The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

Email Newsletter icon
Follow us on:
Share Youth Communication Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
Follow Represent on Facebook Follow Represent on YouTube Follow Represent on Twitter
Ready to Fight
Anger became a habit in my last foster home

When I moved into my first foster home, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I missed my parents and it’s always hard adjusting to strangers. I just hoped that life with my foster mother, Linda, her husband, Andrew, and their son, Tommy, might not be too bad.

At the time, I was very scared. I was only 9 and I didn’t even know why I couldn’t live with my parents anymore. Not understanding why we were separated made me feel nervous and sad.

The day I met my foster parents, they seemed OK. We went out to restaurants for every meal and played mini-golf. Still, I did not want to live with strangers who I didn’t know at all and who knew nothing about me, not even what I liked or didn’t like to eat. Going to their home felt like being reborn.

Andrew was calm. He was a police officer and joked with me. We boxed together, watched baseball, basketball, and boxing and had a lot in common.

But Linda was always angry and yelling. She blamed me for things I did not do and screamed at me for little things like, “Why are your clothes on the bedroom floor?” instead of asking me to pick them up. Whenever Linda had a bad day or was tired, it seemed she took her frustrations out on me.

Linda also hurt my feelings by bringing up my parents when we got in arguments. She called them “alcoholics” and “drug addicts,” and said, “They don’t know how to take care of their children.” She knew I loved my parents and her comments made me angry.

I think we fought so much because the rules and expectations in their home were different from what I’d gotten used to with my parents. My parents never really punished me if I got into trouble in school, and I didn’t have to cook, clean, dust, mop, sweep, go to the store and the whole nine. But my foster parents expected all that, and if I messed up, they yelled at me, which I wasn’t used to either.

I wished my foster parents would’ve gone easy on me at first. After all, I was not used to living without my parents, and I was often sad. Instead of trying to understand what I was going through and help me out, the pressure to conform to their family just made it worse.

A couple of months after I moved there, I told my social worker that I did not want to stay there anymore. She told me it might take a month or so for her to find me a new home, and I thought, “OK.”

But that night when I got back home Linda refused to serve me food when everyone else was eating. “You don’t live in my house anymore so I am not feeding you,” she said.

Later I tried to hop in my bed to go to sleep. Linda said, “Why are you getting in a bed that I paid for?”

“This is the bed that you gave me to sleep in.”

“But you’re not going to be living here anymore,” she said.

I waited about an hour and then begged her to let me sleep in my bed. Finally, she said yes.

I did not tell my social worker or my therapist that Linda tried to punish me for wanting to move, and about a week later I told them that life at Linda’s was better, even though it was worse. I lied because the agency had still not found me a new home and I was afraid Linda would get meaner.

I was also nervous that the next place I went could be worse. Linda told me that if I left her house, the agency would put me in a group home, and I feared that because I’d heard about kids in group homes fighting and stealing your stuff. So I stayed.

Living in that home gave me a lot of anger, and my anger changed me. I got so used to being treated badly that I felt like fighting and arguing all the time. My education was affected, because all my anger built up in my body and I would take it out on kids and teachers in school.

Soon I wasn’t following the rules at home or at school. I was disrespecting authority because I knew Linda didn’t care about me when she made the rules, and I didn’t think my teachers did, either. When we met with the social worker, Linda put everything on my back, saying I was disrespectful, rude, nasty, and persistent to win a battle. I can’t lie. Sometimes I was.

To cope with my anger I would play basketball or baseball, or box with my friends. My friends were fun and made me laugh whenever I was angry or sad. On rainy days, I went in their houses and we watched movies and freestyled.

But the longer I stayed at Linda’s, the more I was cut off from my friends and everyone I loved. Linda punished me by telling me I couldn’t hang out with my friends. When my family called, she would tell them, “He is not home” when I was. She told my brother not to call her house.

That made me really angry. I would get four quarters and go to a pay phone just to talk to them. Using my own money to call my family when there was a phone in the house made me mad, too.

image by Gamal Jones

I felt trapped and imprisoned. I wanted to run away but decided not to because then I would not be able to finish school and wouldn’t have a future. Since junior high school, I’ve been 100% sure I am going to college. By staying in care, I could get help paying for college and eventually have a good career. Even during my worst times at Linda’s, I stayed on the honor roll.

Then, three months after I turned 16, Linda put me out of the house herself. That day, Linda punished me for having talked in my science class by saying I couldn’t go outside. I started playing a handheld video game, but she snatched it away. We argued.

I said to myself, “I cannot take this anymore” and walked out.

An hour later I came back to find four police cars and an ambulance at my house. The place looked like a murder scene. The ambulance people were there to see if I was psycho, and Linda was telling them I was out of control. After my foster father flipped his badge to the cops to show them he was one, too, I knew no one would listen to me.

I went to a different foster home that night. I had stayed with the foster mother, a lady named Ms. Daniels, once before when Linda went to a family reunion I wasn’t invited to. During that time, I had really liked her.

Ms. Daniels had told me she only takes in younger kids, so I thought I’d be moving on soon. But after a week she told me, “You don’t seem like a bad kid, so I’ll keep you.”

I was really happy. Ms. Daniels let me listen to rap and put up posters of my favorite hip hop artists in my room. She also let me talk to and see my family whenever I wanted. Ms. Daniels didn’t lie to me, go through my things or say mean things about my parents.

When Ms. Daniels took me with her on vacation to North Carolina to meet her family, a lady pointed to me and asked Ms. Daniels, “Who is that?”

“He’s one of my kids,” Ms. Daniels said.

I really felt really happy when Ms. Daniels said that. Linda always called me her “foster son.”

But Ms. Daniels and I have arguments, too, and that worries me. Some of Ms. Daniels’ rules are hard for me to follow, like bedtime and curfew. She wants me home by 7 p.m. and in bed by 10:30 p.m. Those times are way too early for a 16-year-old! I try to follow her rules, but sometimes I don’t, which gets her angry.

Other times I’m sneaky about breaking the rules. If Ms. Daniels tells me, “Go to bed,” I’ll ask, “Can I finish watching this baseball game and go to bed in 15 minutes?”

The times when she says “No” I will be really angry but try not to show it. I go to my room and watch the game on my own, smaller TV with the volume on really low. One night, she caught me. She just walked over, pressed the “off” button on the TV and walked out.

Then, a few nights ago, Ms. Daniels told me to get off the phone. When I didn’t, she unplugged the jack from the wall. I walked out to finish my conversation with my mother, who lives around the corner, and didn’t come back until 10 p.m. Ms. Daniels was mad and told me I couldn’t use the phone for two weeks.

I don’t want our relationship to get bad, and it seems like it is starting to a little bit. I want to listen to her and respect her, but I’m not sure I know how. I got so used to fighting that now I am having a hard time not fighting and arguing.

I know Ms. Daniels is different from Linda, but I don’t know how to act differently than I did at Linda’s, where I felt like I was fighting an enemy.

Now that I see how much it’s affected me to build up my anger in that home, I wish I had spoken up earlier. I wish I’d realized that a good home was waiting just around the corner, and I was wasting time and developing bad habits in the five years I spent with Linda.

I also wish my social worker had kept it confidential when I spoke up, or that she had been able to take me out of the home as soon as I told her there was a problem. I wish she had asked me in confidence if I was still having problems there. Even though I changed my story to protect myself, I think she should’ve seen that Linda and I were not getting along at all.

I want to stay with Ms. Daniels because I feel she respects me, and this makes me want to try to learn how to respect her. I’m trying to learn a new way of dealing with a foster parent, and to remember that she’s not making rules to hurt me. I’m talking to my therapist and social worker about my problems keeping to her rules so this home can work out.

Even my therapist told me, “You look much happier now.”

I told her, “I am.”

horizontal rule

Visit Our Online Store