I grew up in foster care, spending most of my teenage life there, I struggled. Your teenage years are already extremely hard as it is but when you live somewhere that isn’t home it becomes twice as hard.
Whilst growing up I was scared to make mistakes in case my foster carers decided they didn’t want me anymore, this truly was a real fear for me. I felt that I was never a part of the family so I couldn’t make the same mistakes that their own children would make. I was lucky enough to be with my brother so the thought of being split up in different homes made growing up really hard, being a teenager is about making mistakes and learning from them but I don’t feel I really got that opportunity because I was so caught up with being what people wanted me to be and creating an unrealistic expectation for myself.
With statistics like ‘Children who spend time in the care system are less likely than other children to achieve academic success or benefit from stable relationships.’ and.. ‘They are more likely to have problems with crime, drugs and mental health than their peers.’ It is easy to see why it feels like the world is against you because of a choice that you couldn’t make for yourself, so for me ‘experimenting’ like my friends were was terrifying for me: What if I enjoy it? What if I am clinically depressed? What if I don’t want to go to University? Do these questions make me just another statistic? For a teenager these are questions that you shouldn’t feel compelled to ask yourself, mistakes and illness makes you human, not a result of the care system.
Being in foster care can feel never ending. Meetings in the middle of the school day: teachers, parents and social workers gathering around and talking about you like you’re not in the room and making you feel like you don’t have a voice, I sometimes felt like I was screaming inside of my own head to be like my friends, I felt like I would never be ‘normal’ and for me this was all I ever really wanted, I didn’t want to be known as the girl in care or the girl with alcoholic parents.
I came to a point where I was feeling extremely depressed and decided that I could no longer be in that situation and made the choice at 16 to leave and move into supported lodgings: Supported lodgings is a household that take young people in and give them a place to stay but you have to supply your own food etc so its ultimately like a stepping stone to living alone. I didn’t live there for long though, it was more like a pit stop until there was space in a hostel. Moving in to a hostel was the best decision for me, I didn’t want to be a part of somebody else’s household anymore, I didn’t want to feel like I was somebody’s job.
I eventually moved into the hostel, there were other young people living there too which made the experience a bit more bearable, I ended up being there for a year while waiting for my own home. Whilst in the hostel the feelings of loneliness would become unbearable because no family or friends where aloud inside, looking back now it was a price worth paying because I’ve now been in my own home for almost five years and it’s the most happiest and content I have ever been.
During all of this I decided to carry on with my education, I had recently finished school and it gave me some normality to my life. I soon moved into my own home, finished college and I have now recently graduated from University, that in itself being an achievement for someone who has been in the care system as statistics say only 6% of care leavers go into higher education compared to 38% of young people, I have left with an with an Upper Second Class Honours degree and I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me to become successful.
The point in this is that, bad times won’t last forever and you can overcome anything. There are so many young people in the care system and unfortunately a lot of them end up on a path they feel they can’t come back from because when you’re in that moment it does feel that nothing will ever be okay but as someone who has been there, it can. So if you’re in care, just remember you are human and your experiences can make for two different lives and I promise you that choosing the right path is the best path, that doesn’t mean that everything is always great because its not but if you can overcome statistics, you can overcome anything.
Now I’m just another young person living alone and trying to become the best version of myself I can be and to finally be at a place of ‘normality’ is a massive achievement for me, its something I thought I would never have. Social services have now stopped working with me, honestly it does bring a little fear as ultimately they have been the parents I didn’t have, making choices for me that I was to young to make but I’m ready to let that part of my life go and you will get to that point too even if it doesn’t feel like it now. These have been the best years of my life, of course there has been hard times but everyone has them and its natural!
Lastly, you may be in a position that if by choice you wouldn’t be in but life throws different obstacles at all of us and its how you handle them that makes you who you are.
Statistics were found here: http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/pages/the-statistics.html Also check this website out, they offer support for children in care.
There are so many websites that can offer support but if you just want to talk to someone who can relate then please feel free to contact me via my contact details on my About Me page.