Developing Self-Worth in fostered children
I know exactly how it feels to be shunned within your own social group, and even within your own society. I remember watching the movie, ‘Pretty in Pink’, and for the first time, I realized that I wasn’t alone. For me, that was enormously helpful.
Pop culture and the media have the power to improve society. Thankfully today, we have lot more TV programs, films and books, focused on the issues of bullying. Having been bullied, when I see something, I say something. I speak up at work, online, and even in the grocery store. I’m also doing that with my memoir. In my opinion, that means that the bully lost and I won.
How can society encourage foster children and/or adults who were previously in care?
When you meet someone involved, or formerly involved, with the foster care system, don’t automatically assume that we are a psychological mess. Don’t automatically respond to us with fear, and trepidation. Give us the benefit of the doubt. If we are a mess (because some of us are, and I certainly was when I was younger), I’d appreciate people showing us some compassion.
Residents of the foster care system cannot change the fact that we were abused and neglected, no more than someone can change their ethnicity. I’m making that specific comparison intentionally, because having grown up in the system, for me and for all of us, is literally an immutable characteristic.
We cannot go back in time and change it. We will always be someone who experienced the foster care system for the rest of our lives. Only bigots, racists and homophobics prejudge, and vilify people, based upon stereotypes of immutable characteristics.
Listen to the people who have actually been in the system, and those who are in the system now, and read our narratives, because a large majority of the people who talk about us, and write about us, based on what I see in our media and within our pop culture, seem to have never even knowingly had an actual conversation with any of us.
Support the many efforts being made by the survivors and the thrivers who have personally experienced the foster care system. Help us to reach out to those still in care. Help us share our own voices, with those of us who have been made, incorrectly, to feel that we need to hide our past, so that we can give them, and ourselves, and everyone else who doesn’t know anything about the realities of having been in foster care, a better story – our own, true story.