Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's My Life conference for youth aging out of foster care

I apologize if my blog entries have been less frequent... I have been preparing to attend and assist with an upcoming conference in Seattle...

I vividly remember my entry into the adult world. It was the summer of 1989. I had been living in a group home, and the director's son had crept into my room, late in the night, and violated me. When I spoke to the director about what had happened, his primary concern was liability. He sent his son to the military, and kicked me out of the group home.

I was sixteen years old. I had just been raped. Now, I didn't know where I was going to live. I felt like I was being punished for not being strong enough to defend myself against what was happening to me.

In one of the most supreme examples of divine providence of my life, I ended up starting college that fall. A sixty-year-old woman whom I had known in my childhood agreed to be my temporary guardian. The following year, I was legally emancipated and moved into my first apartment.

I was book-smart and life-dumb. I didn't know how to cook. The food at the group had just been delivered to us, mysteriously, like manna from above. I didn't know how to budget, nor how to drive. Not to mention the emotional baggage that I was carrying around with me.

It was a long journey from where I was back then to the person I am today. For two weeks, I was homeless. For eight years, I was afraid to date. I often despaired of ever having a family of my own.

Now, I have a husband and two stepdaughters. Would you like to see them? Please visit www.sunshinegirlonarainyday.com or www.nofearinlove.com

My husband is a songwriter. Would you like to hear his music? Please visit www.nathansbrain.com

I went from a place of being unwanted to being sheltered and needed and loved. I achieved my college and graduate level degree. At this time, I am incredibly happy with my life.

And yet...

I worry about current foster children, and people who have aged out of care. Why must the journey be so difficult and treacherous? Couldn't we do something to make the path easier for teens aging out of foster care to travel?

That's why I'm so excited about volunteering to assist with the fourth annual "It's My Life" conference. Because its purpose is to assist youth who are transitioning from foster care to adulthood. I promise to share a full report when I get back!

For more information, please visit:
http://www.casey.org/Resources/Projects/ItsMyLife/

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Comments:
Hey Lisa, thanks for your encouragement. I wonder if the american foster care system is more advanced than the australian system. The australian system is set to change for the better, apparently, with new legislation focussing on the "cumulative affect on the child", rather than worrying so much about the adults in the cases. I will definately read up the info and insights on your sites. And probably email for some advice in the future, the perspective of an adult who was in care as a young person would be so valuable to me. Maybe you will be able to bring the "It's My Life" conference to australia one day...
 
It would be wonderful if we were able to bring the It's My Life conference to Australia.

I've been reading several articles about the Australian foster care system lately. The good thing is that the problems are in the public eye.

After I get back from my trip, I'd love to email those articles to you... (in case you haven't read them already)... and discuss some of the issues going on.

Again - public awareness is key.

There is a horrible situation going on in the Clark County, Nevada that I think should be national news.

I've contacted newspapers, reporters, administrators... but everyone remains "hush hush" about it. So this news is not being shared on a national level.

Kind of gives the phrase, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" a whole new meaning!

Lisa
 
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