My childhood memories… cruel, piercing words from my mother that made me feel worthless… “Spankings” that left me in pain and unable to sit for days. Every time I was left alone, I wondered if my mother and father would ever return. So many times I remember carefully stepping over them when they were passed out, drunk on the floor. I watched a parade of social workers come in and out of our home for years. I was terrified because I felt responsible for protecting my little sister when I was just a child myself.
Eventually, we were placed in foster care…my sister and I were separated. Sometimes I met the smiling faces of foster parents, often I met with apathetic stares; always another move to a new place. So many different schools - I can’t remember most of them. There were brief friendships that always ended with the next move. There was never a family that wanted to keep me; never a place that I could call home where I felt loved. I guess there were good times, there must have been, I just can’t remember any of them.
After Foster Care …
Now, I live in Morris County. I’ve been in the Roots & Wings program for three years. Life is so different for me. I’ve lived in the same apartment for three years. I’ve had the same Roots & Wings advocate, counselor, and mentor. I know they really care about me. There are other young people in the program who’ve had experiences that are so similar to mine. We give each other a lot of support; it is so good to know I’m not alone.
I am so proud that I earned a high school diploma and have a job now. I was in more debt than I ever dreamed I could pay off but now I am debt free. I even purchased my own car! I am continuing my education to help me plan for the future. I am hopeful.
Sometimes in the still of the night, the horrors of my childhood sneak up on me. They make me doubt my self-worth and my ability to be OK and to take care of myself. But most days, when I awake in my safe apartment, I find the strength and determination to go about my day. Meetings with my Roots & Wings social worker, counselor and mentor help me focus on school, work, and practical life skills training sessions. I am getting stronger every day and I am learning to believe in myself.
I know I will have a good life.