As this blog comes to life I will be touching on a variety of subjects. One of which is how the state system regularly dehumanizes children for their “well being.”
Children are biologically wired to seek bonds with their parents regardless of the quality of their home life. The foster care system is filled with children with bad parents, yet 99.9% of foster children will tell you they can’t wait to go home.
Removing me from my mother for the final time when I was 7 years old was a necessary evil. Necessary.. But still evil and dehumanizing.
Overnight, I went from being a child with a home (however bad) to a child in an institution. I went from a home with my “mommy” to a cold dormitory full of small beds and scary strangers. Strangers barking at me to line up behind other frightened children without question.
My panicked protests that I didnt belong, that my mother was misunderstood.. even the tears that fell like a waterfall in the weeks and months to come fell on seemingly deaf ears. “No” I could not go home. “No” I could not remain with my brothers. I had somehow become state property and there was nothing I could do about it.
Fortunately, the cumpulsion to bond with parents is very difficult, if not impossible to destroy completely… Which means that despite the past, despite the heartbreak, children will still seek those bonds with replacement caregivers. I can testify this is 100% true.
Unfortunately, during my time in state custody I lived in approximately 20 different placements by the time I was 12 years old. That’s roughly 20 placements in just under 6 years. I not only bonded closely with nearly a dozen caregivers, but was forced to re-live the original trauma of being separated from my mom over and over and over again – each time i was moved to a new home. You can imagine how dehumanizing and traumatizing that was.
This is where I stopped writing two weeks ago and hit a bit of “writer’s block.”
I started this blog at the encouragement of a friend who is a famous blogger. His question to me was, “How will you make this optimistic? How will you make this sound hopeful? That is what people are looking for.”
So I took some time to mull it over. I’m not interested in selling snake oil to foster/adoptive parents. Solutions exist but they are rarely simple or universal in their application.
There is certainly plenty of hope. Hope is what got me here… That’s why I can write this, but how can I explain that hope to someone who can’t relate?
I got out of bed today. I got out of bed on far more difficult mornings than today.
I’ve never spent a day in prison, my daughter has never spent a second in foster care. I don’t do drugs and I’ve never laid a hand on my child or another woman in anger.
I overcame decades of abuse and mistreatment by family, therapists and state placements to stand on top of mountains I had been told that I’d never be able to climb.
More significantly, I know that I’m just getting started.
There is hope. A ridiculous amount of which could never be summed up in a single blog post. Personally, I think “hope” is the easy part for anyone not ready to just lay down and die.
The “doing” something… Well, that’s the trick.
– the Secondhand Child