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.

Read more about resilience...

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powerful story

Herbie53's picture

Heather, thank you for sharing your story! Please keep sharing your story; it really does make a difference!! Your story is very powerful and can help give others the strength they need.
Congrats on getting your EMT certifications!!

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Wow...heather your story

Anonymous's picture

Wow...heather your story really touch my heart. Being in foster care is hard I should know because I have Been in foster care sine I was 11 years old I am now 15 and still in care and my story is like you, what I'm just saying is your has gave me HOPE!! And I think you for sharing your story with me!

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Thank you. You are the

Anonymous's picture

Thank you. You are the reason why I still have hope for the youth of today.

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thank you so much for all of

heather09's picture

thank you so much for all of your comments, i am glad that i can be an inspiration to other young people. :)

Heather Marone
2009 Connecticut FosterClub All-Star
2011 FosterClub Level 2 Intern

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Brina1970 This is such

Brina1970's picture

Brina1970
This is such a sad story. Heather never got the chance to be a child herself. It reminds me of my little girls. The oldest one is only five, but she still remembers her past. She still tries to look out for her little sister. Before they came to me they spent time locked away. Altough they are very young I still see the effects of what they went through. I pray that they forget their dark past and begin to feel the security that all children should have.

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It always saddens me to read

Anonymous's picture

It always saddens me to read stories such as your. I am truly amazed at your strength, and hope all your dreams come true for a happy life.

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Wow this story is so sad and

Anonymous's picture

Wow this story is so sad and touching

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awwww... how sweet keep ur

Anonymous's picture

awwww... how sweet keep ur head up and know that when u want to put it down, someone will always love u, and that person is ur sister and always god!!!

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You are a great sister.It

Anonymous's picture

You are a great sister.It is wonderful how you took care of you're little sister and did everthing you could to make her life better. God bless you!

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I wonder why those people

Anonymous's picture

I wonder why those people attacked her mother, but at the same time, it's amazing to know that she is growing strong!

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Great story and you are a

Anonymous's picture

Great story and you are a great inspiration..

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Thank you for the inspiring

mini0316's picture

Thank you for the inspiring story,
I have never had to care for my sister because she is 7 years older than me but she had the same situation she had to look out for me for the 2 years we were in care together. I am not back in care 15 years later and have had to fend for myself for the last 4 years and i know how you feel that you have to fend for yourself. Your story is truly inspiring and keep it up

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Wow, what a story, what an

Anonymous's picture

Wow, what a story, what an amazing strong girl! You were extremely brave and I am proud of you for pushing yourself and believing in yourself! You have such an incredible story that can impact so many peoples lives. Thanks for sharing

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I am so proud of you.

Anonymous's picture

I am so proud of you. Please keep us updated on your journey through life so we can be proud of you. I know you will succeed in life in whatever you do.

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you were very brave at a

Anonymous's picture

you were very brave at a young age and for all you have been through you are a strong person and we are all proud of you

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You are a strong,

kitarea's picture

You are a strong, intelligent, beautiful young lady and I'm so proud to be your All-Star sister!! Love you Heather!

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