In honor of May being National Foster Care Month, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives is running a special series designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of foster care and adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
Too afraid of the monster called “The Unknown,” coupled with the inability to articulate my feelings, needs, or wants, kept me caged in a silent prison for many, many years. This fear would define my life for decades.
There would be many years of trauma due to my lack of life skills and inability to communicate. I aged out, deciding my only choice was to marry three weeks before I turned 18. It was either that, or take a handful of sleeping pills, because I couldn’t face the overwhelming fear of homelessness.
Although I graduated at 16, there was not a plan to help me transition to adult life. So, at 17, I felt I had no choice but to marry. This decision would be one of hundreds of devastating decisions I would make trying to become an adult without the necessary tools to become a successful adult, by myself.
But today, my life is an awesome life. My husband and I, we are the proud new parents of two beautiful, sweet little boys adopted from foster care. We add these two precious little bundles to our family with my two grown biological children. Together we are a family of six. Although this journey was an incredibly wonderful journey, it wasn’t without tremendous pain and agony due to my lack of life skills, social skills, lack of encouragement, lack of self-esteem, no self-confidence, and the label I wore every day: Foster Child. Even the adoption of our two foster children became a difficult journey, all because I wore the label of foster child.
I sit here and I look at my life and I can’t believe it’s my life. Ordinary people don’t have lives like this. This kind of life exists only in movies or in books; however, this is my life and it’s real. I sit here and I am crying about the horrors of yesterday, yet am amazed at who and where I am today. How did this happen? How could a little girl so battered and traumatized have such an awesome and amazing life? If you don’t believe in God . . . today is the day. You don’t get from there to here without divine intervention. It’s not possible. This is not a rags-to-riches story, this goes so much deeper. It’s the impossible, becoming possible. Only God can create miracles, and I am a miracle. I feel like I’m God’s little miracle. After all, he was the only one who was there for me through thick and thin. Only God loved me unconditionally and he didn’t judge me the way man judged me. He believed in me, when America didn’t deem me worthy.
I am a strong woman, full of confidence and ready to fight the fight of my life . . . I am ready to fight just as hard for my 500,000 other children who live in foster care, who are muddling through life every day in a traumatized shell of a body, as I did for the two who now bear my name. I cannot adopt them all, but they are all mine; and I will fight the fight of my life for them.
Helen is a former foster child who lived a life of constant trauma and despair. But today, Helen is a foster/adoptive mother and author of “From Foster to Fabulous – One little girl’s journey through abuse, foster care, aging out and life beyond.” She is the founder and executive director of Fostering Superstars, a nonprofit for foster children. Helen is a Congressional Award Winner for her work with foster children, as well as a Points of Light Award Honoree. She is a popular keynote speaker, trainer, and advocate for foster children. Helen and her husband John live in Georgia and have four children. She is very involved in her church, is a child of God and a woman of passion. www.fromfostertofabulous.com