The following essay was written by D., a young woman who entered the home of her closest friend two years ago. In September, the family whom she lives with petitioned for permanent guardianship. It was granted.
As D. continues to heal from neglect she experienced as a child in an alcoholic family, she has found her wings: a straight-A student, she is active in a number of different extra-curricular activities. But she has deepened her roots too: with the support of her foster/guardian family, she has been able to build a stronger relationship with her adult sisters and nieces and nephews, as well as her mother, whom she was able to visit over Thanksgiving.
Constantly I am asked if am embarrassed that I live with my friend as a foster child, but honestly, I am proud. Telling myself that I could do better in life, I took myself out of a bad situation and started a new chapter in my life.
Personally, I believed my mother when she said that I wouldn’t be able to become anyone. Before [I made the decision to call out for help], I felt like a doll; I didn’t get to choose my actions or who I wanted to be — that was all done for me. Now I have an opportunity to become whatever I could dream of; I have the ability to be myself and create my own story.
Having five sisters and a little brother, I imagined leaving them to live 1000 miles away. Thinking they were irate with me, I couldn’t [bring] myself to call them. Miserable with the thought that my siblings hated me, didn’t even want to hear my name, I started to shut down. I wouldn’t talk to anyone and I cried a lot.
Thinking I was selfish, ignorant, the first couple of months I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t strong enough, I had the perfect support system. Embarrassed yes, I was for a while, but [finally] I thought, ‘how can I even think about being embarrassed?’ I had to be strong enough to tell my mom I didn’t want to live with her.
I told her I needed better; I left.
Am I proud of my choices, yes, of course; I did the right thing. I am proud I am a foster child.