Happy 18th Birthday! Get your ass out of my house — you are aging out. Foster kids kicked out with nothing.
The other day while I was sitting in the therapist’s office, I read a Q&A section where some lady wrote:
“I can’t believe foster kids are kicked out of their foster homes when they turn 18? How can foster parents do that? I almost don’t believe it happens. Aren’t they like their own kids?”
I did not have an opportunity to read the response, because my therapist called me, but I figured I could write a much better response than any other person…so here goes my response:
Dear Non-Believer –
It happens. It happens to many foster kids. It happened to me. After being in foster care for most of my childhood, the day I turned 18, they kicked me out. My worker came and we sat at the kitchen table. I had stuff already packed in a backpack. That was it…one large backpack. I had stolen a couple towels and a knife from my foster parents, because I knew I had no-where to go and that I needed the knife for safety and the towels for drying off and keeping warm. Otherwise, I had some clothes, some trinkets, $63, and a stuffed bear.
My worker had me sign some papers while sitting at my foster parent’s kitchen table and then handed me some papers. I was really kind of spaced out. My foster parents just stood there; one in the doorway to the hallway and one leaning against the counter by the kitchen sink. Then the worker asked me where I would like to go?
Where the hell is an 18 year old with NO FAMILY and NO SUPPORT and NO EDUCATION supposed to go? Where do you think? …..,……. I looked at my worker and said “I don’t know.” I remember getting really scared as the impact of that question hit me…
My foster mother hugged me and my foster father shook my hand. To this day, these actions amaze me. Going through the motions as they knew I was going into chaos… WTF?
So, my worker dropped me off at a shelter. Great planning eh?
Within one day, I was homeless, hungry, broke and alone. No one cared. Not “the system” and not any foster parents. Not one person. I managed to get a job and was fortunate that my boss let me crash on the couch. That did not last for long. So, I slept in 24-hour laundry mats, on benches, on strange couches learning to trade things for a place to crash.
Over the next couple years, I spent my time homeless, on and off the streets in different towns and cities ~ living in tourist towns working during the day, partying at night and sleeping under the stars, or in a hotel or in a boarding room, or in a boarded up building or on a roof, or in the ramble, or in places I should not have been. I tried to sleep in some shelters which believe it or not are pretty dangerous places and they have crazy rules. Like one shelter kicked everyone out at 7:00 AM and it was first come first serve at 7:00 PM to get back in. If I was working the dinner shift, forget about getting in because all the beds would be given away by the time I got there. Besides, I hated them and never felt safe. I would rather take my chances sleeping in nature with other kids then being in a shelter with all aged people. (Would you feel safe sleeping in a place like that picture?)
Lots of foster kids that age-out wind up homeless.
Covenant House reports that 50% of adolescents aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within six months because they are unprepared to live independently, have limited education and no social support.
How can foster parents do that you ask? —- Simple, we aren’t their kids.
In some cases we are nothing more than a good easy fuck, a punching bag, or a paycheck. And the next batch is coming in when we are getting kicked out.
Now, I am not saying that ALL foster parents are like this; on the contrary, I get notes from people who sound like fabulous foster parents….and those foster parents are the ones that make sure that their foster kids get services, get their needs met, get educated, get to college, have a place to go, have a place to come “home to.” And those foster parents are also usually the ones that adopt.
The kids that age-out are basically the kids no-one wants….the ones that are “too difficult,” “too hurt,” “too old,” “too damaged,” “too whatever…..”
No-one wants .
And when no-one wants you, it is very easy to kick you out.
You see “Non-Believer”–
No-one wanted me and I aged-out. Between 20,000-30,000 kids age-out each year…