Aging Out of Foster Care

http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/family-411-push-extend-foster-care-age-21-21307.shtml?wap=0

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Losing A Foster Child

When they go. When my foster children leave, it is heart breaking. I grieve for days. Sometimes it is hard to breathe. I’m never ready for it and it’s not something you can prepare for.

Two left, my home, and went to family, and I have no idea how they are doing. I still think about them everyday. I wonder what they are doing, how they are doing. They were my first FosterCare heartbreak.

Mikayla was reunited with her brothers and is being adopted by an amazing couple. I still keep in touch with her and she is doing remarkably well. She taught me how to be tough and how to quit being “weird” all the time. That’s what she would say to me when I cried, which was a lot by the way. She was quiet but when she had something to say you heard it.

Miss T has recently left my home. It’s hard, very hard but she is getting adopted by a loving couple. She was my first foster daughter, my first foster child.

Fate…

A mom and dad signed them over to the state…
Tonight they close their eyes not knowing their fate…
I lie awake wondering how I can help them through…
At this moment loving them is all I know to do…

Quote from former foster youth…

“They were like, ‘You’re 16. You’re going to go off to college in a couple of years, why do you want a family?’ It’s about my entire life, it’s not just about my childhood. I want to know that I’m going to have a place to come home to during Christmas breaks. I want to know that I’m going to have a dad to walk me down the aisle. That I’m going to have grandparent for my children.” MARY, Former foster youth, Tennessee

About me and fostering

I have an amazing 13 year old son who is really wise beyond his years. He is an academic, fencer, swimmer and a superhero expert. He has supported my decision to foster from the beginning and has been amazing with each child that has come to us.

I decided to foster in the summer of 2012 and started my training in the fall of 2012 and finished in March of 2013.

Miss T came to reside with us on April 10, 2013 and my home was her 6th one in one year. She has lived the majority of her life in the homeless shelter. I knew since December she was coming to my home, so I had months to prepare for her. I also had visits with her before she actually came to stay. I was planning on adopting Miss T but I fear that may not happen now. I’m still waiting on the judge’s decision. She has been in the system 49 months and still has supervised visits with her parents every Friday.

Five days later I received a phone call and Alexus, 7, and Zowie, 3, arrived around 10 pm with just the clothes on their backs. My amazing friends pulled together clothes and basic necessities for them before they arrived. Alexus came out of the car screaming and screamed most nights the first couple of months. It was so heart breaking. Zowie was very quiet and sucked her thumb and I carried her everywhere. Zowie had experienced horrible things at the hands of her mother, grandmother and stepgrandfather. She remembered everything, every detail and she shared all of it with me. I will never forget her story or her strength that got her through it.

Those two girls were the most traumatized case they have had, and the remarkable strides they made still astound me to this day. A foster mom that went through the training with me says this: “Give Bobbie 5 days with any foster child and you won’t recognize them.” Her words are far too kind, but to hear those words, makes me feel like I am doing something right.

The three girls experienced swimming for the first time with me. I took them to their first movie and on their first vacation. Their first concert was in Gastonia, NC. I took them to their first water park and amusement park. I experienced many firsts with these young ladies, and created forever lasting memories with them.

Alexus and Zowie left in November. I had a 3 hour notice to get them ready and transport to the agency. The removal was very traumatic for them, for me, and I will never forget it. I had to pick them up from school and once they realized what was going on they were screaming down the hall way. Teachers came out to hug us and walk with us. We were all crying.

I didn’t take any more children right away because I was grieving and I still am.

I took Miss T to Nashville to a CASA event on December 1. I took her to the Opry and watched many talented artists perform. She loved every second of it. While there, we found out it was also Angel Tree Day, so we attended that event as well.

Miss T and I are in a video from that event, and I didn’t even know they were filming us. Miss T was my real live paper angel and sharing that moment with her was surreal. We adopted two paper angels that day and delivered their items before the CASA event. After the CASA event we drove all night to make it back in time to pick up 5 week old Baby A on December 2nd. I haven’t slept since. LOL!

Baby A is Miss T’s half sister and was born 3 days before Halloween. I remember crying all day on Halloween because I couldn’t bring her home. I already had 4 children and they couldn’t place her with me due to Alexus’ background. She saw something really horrific that involved her infant brother. We were afraid she would have flashbacks and we wanted to make sure all children remained safe.

Baby A is doing really well and she will be 6 months in a few weeks. I cannot believe it!

Mikayla came to my home on February 28, and I didn’t realize that I had met her before until she walked through my door. She was part of a sibling group we studied during training. They had endured so much and I remember seeing Mikayla in the room drawing, with her sister standing beside her. Both boys were in the hallway and the youngest was on the floor screaming. They were having a supervised visit with their mom and they did not know, at the time, it was their last. She relinquished her rights the next day without telling anyone.

Mikayla is doing fantastic here and I am going to miss her very much. I still cry when I think about her departure. I know she is going to a wonderful place and I will still get to see her. I find comfort in that.

That is my foster journey thus far. There are still many ups and downs with Miss T and Baby A’s cases but I’m hanging in there. I have had children here for respite and suicide watch as well. Each child that has walked through my front door, whether it was for one night or one year, has touched my heart and soul and I will never forget them. ❤️❤️❤️