Thursday, May 10, 2007

Children and Youth Like Me and My Siblings Need Families and Stability

By Michael Drake, former foster youth, West Virginia

In 1998, when I was 12, the state decided that my sister and brothers and I couldn’t safely stay with our mother. After a short stay at a shelter, we were placed together in a foster family. When they decided to stop doing foster care, we were sent to another shelter.

I asked my workers to find my aunt, uncle, or other relatives, but no one did. I was so frustrated and upset, that I ran away. They wanted to do a psychological evaluation on me due to the fact that I had been running away and showing behavior that they deemed was abnormal. So I was placed in a mental health facility in Ohio. In the three months that I was there, they said that I really didn’t have any mental health issues.

After I left there, my siblings and I were placed with a foster family. About a week later our mother gave up her rights to me and my siblings. We stayed with that foster family for about a year, which was the most permanent placement I ever had in foster care.

Between 14 and 18, I moved more than 15 times, bouncing between shelters, group care facilities, and foster families. I did not live with my brothers and sister and rarely got to spend time with them. I tried to remind them that we were still a family, but it was hard.

I wish the state had done more to help our mom keep the family together. If the state had invested the same money they spent putting us in all those placements into weekly visits with our mother and had given her skill lessons, it might not have escalated to us needing to go into permanent foster care.

At 18, I “aged out” of foster care without any family at all. So did my brother Randy. My sister was adopted and my youngest brother remains in foster care. In my opinion, foster care destroyed our whole sense of family in the end. We can’t sit down together and feel like we are siblings. It becomes more like, “Oh, I know that person” but it’s not like, “Oh, he’s my brother.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I FEEL THE SAME WEY U DO AND IT HARD FOR ME BECAUSE I THINK THEY SHOULD HELPS WITH THE AT LEAST A HOUSE AND WE WUOLD TAKE CARE OF THE RESR OF THE STUFF. ME IM TRYING TO ADOPT OR TO BE A FOSTER CARE TO THEM UNTILL THERE 18. MY TWO BROTHERS BUT ALL I NEED IS BIG ENOUGH HOUSE AND LIKE THERE BED U KNOW WHAT IM TRYING TO SAY. BUT I DONT KNOW WHO CAN HELP ME DO U KNOW. U COULD EMAIL ME AT ROSIE141987@HOTMAIL.COM WITH UR NAME.

Kim said...

I agree reform is long over due. Families are lost to one another and the system can only consider us collateral damage. However, there are many children damaged by this system and it's methods; it is more like an uncontrolled experiment that got way beyond any powers ability to cease its perpetuation of unhappy, unhealthy adults. Forty years ago Ohio did the same to my family.