My Experience As A Foster Kid

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PANEL 1 – AUTHOR is a young girl looking through a crack in the door in a long, dark hallway.
CAPTION: I am from a dysfunctional home.
PANEL 2 – A close up of the back of the AUTHOR’s head
PANEL 3 – We see the AUTHOR’s expression from the other side of the door, she looks terrified.
PANEL 4 – We see the entire room on the other side of the door – there is an adult splayed across a couch, with random drug paraphernalia in front, and dirty dishes on the ground.
CAPTION: Drug addition came with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
PANEL 5 – CAPTION: But I didn’t grow up in that home…
PANEL 6 – CAPTION: I went through four different foster homes…
PANEL 7-10 – AUTHOR is a child, leaving a house, but the same scene is repeated 4 times as she grows up. By the fourth panel she is a teen.
PANEL 11 – AUTHOR’s friend looks enthusiastic
CAPTION: My classmates used to say things like:
AUTHOR’s Friend: You’re so lucky! I wish I could get away from MY parents!
PANEL 12 – Black background, just text.
CAPTION: “Lucky”…?
PANEL 13 – AUTHOR looking on as friends walk down the street with a blanket and a teddy bear for a sleepover.
CAPTION: I couldn’t do sleepovers…
PANEL 14 – AUTHOR in a psychiatrist’s office, looking unhappy.
CAPTION: I was obligated to see a psychiatrist
PANEL 15 – A social worker is talking to AUTHOR.
CAPTION: I didn’t know where I’d b next week, or who I’d be with.
Social Worker: We’re moving you to a different foster home.
PANEL 16 – AUTHOR is packing her bags in an empty room.
CAPTION: I had no friends.
PANEL 17 – AUTHOR is standing in a room, with tall dark, adult figures towering over her.
CAPTION: As I got older, the assumptions set in…
PANEL 18 – The dark adult figures are shown, and they are talking amongst themselves.
ADULT 1: She’s going to end up in jail.
ADULT 2: Is she addicted to drugs yet?
ADULT 3: Probably going to drop out soon.
ADULT 4: Another failure continuing the cycle.
PANEL 19 – AUTHOR is holding her head in exasperation
CAPTION: None of my other classmates were told that they would be a failure in life from all the adults who were supposed to take care of them…
PANEL 19-20 – Just text
CAPTION: But then I found a forever home with people I would learn to lovingly call my “grandparents”.
PANEL 21 – AUTHOR is signing a book.
PANEL 22 – AUTHOR gets hugged by a friend.
CAPTION – No jail time
PANEL 23 – AUTHOR hands the book back to her friend, and they are both wearing graduation robes
CAPTION – Not even detention!
PANEL 24 – AUTHOR puts on a graduation cap, and the book she signed says “year book”. Another friend is coming up from behind.
CAPTION: And definitely no drugs!
FRIEND – Sign mine too!
PANEL 25 – AUTHOR is amongst her classmates, and they are all throwing their cap into the air.
CAPTION – I am not scared. I will not fall into “the cycle”. I won’t let my past determine my future.

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I came from a dysfunctional home of drug addiction, which went along with emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a young child. But I didn’t finish growing up in that home.

I went through 4 foster homes from the ages of 10-14 before finding my “Forever Home”.

I remember hearing my peers in middle school saying things like “You’re so lucky! I wish I could just get away from my parents!” But that’s such an ignorant mindset. A lot of people dont understand the lack of control you have as a ward of the state. Conversations in which a friend would ask me over just proved how different I was. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

I couldn’t do sleep overs.

I was basically contractually obligated to go to a psychologist.

I had no control over being put on medication,

no control over where I lived,

or who I was with.

I had no friends, I only saw people in my age group when I was at school or with my foster sisters, who I never got along with.

It was bad enough that I couldn’t control things, but it was worse that I had to explain that the reason I couldn’t do things was because I was a foster kid.  It made me different, and the other kids didn’t understand.

And then as I got older, there was the stigma.  The lack of any knowledge about foster care turned into a set of assumptions.  I had social workers, my own mother, foster parents and just general grownups around me telling me what my future was.

Jail. Drugs. Teen Pregnancy. GED. I was told the cycle would continue. None of my friends, who were living with their biological families, were told what they would become.  But I was.

But after I found my forever home with the people I lovingly call my grandparents, I excelled.This is where my path diverged from the one everyone had predicted for me. 3.0 GPA. No disciplinary actions at school or otherwise. No drugs. No teen pregnancy. And definitely no GED!
No… I graduated high school with my diploma and my Associates Transfer Degree in the Arts. All at the fine age of 17.

I am now engaged to a wonderful nerdy metalhead who is also an artist. He loves me, he treats me well and I am never scared of us falling into what they call “the cycle.” I was different, and others didn’t understand my life, but I didn’t let my past determine my future.

Comic illustrated by Rachael Smith

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