I have been in eight different homes and this is my experience with the child welfare system. I want child abuse and neglect to end within the child welfare system. Child abuse happens every day and the child will grow up with long-lasting trauma. My very first placement was in Atwater, California, with my biological brother where the single foster mother abused me physically. I still have the burn mark scars on my right hand where my foster mother burned me with a curling iron because I went to the bathroom late at night and I wasn’t supposed to. When I look at my hand I am reminded of the trauma she caused me. I was only 3 years old and my little brother was 1 years old. My foster mother often went out and left us home alone. There were a total of 10 children in her home at the time.
Post-foster care my brother has developed some extreme addictions. Not only is he on drugs, but he is also homeless and does not want to come around my biological family because he has told me that it makes him feel like he is an embarrassment to the family and feels like he’s overstepping. Fortunately for me, my last placement was having my own apartment under extended foster care Assembly Bill 12. My placement was in a Supervised Independent Living Placement. Once I turned 21, I got my very own apartment by myself that I was managing responsibly.
Having a long-lasting relationship is crucial for human development! Imagine a foster child jumping from home to home 20 times per year starting at age 8 until the child hits 18. That is a total of 180 different homes that child will be in 160 placements by the time that child becomes an adult. This causes many different mental and physical issues. For example, some people like to self-harm by cutting themselves thinking that he or she is relieving the numbness and pain inside of him or herself. To add, a person may start developing depression or feel like he or she isn’t wanted. As humans we are all craving human connections and to be loved by different people besides ourselves.
Foster care was created to be a short-term solution! So, why is foster care becoming a long-term solution that is creating long-lasting illnesses for young innocent children? Something needs to change to improve the health of these youth. I am proposing that a match making application be created like Tinder, for example, to match potential resource parents with a foster child. Only resource parents that are licensed and have passed a background check will be on the application. The child can write his or her interests and background information and the potential parent can do the same.
Now, at 24 years old, I wish this application would have been discovered while I was in foster care because this would have made my foster care experience better in the long run. I have different mental health issues including anxiety, PTSD and depression from my time in foster care. For example, when a male taller than me raises his hand I start crying because I believe I am going to get physically abused. I want to hide, isolate myself and be alone. I hope others can avoid having these experiences.
Fast forward to today, I am a homeowner, I own three cars, I am financially responsible, breaking generational cycles/curses and I am a first-time mother breaking patterns so my son doesn’t grow up with mental illnesses like myself.