of bad experiences.
I remember a conversation that I had with my foster mom when I entered the home at age 12 and it involved my education. She was well aware of how unstable my educational situation was growing up and she assured me, unless I chose differently, that I would stay in the same high school all four years. I was very excited to hear of this because I had a hard time maintaining relationships because I moved and switched schools so much. But as time went on and my foster mom continuously introduced me to her friends and family I began trusting people again and was able to feel that I wasn't in danger of losing everything. I never had the ideal family to look up to; simply meaning father, mother and some kids. That all changed when my foster mom had introduced me to one of her friend's son when I was about 12. Our relationship grew quickly since we were on the same cycling team and since our parents were good friends. We soon became inseparable and I would spend quite a bit of time at each others houses. This is where I began noticing what an ideal family was supposed to look like. I looked up to my best friend's dad as the man I should role model. My foster mom always reminded me of this as well. Having that role model really helped me mature into the man I am today.
As mentioned before, until I entered foster care I had no idea what a real family was supposed to look like. Entering foster care required me to create my own family. When people that weren't aware of my situation would ask about my parents it was difficult for me to disclose that I only had a mother. They would then express their curiosity and ask the status of my father and I would then discuss my situation as a foster youth. Creating my family within foster care was surprisingly easy. I quickly became accepting of my situation realizing that where I was in life was where I fit best. I was happy, loved and for once in my life, stable. This was only possible with the support and encouragement that I consistently received from my newfound family. To this day I consider my foster mom as my mom and my best friend's family has supported me as if I were one of their own. Because of this support it has shaped the values and morals and has heightened my sense of maturity shaping me into the man I am today.
FosterClub All-Star Jeremy, age 21, spent 5 years in Colorado's foster care system. With foster care being new to both Jeremy and his foster mom, they met the challenge together. He is currently a senior at the University of Northern Colorado majoring in communication and enjoys spending time with his dog and in the company of friends in his free time. Jeremy spent last summer participating in FosterClub's All-Star internship, where he worked to promote awareness, advocate, and provide motivation to his younger peers still coming through the foster care system. FosterClub is the national network for young people in foster care. Read more about Jeremy and other young leaders of FosterClub at www.fosterclub.com.