I know I don’t act the way you want me to. And I know you don’t understand why. I know you look at me and think I am just oppositional, a pain in the butt. You judge me and wonder what is wrong with me, why can’t I just act “normal”? Believe me when I tell you, I don’t know why I can’t either. I want to act “normal,” I want you to love me and to be the perfect child for you. I want to be happy. But something inside me won’t let me. And it hurts. My thoughts are always racing out of my control. I want to crawl out of my skin. Why am I this way?
There is such joy, excitement, and freedom that comes with moving into your first apartment. It can also be frightening navigating new environments and experiences. These highs and lows are emphasized when working with the “Foster Youth to Independence” Voucher. The Foster Youth to Independence Voucher, or FYI voucher, is a new statewide program that provides housing choice vouchers to former foster youth who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Jensen wasn’t a kid used to getting or giving second chances. He lost his parents when he was young and spent most of his childhood bouncing between extended family members, family friends, and foster homes. He endured physical and emotional abuse from people he was told to trust, so by the time he was in his early teens, he didn’t trust anyone. By then, he’d become a ward of the state and his Social Worker, Lacey, wanted nothing more than to find him a safe and stable home. But Jensen wasn’t interested.
While I know that “It takes a village to raise a child” has become a tired cliche used to promote ideological purposes without ever being appropriately attributed to any specific “village” (to date, no one has figured out where this phrase actually originates from), you’ll have to forgive me when I say that I still really like it. This phrase evokes so many emotions--togetherness, collaboration, acceptance, worthiness, belonging. In current American culture, these feelings are critical, right?
Emily Dickinson wrote:
"Hope" is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —
And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —
I've heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet — never — in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of me.”
March 17, 2020 was a day that forever changed the landscape of the world as I knew it…it was the day I began working from home due to the uncertainty of COVID-19. Since that day, the only thing constant in my life--personally and professionally--has been change. There is such irony in that thought! My one constant is change.
When Denise and Lee became adoptive foster parents, they were full of excited anticipation. While unsure of what to expect, they were excited to care for someone who truly needed them. That someone would turn out to be Cora--a nine year old girl who was placed in Emergency Shelter Care when her grandparents could no longer care for her. Without parents or other family, and after being repeatedly disappointed by life, Cora had little hope of finding a family of her own. Little did she know who was waiting for her.
I’m Nat, a Rehabilitation Specialist working with youth at Family Care Network. I’ve been a mentor for about six months now, and I’d like to share about my experience because I think that mentoring foster youth makes a big difference in their lives and in our community. I met my mentee working as a Rehabilitation Specialist in our Emergency Shelter Care Program. She was in a shelter foster home for about six months, and during those months I picked her up from school almost every day, and spent the rest of the day with her.
Being located on the Central Coast of California certainly has some great perks. As we all know, we’ve got beautiful beaches, pretty perfect weather, and amazing wine and local cuisine, just to name a few. But by far, our area’s greatest perk is the strong community-spirit that pervades San Luis Obispo County. We here at FCNI see this spirit demonstrated time and time again.
I’m writing this from the table in our motorhome; the motorhome we bought two years ago when we decided we were ready to retire, sell our home and go traveling. In the past two years we have been through so much--continuing to foster teens while keeping the house clean and ready to show with only four hours notice. One thing that made me so happy was that our kids were supportive of our plan to retire and sell the house, even if it meant they would have to move on. We were happy to be part of Wraparound Foster Care which meant that there was a plan for the kids and placements were intended to be short-term. None of the kids ever complained about picking up their rooms or about heading with me out of the house so we wouldn’t be around for the showings. It took about a year and a half, but we finally sold our house and either sold, gave away or stored the majority of our belongings in order to move into the motorhome. It’s been about three weeks and I have been doing a lot of reflecting about life as a Resource Parent and about some of the kids who touched my heart over the last 22 years…