Thought Catalog

4 Things You’ll Only Understand If You Grew Up In Foster Care

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Kate Williams

1. You’re expected to fail.

When you were child in foster care, the odds were stacks against you. Among other things, foster kids are three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Not to mention that foster care is traumatic as hell. Developing brains don’t cope well with trauma, and future issues tend to arise. Most experts agree that children are most successful when they’re raised in supportive, loving families. So when that family dynamic is missing altogether, people tend to give up on you. It’s a strange phenomenon. It’s likely because most people can’t imagine not having their families. Frustrated social workers drop like flies, and teachers stop asking you how your weekend was.

2. Parents are impossible to replace.

A lot of foster parents might have encouraged you to call them “mom” or “dad”. But unless you entered the system super early in life, it felt mostly awkward. You’d never be able to forget the parent(s) that raised you, no matter how dysfunctional your family life was. Your foster mom might have cooked you dinner every night, but your real mother put you in the center of her universe. Your foster dad might have bought you a new video game, but your real father carried you on his shoulders until you were six.

3. Loneliness is inevitable.

When you come from a broken home, it’s the only home you know. Everything else is foreign. A functional environment can be jarring. You became skeptical of everything. Every friendly gesture was suspicious. Every home cooked meal could’ve had an ulterior motive. It’s hard to trust the people that took away your family. It was hard to trust anyone, after a while. No one would tell you what was happening with your situation. You would be tossed from house to house without any explanation at all. Eventually, you’d start coming up with your own theories. You were constantly confused, wondering what you did wrong. You’d start to withdraw. It’s the loneliest feeling imaginable.

4. Love is so incredibly powerful.

It’s is the most basic human need. Love nourishes children, helping them grow and flourish to their full potential. No matter how defiant or withdrawn they are, children want to be loved. They need to be loved. When a child doesn’t have an affectionate family environment, life can be tricky. Self-worth can be hazy. Which is a big reason why some children are put into the system in the first place. It’s so isolating being emotionally neglected by your family. Foster care aims to provide kids with an environment that’s ultimately beneficial. Often, it’d be hard to find a foster family that you’d “click” with. But when and if you did, it changed everything. Every once in a while, you would come across a family that truly cared about your well-being. A family that wanted to give you the world. And that feeling of validity, of love, is all you needed to stick out your chin, and march forward. And once you were tossed into another crowded home, that feeling would stick with you. Because as a foster kid, you cherished every ounce of love you could carry. TC mark

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