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

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Get Me Outta Here!
Miguel Ayala
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When I entered my first group home, I was scared. I thought that a group home was like was an orphanage, and I half expected nuns to come out with rulers and start busting ass.

There were no nuns, but I could tell right away that my group home was trouble. I knew it from the way the residents sat making noise on the house porch while smoking cigarettes with complete disregard for the neighborhood or house rules. (One of the rules was, “Do not sit in front of the house.”)

Still, I thought at first that I’d do OK there. The residents and I would watch TV, lift weights, and have friendly boxing matches. But it was through those boxing matches that everyone found out I was soft and that I would not fight back even when I was getting hit. Soon I was getting choked out by residents and was getting my stuff stolen by them as well. It made me feel like I was at home getting abused by my mom, and I was very scared.

image by Karolina Zaniesienko

After a while I was thinking, “Why do I have to live with a bunch of teens who bully me? Why can’t I be in a foster home? Why won’t someone adopt me, take me into his or her home?”

Even after all I’ve been through in a family environment, I still need to be in a family setting where I can get love from adults. The love you get from a parent is different from the love you get from a child care worker or group home staff. In my group home, I was not being hugged and kissed goodnight like I was used to, and that made me sad.


I knew I couldn’t live with my mom and that was cool, but I didn’t think I got the attention I needed for my depression, anger, or suicidal thoughts in a group home. And the drugs, fights, and stealing that went down every day made me feel like I was about to explode. I often wonder whether, if I lived with a family, I could have avoided the time I AWOLed for an entire summer, or whether I would not have attempted suicide three times.

image by Ed Marquez

Maybe with a family I wouldn’t be under so much stress, and the attention I would get would give me a sense of worth. Maybe being with a small family would help me cope with my problems and help me feel normal.

Again and again I told my social worker I wanted to get put in a foster home or be adopted. She understood why—she knew how the residents teased me and how once they trashed my room and destroyed everything I had, including my cell phone. Still, all my social worker would say was that they were working on finding me a better home. Hearing that response all the time began driving me mad.

Sometimes, to calm down, I imagine a life away from the group home. I imagine getting adopted into a home that has only the good things of all the places I’ve ever lived. I picture a white picket fence, a two-story house, and a yellow door with three mirrors on each side. I imagine wind chimes and a porch. I imagine a mom and a dad, a dog, and two other kids—a boy and a girl. I picture us all in the house, preparing Sunday dinner.

Maybe it wouldn’t be like that. Maybe my social worker thinks that if I got in a foster home I’d be disappointed there, too. But I still think I’d be better off with a family than where I am now.

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(NYC-2003-09-12c)

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