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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Why I'm Better Off in Foster Care
Angela R.

Going into foster care was a nightmare come true. My mother had always made it my worst fear. She told me horrible things about it and I was more scared to be separated from her than anything in the world.

The first time I went into foster care I was eight years old. My mother and I were living in a homeless shelter at the time. She wasn’t taking care of me right, so I went into a foster home. A few months passed, then my father got out of jail. He found out that I was in a foster home and began to visit me.

I was so happy that I didn’t care about my father’s drug addictions. I also completely blocked out the fact that he had molested me when I was seven years old. All I saw was my chance to get out of foster care and to have a real family.

It took a while, but the C.W.A. finally let me go back to live with my father and his new wife. My father tried to force a mother-daughter relationship on us too fast. It ended up causing friction. He also began molesting me again. I felt dirty and I hated myself. I began to hate the rest of the world for all of my problems.

My father signed me into a mental hospital when I was 14. I was put in the teenage ward because I was depressed and not going to school.

The night before I went to the hospital, my father told me not to tell anyone that he had sexually abused me. I really wanted to believe that the abuse wasn’t making me miserable, although it was. It’s sad that my father brainwashed me into saying what he wanted me to say and feeling what he wanted me to feel.

Being in the hospital was safe and relaxing. It was unlike anything I ever felt before.

I got up enough nerve to tell my roommate what my dad was doing to me, but I made her promise not to tell anyone. My roommate told me to tell my therapist, but I wouldn’t listen.

I began to feel depressed again, because I knew that I would have to go back home in a couple of weeks.

Every day in the hospital we had community meetings for everyone on the floor. We discussed our problems and told the rest of the group what was going on in our lives. You could say anything you wanted to say in the community meetings.

One girl began to talk about her brother sexually abusing her. I knew if I talked about my situation, I would be safe. I wouldn’t have to worry about my father coming after me. I didn’t care about him abandoning me either, because now I had people on my side who were stronger than he was.

At one community meeting I got up enough courage to come out with the abuse. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to do it.

image by Terrell Perkins

My arms and chest went heavy when the staff asked if anyone had something else to say. I couldn’t raise my hand or open my mouth to speak. My body went numb.

Somehow I managed to raise my hand. When I was called on and before I could speak, I broke down and cried. I had never really cried about the abuse before. I threw the words out from my chest, crying hysterically like a baby.

It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it changed my life. I decided not to even try to work things out at home. I agreed to be put into residential treatment.

Being away from my family made my whole life easier. I still had the depression and self-hatred, but at least I now had staff and therapists who would listen to me.

I was given chores and a bed time. For the first time I ate meals at the table, with other people. At home I always ate dinner alone, which was usually something that I could pop in the microwave, because my parents were never there.

Whenever I needed someone to talk to, staff were there most of the time.

For the first time I was being listened to, without getting hit if someone didn’t agree with me. When I lived with my parents, they were too busy telling me their problems. They thought that I shouldn’t have problems because I was just a kid.

I adjusted to the rules well, because I liked the way the rules made me feel safe. I never had any structure in my life before. Foster care gave me a lot of structure, which is what I needed.

Now, a lot of times I feel like breaking the rules because I’ve had a lot of structure for the last year. Sometimes it feels like the staff enjoy putting me on restriction or taking money from my allowance. It’s like they get off on controlling my life. I have to admit that this is how I feel when I don’t get my way.

But I know that the staff are enforcing the rules because they care. Sometimes they’ll take out their own problems on you. Some just haven’t got the training to know how to deal with us. But in my group home, that doesn’t seem to be a problem.

I’m not gonna lecture you about how you should respect staff and follow all the rules. I just feel that foster care can be a good experience for some kids. The rules are designed to protect you and give you structure. If you have a problem following those rules, it’s probably because you weren’t getting enough structure at home.

If I didn’t go into foster care, I would still be back home, living miserably with my parents. I would be much worse off because I wouldn’t have dealt with my problems. I would be praying for my father to have an overdose, because back then that was the only way I saw out of my pain.

I’m much happier living in foster care. Even if I had the chance, I would never go back home to my family. The group home I’m in now is my real home.

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