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.
“I Finally Found My Perfect Family”
by Kita Seger, former foster youth
During the two years that I lived there, I experienced truly unconditional love and I was able to be a real kid without any worries. Our new home was clean and inviting. When we first arrived there, I was relieved to be welcomed by a warm, loving face. I felt safe for the first time in my life. I liked our new foster mom, Denise, right away and knew immediately that my sister and I would be safe and happy. And we were happy, making forts in the living room, and coloring in our room, surrounded by the beautiful pink carpet that enlivened it.
Dennis and Denise provided a wonderful home for Geneva and me. I remember going to Garden of the Gods National Park, camping in the rain, riding in the wheelbarrow while Dennis pushed us around the back yard, Friday night spaghetti dinners, celebrating birthdays with my friends from school, decorating our room with our drawings, and watching our favorite TV show, Sesame Street. Even as a young child, I loved books and Denise always had the best voice and patience reading to us at any time of the day. Education was important to them and they showed this through the many experiences we shared as a “family.” To this day, I cherish these everyday childhood memories in my heart.
Dennis was the one who always played with my sister and me outside, and he taught me how to ride my first bike. He climbed on the small bright pink bicycle and rode around our cul-de-sac while I chased after him. Because of my experience with my birth dad’s motorcycle, I was deathly afraid to try riding the bike by myself. But he had the patience, understanding, and love to teach me until I felt comfortable and that meant the world to me.
Dennis’ extended family was also extremely welcoming to Geneva and me, and I felt much love at family get-togethers and holidays. He has four siblings and they all have kids, who became my many “cousins.” I knew that this was what a “real” family was supposed to be and feel like. I became especially close to one girl cousin who only lived on the other side of town. She was right in the middle in age between Geneva and me, and all three of us would have wonderful adventures in the backyard with our dolls. I never saw anyone argue or fight and there was so much love all around me. I truly felt part of their family.
Dennis and Denise did not practice any religion, but they felt it was important to keep the connection to our birth family by allowing us to continue attending our birth parents’ church. I know I was baptized in the Protestant church when I was a baby; however, I never enjoyed going and it seemed too strict for me. I only have one memory of attending while living with my foster parents: performing in the Christmas play with my sister and having a short visit with my birth father afterwards.
While I lived in this haven, I still had mandatory visits with my birth parents and younger brother. I only have a few memories of these visits with the social worker supervising: eating my birth mother’s special way of making ramen noodles in the basement apartment; playing at a playground and swinging on my birth mother’s lap; and the last time when my birth mother failed to show up and I left extremely angry, hurt, and confused.
My birth parents would never be able to care for us again and the next best alternative was adoption. Geneva and I were sent to two different adoptive homes. I was terrified, not so much for myself, but for my little sister who would have no one to watch out for her. After all, I had promised her that I would always protect her.
Leaving my foster parents, Denise and Dennis, was the hardest thing I went through. I thought I had found a permanent family and I was perfectly happy to grow up there, but Social Services believed that growing up in a permanent home instead of staying in long-term foster care would be better for my sister and me. So I was adopted by a single mother and would need to get used to a new family again.
The day I left my foster home, I felt like my heart was being ripped in pieces. I was desperately trying to tell my caseworker that I wanted to stay and that my sister and I needed to stay together, but the words never came out. I resorted to a quiet goodbye and later that night, I cried my heart out for the parents and the home I thought I would have forever.
Denise and Dennis had provided a new life for me and I was scared for a new beginning. I didn’t think I could survive another transition and learn to be a daughter to another person. But I had persevered thus far in my young life and I decided if I couldn’t be with them, I would make them proud by being the best daughter to my new mom that I could be even though I was scared and hurt.
Kita’s story will continue on May 23, and 24.