I have always been open and honest about my past and where I came from, because I am not ashamed. I have never shied away from saying I’m a foster kid, or that I was in the system. To me, denying any single part of me is denying all of me; I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am without every little thing . that has happened.
Although, without fail, every time I am having a conversation with a person that has never interacted with foster children and they learn that I was in the system my entire life, they always say a combination of things: “YOU were a foster kid?! I never would have guessed! You’re so (normal/smart/beautiful/well-adjusted)!” I always laugh it off, but it gets under my skin. Do they expect foster kids to look like swamp monsters?
I mean catch me before coffee, and I’m close to swamp monster-ish, but really, what are foster kids supposed to look like? Are we supposed to wear a giant F on our chest to distinguish ourselves and announce to the world that we had a less than idealistic childhood?
How are we supposed to act, be violent and un-predictable? I have never been ashamed of the person I am, and I never will be. I can’t say that I am one hundred percent proud of every decision that I’ve made, but they are mine and I made them. If you were to judge me based off of something that I did or didn’t do, or say or didn’t say, you are well with in your rights to do so. I can’t say that it will bother me, or that I will give it a second thought, but you judge away.
What bothers me the most is when people judge me based on what happened to me as a child. I have heard so many horrible things regarding foster children: we set fires to houses, we steal silverware, you better hide the good china, etc. Those are just the ones that I’ve been told so many times, they’re seared into my mind. I really want to know where these came from and do people legitimately believe these things? Was there some china breaking, fork stealing, pyromaniac foster kid reign before my time?
Did I miss out on the revolution? I always said I was born too late. I don’t make it a mission, by any means, but I do hope that people look at me and see what that terrified kid could be. I know there are mitigating circumstances to every story, and I know the statistics of foster children that end up in jail, but I also strongly believe those statistics would drastically change if more people opened up their homes to kids like me. We have seen, and experienced so many horrible things, most of us are eternally grateful just for a safe place to rest. I honestly can’t imagine how differently my life would have turned out if I even had one decent home. One home where i could relax without being worried we were going to get sent back. One place I could sleep unafraid. If only there was one person that believed in me, or encouraged me, not out of some self-important, holier -than-thou, ego trip; but one genuine person who wanted to see me succeed the way every parent wants their child to succeed.
I promise, I didn’t choose to be born to crack-heads, I didn’t choose for my entire extended family to not want us, I didn’t choose any part of what happened to me as a child. If I were making the decisions, I would have been born in some posh mansion with a personal butler named Jeeves who fed me ice cream all day and let me turn my bedroom into a trampoline house. I definitely would not have chosen to be tossed aside as trash and treated my whole life as “less than” because my birth parents made poor
My biggest hope for sharing my story is for people to not see foster kids as some china-breaking swamp monsters, but see us for who we are. We are children, born to people who are broken, people who didn’t care enough about us to make the effort to keep us.
Written by: Aris Murdock, IG @arisvsydnor
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