As a child growing up in a broken home, it was extremely hard for me to create and hold onto healthy relationships. Bouncing from parent to parent and town to town made it very difficult to stay in touch with any of the friends that I had in school or any of the families neighboring me.
Until I entered foster care when I was age 12, I had no idea what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like. I was kidnapped from my mom by my dad at the age of five and was released at the age of seven. In those two years I was put through hell. My dad tortured me mentally, physically and emotionally by not allowing me to eat, sleep or use the bathroom. If I was allowed to sleep, I slept on a filthy couch where the dog slept. The "room" my dad and his girlfriend dead-bolted me into was a box-filled storage space with a pair of sliding doors connecting the room next to it. My dad's girlfriend drilled holes in the doors so she could spy on me making sure that I did not sit or lay on the floor.
After two years of the torture, my dad finally returned me to my mom. When I arrived at my mom’s house she was so excited to see me that she would not let me out of her arms. I was just as excited to see her because I was finally away from the abuse; but after just a few good years with my mom, the abuse started again.
My mom became an alcoholic and a prostitute. She would bring home random men on a nightly basis who would verbally abuse me. When she got drunk she would get mad at me and begin throwing objects such as glass cups, forks, knives and anything else she could get her hands on. Luckily, I was able to dodge the objects, but at the age of eleven it was scary. She also had a bad habit of driving under the influence, which caused us to get into multiple car accidents.
Due to my mom's drinking problem she would spend her entire paycheck on alcohol, which resulted in us being evicted from our homes and my mom losing her jobs. After losing our last house, we moved in with one of my sisters. Then, on my birthday, my mom found a trucker and left for California.
Because of the abuse I was put through as a child I was not able to get close to anyone when I entered foster care. I had a lot of issues when it came to trusting anyone I met in my life. It was especially hard for me to trust men since all I went through with my dad was two years of bad experiences.
I remember a conversation I had with my foster mom that involved education when I entered her home at age 12. She was well aware of how unstable my educational situation was growing up and she assured me, unless I chose differently, that I would stay in the same high school all four years. I was very excited to hear this because, as I mentioned before, I had a hard time maintaining relationships due to moving and switching schools so much.
As time went on, my foster mom introduced me to her friends and family. I began trusting people again and was able to feel I wasn’t in danger of losing everything.
I never had the ideal family to look up to; simply meaning a father, mother and some kids. That all changed when my foster mom introduced me to the son of one of her friends when I was about 12. Our relationship grew quickly since we were on the same cycling team and our parents were good friends. We soon became inseparable and would spend quite a bit of time at each others' houses. This is when I began noticing what an ideal family was supposed to look like. I looked up to my best friend’s dad as a male role model. Having that role model really helped me mature into the man I am today. My foster mom always reminds me of this.
Entering foster care required me to create my own family. When people that weren’t aware of my situation would ask about my parents it was difficult for me to disclose that I only had a mother. They would express curiosity and ask the status of my father and I would then discuss my situation as a foster youth.
Creating my family within foster care was surprisingly easy. I quickly became accepting of my situation realizing where I was in life was where I fit best. I was happy, loved, and for once in my life, stable. This was only possible with the support and encouragement I consistently received from my newfound family.
To this day, I consider my foster mom as my mom and my best friend’s family as my own because of the support they have shown me. It has shaped my values and morals, and has heightened my sense of maturity making me the man I am today.
AdoptUSKids is a service of the U.S. Children’s Bureau and has been in operation since 2002 by the Adoption Exchange Association under a cooperative agreement (grant #90CQ0003). The mission of AdoptUSKids is two-fold: to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories, and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children.