Foster Care Survivors | We love differently

6/29/2017

Foster Care Survivors • I think it's time we tell our stories and stop allowing other people to tell it for us.

I mentor former Foster Care survivors transitioning into college and the professional world. I understand the struggles they faced and the issues they may encounter in their future endeavors. As I was talking to another survivor they asked me, "What issues have you carried into your relationships? What are you doing now to cope the abuse you suffered? and What do your partners think when you tell them "your story"? "

We all have a story that changed how we viewed ourselves and others. 
Here's one of mine:

I was sitting in class, while in graduate school, and we were having a discussion on social issues. The topic of foster care came up. My professor discussed a few issues that foster youth deal with and one was relationships.

I agreed with the feelings of moving from place to place, having to change locations often, and the treatment of foster kids as students in the school system. My friend and classmate turned me and said, "your experience isn't the same because your Aunt and Uncle raised you."

I turned to her and said, "being ripped away from my mother, a drug addict, and my siblings having been placed in various homes was similar. I was placed in various homes until my parents took me in and that is the same experience. Having visits with a social worker every other month was the same. Having scheduled and supervised visits with my mom and siblings were real! The abandonment and dealing with the child abuse is the same thing."


My parents didn't make my child abuse any less real. They didn't wipe away the sins of my mother and father and they never tried to replace them. The fact was and remained that, I was a foster child. My aunt never let me call her mom, she said you have a mom, and she didn't want me to forget that. I was reminded of that often. My parents didn't save me...they told me I had to do that myself. They couldn't remove the memories but they could alleviate the pain.

Instead, they "parented" me and for that I'm super grateful.

When loving a Foster Care Survivor know that you may deal with these things:

This does not make us any less lovable or make us bad people for not overcoming every single issue listed below. We all have struggles its just ours are more prevalent because of what we're experienced. We don't expect our partners to sympathize with us but if they don't understand our struggles the least they can do is respect it.

The difference between a normal person and a foster care survivor is that we were introduced to our issues very early in life therefore, we know how to problem solve and find our way without the help of others. We wont turn down help unless need be. We have turned our struggles into something called resiliency and we pass that knowledge on to everyone we meet. We have seen the worst that world has to offer and raised to the occasion to become some of best of what the world needed.


Issues some Foster Survivors deal with in relationships:

  • Most foster youth suffer from emotional distress i.e. PTSD or depression. We ask questions like, what does stability look like? What would my life be like if both of my biological parents would have raised me? What would my relationship with my siblings have been? We will questions of our partners often and frequent. It will cause us to question if we're worthy of unconditional love because all we've gotten is conditional love.
  • We don't trust easily after being hurt. It takes us a long time to heal because we don't like making bad choices.
  • We have a fear of abandonment because at one time we were. Sometimes people in our lives highlighted the fact we were, whether it be intentional or unintentional.
  • Our communication is either extremely aggressive or extremely delayed.
  • We sometimes we love you and sometimes we don't. There really is no in between. This due to our emotional availability.
  • We need constant validation and reassurance. We get anxiety if a person doesn't speak our love language. We can spot a bad connection quicker because of these things.
  • We can be self harming in may different ways ie cutting, addictions, sexually compensating, negative self talk, etc.
  • We may be physically aggressive toward other people or animals. We have mood swings.
  • We're sensitive to people who talk loud or over us when we're vulnerable.
  • We  run away from conflict by ignoring people instead of addressing the issue.
  • We don't know how to accept compliments because of our experience with emotional abuse.
  • We apologize a lot even if we're not wrong because we're use to being bullied by others.



Here's a better list of persons: 5-17 years old but know, some Foster Care Survivors will carry these things into adulthood.

Ages 5 and younger: may fear being separated from a parent, crying, whimpering, screaming, immobility and/or aimless motion, trembling, frightened facial expressions, and excessive clinging. May regress—return to behaviors exhibited at earlier ages (e.g., bed-wetting, fear of darkness). Children of this age are strongly affected by the parents’ reactions to the traumatic event.

Ages 6 to 11: may show extreme withdrawal, disruptive behavior, and/or inability to pay attention. Regressive behaviors, nightmares, sleep problems, irrational fears, irritability, refusal to attend school, angry outbursts, and fighting are common. The child may complain of stomachaches or other bodily symptoms that have no medical basis. Schoolwork often suffers. Depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt, and emotional numbing or “flatness” are often present as well.

Ages 12 to 17: may exhibit responses similar to those of adults, including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, depression, substance abuse, problems with peers, and antisocial behavior. Also common are withdrawal and isolation, physical complaints, suicidal thoughts, school avoidance, academic decline, sleep disturbances, and confusion. May feel extreme guilt over his or her failure to prevent injury or loss of life and may harbor revenge fantasies that interfere with recovery.
Source:https://fosteringperspectives.org/fp_v10n1/trauma.htm 

ADVICE |

Don't allow these things to become toxic to your relationship with others or yourself.

Recognize unhealthy habits such as being jealous, extreme expectations *mind reading,* overthinking, passive aggressive actions, dependency, chronic change, and isolation.

QUESTIONS ANSWERED |

"What issues have you carried into your relationships? 

Some of the things listed above have shown up but at various times in different ways, and I've learned to channel those issues into positive outcomes. Either I talk to my shrink, my very close friends, or I pray. Journaling is also a very useful tool.

What are you doing now to cope with the abuse you suffered? 

I volunteer as a mentor and that helps me learn from others what they do. I do A LOT of self-care things. I have a hobby that includes reading books, DIY home decor, exercise, blogging, and most importantly fellowship with God.

What do your partners think when you tell them "your story"? "

Let's get into what makes them ask first. It's the questions of, "What are your parents like?" and then I explain that my Aunt and Uncle raised me. Then they see the noticeably large scar on my back or the unique ones on my thigh. I try my best not to discuss it right away by saying, "we'll get there to that discussion at one point." I feel "my story" always has to be earned. It's such an emotional story and every guy I date might not be up for the details. I respect the men who do ask and take the time to respect that it's very much a part of who I am and what I strive to become. I don't expect every guy to understand it just respect it.



I think as a former foster youth I'm always learning. We teach people how to treat us. Once you feel more comfortable with yourself and you don't mind showing people who you are. If they don't like who you are then you'll feel comfortable showing them the door.

I use to believe that because I was unemotionally available, I didn't deserve love, or I wouldn't find it because of all the issues I had to overcome. NOT TRUE. The truth is I deserve what I give and if I show up every day and bring my best self then, someone of value will see that and earn the love I have to give them.

We love differently but that doesn't mean someone can't love us. My parents loved me through the hardest times of my life. My aunt said, "well you let us love you so you have to give yourself some credit."

I'm not ashamed of what happened to me. I'm still learning how to tell my story.

I hope this inspired anyone out there who is a Foster Care Survivor or someone who loves us.

Best wishes,


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This blog is NOT geared toward sexual orientation or gender classification. This blog is based solely on the blog authors experience and research. This blog is geared toward promoting a mixture of masculine and feminine attire and with an integrated genderless lifestyle.

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