Just the Beginning of My Chapter - How Adoption Changed My Life
Authors: Raquel F.
At the early age of six, I was separated from my siblings and entered the foster care system due to drug use, sexual abuse and neglect. All I could ever dream and think of is I didn’t want to live my life the way I saw my whole family live –in an all-around dysfunctional household.
My mother supposedly cleaned herself up and we were reunited with her maybe a year or so after being in the system. Things seemed ok until she relapsed. But at the age of eight I understood things a little better, like knowing sexual abuse wasn’t normal and not everyone did that to their loved ones. Going days without eating was normal and having our electricity and heat cut off in the middle of the winter was also nothing new. I just knew there had to be a better life out there for myself and my siblings.
This forced me to grow up at a young age because I had to take care of myself and my three younger siblings. I didn’t really know what a childhood was and I didn’t really care because I knew my brother and two sisters needed me and I needed them too.
My aunt took custody of us and soon became our second mom and I was grateful for that. At that time, I rarely saw or heard from my parents because they were out in the streets. Things didn’t last long with my aunt either because drugs soon became something we saw our family members do on a regular basis. I knew I had to choose a better path for myself as soon as possible.
In our new foster home, the four of us were lucky to be placed together. We lived with an older couple that got us involved in the church and that was different but I liked it. I didn’t call them mom or dad because even though my parents were far from perfect they still brought me into the world.
At that time, I was angry at the world and everyone around me so I left my siblings and ran away. Little did I know, the chaos was just beginning. I was not taken back with open arms and I soon realized I had to fend for myself. I had a long year and a half of being homeless waking up to figure out how I was going to get my next meal.
I was drained and tired of living this way and couldn’t quite understand how my family lived this way for so long. I would always say to myself there has to be something better in this world than this life style.
My saving grace came as a curfew violation that led to the police department figuring out I was a run away. I ended up in a foster home in Barberton -a neighboring suburb of Akron, planning to run away one night but decided not to because something seemed right about this foster mom. She was sweet and genuine and I could just feel her good energy, something at fourteen I caught onto quickly since I was so street savvy. I took a liking to her and told myself I was going to make this all that I could by finishing school and going to college.
More good fortune came my way when I learned that my siblings were adopted by a family in Berea, Ohio AND they wanted to adopt me too. I wasn’t so sure at first because I had already gotten comfortable with my Barberton foster mom.
After many scheduled visits in Berea, I knew that this was my final destination after bouncing around foster homes and being with strangers I didn’t even know. Fortunately this time, I was finally able to be reunited with my three siblings. I knew I had a lot of work to do, with all the built-up anger and hate I had for the world.
It took a while to get on my siblings good side because they were upset that I ran away without telling them and just left them. It was hard learning how to be a sister to them and not the mother figure, something I had been for so long but I knew I could finally relax and be a fourteen year old girl and worry about kid things. My adopted parents gave us everything we could ask for and more. This is the life I had always longed for and dreamt about at nights when I was out on the streets. These angels that were brought into our lives were meant to be.
Being in the foster care system changed my life in so many ways. The Division of Children and Family Services never gave up looking for me when I went AWOL as they called it. I was lucky to have a social worker supervisor that wanted nothing but the best for me and treated me as a young adult instead of an unruly troubled foster kid. I have a handful of people to thank that I crossed paths with along my journey. Some were simply there to come and go and others were meant to stay and make memories with of my newfound beginning.
I stay in touch with my adopted parents and never refer to them as my adopted parents. My mother taught me all the ways to be a young lady with self-respect and morals and standards in life and to never settle for anything, which I don’t plan on doing. This is just the beginning of my chapter!
For more information on how to become a foster or adoptive parent to a loving child, teen and/or sibling group, visit www.cfs.cuyahogacounty.us or call 216-881-5775.