Foster Swell: Resilience
Foster Love. Foster Kindness. Foster Swell.
I am Resilient by Megan S.
I am Megan, and I am a former foster child. In breaking the patterns of my biological family I became a statistic in the most positive way!
I am resilient.
Foster children each have a unique situation when bad news is given and in some cases, sadly trauma is involved. Likewise each child responds and reacts differently. For one child, what could be the trigger to a beautiful resiliency is for another child what could be fuel to a lifetime of poor choices and the "messy-cycle" of repeating negative "family history."
For one child, foster care brings about a beautiful relationship with a new family that becomes family. For another, foster care is a sore reminder of a lack of control over certain aspects in their life. And every once in awhile, a foster child gets an OFFICIAL forever family -- change of name and no more home placement moves.
I get it. I get each of these scenarios. More so the positive! Although, hey I made some poor choices myself…..thankfully, none were life-threatening and none involved crime of any sort, none even remotely close to the poor choices my biological family made. As a former foster child, I am a firm believer that when in "the system," you use it to your advantage-- rise above the pattern of your biological family history, and persevere. To truly thrive in such a system, one must be resilient. This is way easier said than done....don't believe me, Google “statistics on foster children.”
Resiliency and thriving is not so much a matter of "being in the right place at the right time."
For me, personally, I give 100% credit to my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. I knew what I knew about my biological family history and I knew I wanted to "press on". I learn from others, either what I aspire to become or despise being. Resiliency meant choosing to move forward despite the past.
There is truth behind the phrase "mind over matter", because if one were to wallow in the absence of family and not understand or give a default credibility to the social services system, they would in a sense "victimize" themselves, versus saying "hey, yeah my childhood was shaken and my family situation is ever changing, going from home/family to home/family, but I know that I do not want to live in the pattern of my biological family history!" Enduring the challenges of foster care and thriving despite them requires resiliency and choosing to make wise decisions.
Although I was never “official” with my "forever family" (I was never adopted), I am thankful for my foster family that became my family. At a young age I "knew" but didn't fully "know", in the sense that I just really didn't fathom/comprehend, the instability that was associated with multiple placements and what had caused me to be placed in a foster home. I later understood that some things just are not age appropriate, even for the most curious child. More times than once, I remember asking my lawyer and social worker(s) "what happened?", "no, what is the full story?", "so, they will never get custody of me again, right?"...the security and stability of my "forever foster family" was comforting and protecting, especially when I was of age to fully learn the details of my "why's?".....talk about innocence being rocked when you learn that those who birthed you and were meant to love and protect you, failed you.
Prior to fully knowing the answer to my "why(s)?", I knew I wanted to be different, truly distant/set apart from my biological family. I knew what happened was wrong and that was a driving force in my resiliency at a young age. The removal of my biological siblings and myself from what we knew as "home" was not an option to us or my biological family. From a young age, I recall the instability of my "egg donor's" crime and temper. I recall an instance in which my biological sibling was being abused, things that I wish I was never exposed to, things that no child should experience and no child should be exposed to (physically, emotionally, and mentally).
A few group homes and multiple foster home placements, which entailed new schools (read: instability), eventually brought me to my "forever family"...my last and final foster home placement. The home was full of love, although my youth (teenage years) brought the typical rebellion and attitude [what teenager doesn’t test boundaries?!]. I made a decision to emancipate myself at the age of 18.5 years, about two months before my high school graduation. I didn't "fall off the wagon" but I made some poor choices with where I ran off to.....but, this was no “snowball effect” -- I went to college that Fall and four years later I graduated with a B.A. in Communications.
And, although some unfortunate events occurred in my college years.....a marriage that was more of a "glorified dating relationship" which ended in a sad but necessary divorce for one, through it all God remained constant and faithful! God truly provided!
My family raised me in a home where Christ-likeness was exemplified, through each challenge! Bad decisions that turned to lessons learned help me see my need for Him! My pastors, AWANA leaders, and adult "mentors" taught me by example that life does go on and the system/my biological family do not define me.
Although the "foster child label" surfaced insecurities in my life, I persevered. What teen wants to miss out on slumber parties? What teen wants to be known as the one that can't go to off campus lunch with their peers? What teen wants to be called out of class to meet with their social worker (ya know, since every teen has a social worker....joking, but really!)? The people in my life such as my social workers, court advocate, and lawyer at least tried (although, not always to my satisfaction) to be a voice for me to the court, ensuring my well-being and encouraging me in my resiliency.
The gratitude I have for my "forever family" (parents+sibs) is one that I just can't put into sufficient enough words! I LOVE 'EM! Through the tears, laughter, rebellion, lessons learned.....they have cheered me on and loved me towards Christ. God is good. All the time. All the time, GOD IS GOOD! Through all I have endured and experienced, I thank God for what he has done, for it has brought me to where I am today: a Christian, a happily married wife, and an abundantly thankful mom! Through his goodness and grace, the past, is the past; and I will not repeat "family history."
To God be all the glory!
I am Megan, and I am a face of foster care.