Archive for April 17, 2012
Occasionally I get a comment from an ex-foster kid or a foster parent that raised foster children that are “doing great” and are *successful.* Usually these comments negate my experience, tell me to look forward, or they simply can’t understand what I write because their experience was “not so bad.” Frequently they tell me they are in college, are in relationships, and have a good life because they did not let “foster care affect them.” I got one a couple of days ago on another post.
Usually I remove the comments or respond, depending on my mood. I often feel I have to defend why “I am such a loser” compared to whoever is commenting. What I usually say is something along the lines of:
NOT all kids are the same when it comes to the reason they are in foster care
NOT all kids are in the system for the same amount of time
- SOME kids have learning disabilities that affect school performance
- SOME kids have NO biofamily, some have some biofamily connections
- SOME kids have severe mental illness caused by years of abuse; attachment issues, DID, PTSD
- SOME kids can’t trust or form relationships because they have been so hurt; they live in constant fear
- SOME kids get ok foster homes, some get good foster homes, and some get bad foster homes
- SOME kids wind up living on the streets because they have NO place to go
- …if it was as easy and simple as people suggest, the statistics on kids who age out would not be so horrible (i.e. less than 3% get a college degree, compared to >28% of the general population, 70% of aged out girls get pregnant, 60% of males have been convicted of a crime ……)
For example: Making a comparison about my life which was filled with severe abuse from my bioparents, to someone who entered foster care at age 16 because their parents were drug addicts, but never abused their child is like comparing apples to oranges. You can’t make comparisons about where one foster child should be based on where another one is, because life experiences are so different. Early development and treatment plants a seed for how a child grows.
A person who is “doing great” and has relationships of both friendships and sexual relationships, clearly had a different early life than I did. Psychologically they are more developed than I am. My early life has left me stuck in stage ONE of development — Trust vs. Mistrust. I am still navigating that stage, working on it in therapy and slowly in real life. I fucking have along way to go. I barely trust MYSELF!
Another issue that always jumps out at me when I get these comments is: GOOD THERAPY is important and helps. BAD THERAPY fucks you up more and makes things worse. And NO THERAPY keeps a kid stuck. Maybe ex-foster kids who are “doing great” had good therapy during their time in foster care. Maybe they did not need much therapy, because their life was not that damaging.
I needed therapy from day one in foster care until present. Let’s be real, I know I am screwed up. I live like a hermit, because I am terrified of people. Worse, I am terrified of myself.
My therapy in foster care… consisted of “occasional” good therapy followed by moving foster homes and either not getting therapy or getting bad therapy. In order for therapy to work, you need a relationship. You can’t form a relationship when you are moving all the time. You can’t form a relationship if you are NOT in therapy at all. In order for therapy to work, everyone in the child’s life need’s to be involved… yes, that means workers and foster parents. I think I can count on one hand the number of times my foster parents had an interest in “therapy.” Many times, they did not even drive me or pick me up… a worker or a fucking transporter would take me or pick me up. Hard to process therapy when the foster parents that are “caring” for you, don’t show an interest.
And if you think I am full of shit… ironically when I was thinking about MOMS last week, I found this blog written by a therapist. No, it’s not Dr. Val, but LCSW Martha, who apparently has had a career working with all kinds of children and adults, and spent some time working with foster kids…. Most of her blog is above my head in terms of smartness, but this statement from her adoption post, fucking floored me, because it captured my experience with therapy during foster care. In a way, it was validating for me….
From the mouth of a therapist who worked with foster kids:
“No parent, group home worker, or foster parent ever came in to consult with me despite my repeated invitations. I mailed off occasional, unrequested progress reports to some remote office and was never contacted or informed about any external occurrences in the child’s life unless the kid told me themselves. I was never asked to confer or to participate in any family or institutional decision. Children would be hospitalized, placed in adoptive families, teens incarcerated, run off, or returned to live with their parents and I would never be notified, except by other kids. Case closed. …. None of them felt that anyone belonged to them, there was no trusted grown-up invested in their specific well-being.”
My response to her post:
“Very powerful. People wonder why therapy is not successful with foster kids or why they aren’t healed when they age-out. “People” –foster parents, workers, bio-parents if appropriate — need to be involved in the healing process, not just on the outside and not just passing the kid around to people who half-ass care.”
You see folks.. why some kids are still fucked up?
You see why I am still fucked up?
For some/many long-term foster kids…
No-one engages and helps aid the healing work.
If no-one cares in your life, it is really hard to grow and heal alone … For many foster kids who have not had safe and positive relationships, foster parents are supposed to be that…
But when they don’t care about our healing, or talk about it with us, if we wish … foster parents become not much better than other “parents” we have had, because WE know they are not interested in us and don’t care about us.
If no-one cares about you, it is really hard to care about yourself…