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City College Times

Foster care and abandonment

SHAYLAH O’HARA, GUEST WRITER

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The baggage that remains.

 

I had always felt that my
mother did not want me. While
she had several opportunities to
get me back by simply providing
a few clean drug tests, she
was unable to do so.
I tell myself that I ended up
in the foster care system due to
her addiction and that she did
not intentionally choose drugs
over me; while I do believe that,
it still hurts.
I got stuck with staff as parent
figures; staff not properly
trained to deal with “troubled
youth.” Troubled? Me? I was
taken from my mom due to her
use of drugs, her abuse and neglect,
and the system called me
troubled.
I would run away, right back
to my mom—despite how mean
and crazy she was; I just wanted
my mom and every time we
would pick up right where we
left off—in complete chaos.
The cops would either find me
or she would call them on me
and they would take me back to
the children’s shelter.
In these facilities, I was given
no room to be a kid or to make
mistakes. I wasn’t learning
anything conducive to living a
healthy life. I had so many obvious
issues that needed to be
addressed—such as abandonment,
trauma, depression—but
nobody cared enough or knew
enough to consider that I was
acting out because I had been
abandoned by my mother.
Instead, I was given a look
of disgust, treated like a delinquent,
restrained and put on
high doses of sedatives.
I was not placed in a foster
home or with a foster family. I
was placed in institutions that
smelled and looked like mental
hospitals. I could never settle in
and get comfortable. It was not
a home. Living out of big black
plastic trash bags, I had nowhere
to go, no structure, no future
and no place to call home.
Drugs became my only friend.
I became my mother. I did all
of the same patterns, the ones I
said I would never have. I was
living a miserable existence. I
was not living. I was in a constant
state of fear, which I expressed
through anger, rage and
destruction. I was a tornado.
I aged out of the foster “care”
system at the age of 18 years old
and was thrown into a world as
if I was thrown into an ocean
but never taught to swim.
I am 28 years old now and
I’ve spent a majority of these
past 10 years trying to learn
how to keep my head above the
water, gasping my way through
life.
I hate the system, it funnels
children from broken homes
into institutions—most commonly
jails.
I feel I am so behind in life.
There are skills that I feel I
should know—such as balancing
a checkbook, opening a
bank account, filing taxes, loving
freely, trusting others and
believing in myself.
Who was supposed to teach
me this? These places should
be helping prepare children for
their future.
I wish I could go back in time
with the information I have now
and advocate for myself; that
vulnerable little girl who only
wanted a place to call home.

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The student news site of San Jose City College
Foster care and abandonment