Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If you are "jealous" of emancipating foster care youth, then maybe you need a heart transplant



I am currently wrestling with an issue regarding how to respond to the "But I had it harder" attitude -- which I believe is inaccurate, and stands in the way of helpfulness to today's foster care youth.

During a recent college event for foster care youth, an adult presenter from an outside agency, who came from an impoverished background, commented on about how much she wished that she had access to the resources available to emancipated foster care youth (in terms of filling out the FAFSA as an independent and ETV funds).

However, that doesn't take into account:

  • the value that "family privilege" brings to youth from intact families
  • the accrued knowledge, information and love that adds up over the years (aka: "common sense")
  • the value of actually having a place to go to on the holidays, and having someone miss you when you aren't there.

I'm not only a former foster child, I'm also a college-and-grad school graduate, wife and stepmom to two beautiful daughters who are now in college.

My husband and I view parenting as an honor, a privilege and a charge. This means that our daughters will NEVER need to worry about:

  • Whether or not they are lovable and precious to us.
  • Whether or not we will protect them and provide for them.
  • Whether or not they can call when they are struggling, or stay with us during college breaks.
  • Whether or not, on holidays, we would miss them if they weren't there.

Such is not the same for foster children.

Such was not the case for me. I remember, so clearly, what it felt like to be a young person in college, and facing that existential crisis of wondering why I was here on earth if there isn't going to be someone to love me.

But, at the end of the day, it is not about me. It is about each and every one of these young people who are "aging out" of foster care in the midst of A RECESSION and trying to survive.


And that's the cause that I am dedicating my heart to...

Comments:
Wow. I think you're right about the heart transplant. The resources available to former foster youth have not really been around all that long. Also, not a lot of foster youth know about these resources or have the ability to access them.

I lived in my car during holidays and school breaks. I would have traded every dime and ever resource available to me for a family and somewhere to call home.
 
What really makes me sad is:

My deepest and darkest concern that some caseworkers and even Emancipation Department heads in my state still harbor the same attitude:

- They originally chose their career based upon their own rough, impoverished background.

- They are currently being entrusted with the lives of foster care youth.

- But, somehow, some of them just don't get it.

That's what keeps me up late at night.
 
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