Note: This is a guest post from Nedhal Al-kazahy, Nebraska Appleseed’s former Child Welfare Youth Fellow.
Hey all, I’m back! As many of yall know, it’s foster care awareness month so let’s talk about foster care. For those of you that have been following my blogs, you know that I was in foster care for 14 years and I have a lot of experience that I want to share.
First, let’s start with the reality that foster care isn’t always bad.
The system has faults just like everything does. Sometimes it’s people that shouldn’t be foster parents, but it doesn’t mean foster care is bad as a whole. One of my favorite memories in foster care is when I was 12, one of the homes took me to Worlds of Fun. There was a Dragon ride that spun fast and I had really long hair so when the ride started spinning super fast all you could see was 5’ me with a black whirlwind around me!
Another great memory I have is being able to go to my foster grandparents’ house in South Dakota for the holidays. That’s a significant memory because for most, there’s a rule that doesn’t allow foster kids to leave the state. Usually, the foster kid will have to stay in a respite home until they come back from vacation. As a kid, it really sucks because you miss out on all the fun and family bonding time and it makes you feel even less a part of the family.
Point being, foster care has its good and bad.
I’m still in contact with at least four of my foster homes. I’m also in two of their family photos. They all tell people I’m their daughter and we make up funny stories of how I’m their daughter since I don’t look like them, without telling people I’m their former foster kid and honestly I love it. It that doesn’t make the conversations lead to how or why I was put in foster care. It doesn’t cause the pity looks that you get when you say “I am a foster kid.”
I am still close with my family.
This doesn’t mean that I still don’t have my biological family because I do. I am close with my family, but these former homes are my family, as well. Just because you get along really well and love and feel like you are a part of your foster family, it in no way means that you’re betraying your biological family and even I have had to learn that.
We can make a difference.
I would like for every former or current foster youth who has had a bad experience in the system, to think of something that made you happy, laugh or smile in your foster homes. We can make a difference for the future foster kids, but we can’t do that if we only think about the bad times, we have to shed some light on the good.