All better today from the angsty, angry post of two days past.
These people are the reason why.
They are teenagers in foster care at reality town with me. I am the city manager, the military recruiter, the car dealer, the banker, and the home improver – depending on when you drop in. They are learning how to be all grown up. Reality town for these kids – it’s coming fast.
Good Heavens to Betsy. I love these kids. These so-tough, vulnerable teens in foster care? They are my favorite.
I stand in the middle of a circle and talk to them about their future and they turn their backs to me so I can take their pictures and post them here for you. I want to put each of them in my car, drive home, and protect them from all future bad, and heal all the past bad.
A young woman, 17-years-old is about to be placed in proctor care – a professional, for profit, sometimes, shift-rotating, family who is trained to deal with youth with “high level” needs. The thing is? She doesn’t have “high level” needs. She is a perfectly well-adjusted teenager who is moving from a foster placement because her foster dad, and her bio parents before him, screwed up. She is moving because there are NO foster families willing to take teenagers. Foster parents are afraid of teenagers. Afraid of this beautiful girl. Adoption is a word whispered around her. It is no longer a goal.
I stand in the middle of a circle and talk to them about their future and I can count on one hand the youth I think will make it, who will be okay on their own, when they “emancipate” from the system and fend for themselves in their real reality town. They talk over me, interrupt each other, stand up for themselves, and hide their scared.
- PLEASE! Let us sleep at a friend’s without requiring background checks on everyone who lives there.
- PLEASE! Teach people to stop judging us, stop labeling us, stop thinking we put ourselves into foster care because of something we did.
- PLEASE! Train foster parents better so they don’t treat us poorly.
- PLEASE! Find us safety and home.
I sit on a chair in a circle and hear them say these things and I groan and shake my head. I tease them and I laugh with them and urge them to be smart now. They laugh at me and ignore me and wonder if I’ll ever shut-up.
I don’t tell them I am a foster parent. I don’t say I love them. I don’t promise to make it better. I just stand in the middle of their circle and soak them in.