Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where Are All Of The Foster Kids?

I am the new kid on the block so I may be missing something.  I see adopters, adoptees, first moms, foster parents, but where are all of the foster kids?  Who is speaking for us?  Yes, I have found some Foster Care Alumni,  but clearly not as many I would have expected or hoped to.

Is it the shame that keeps us quiet? Our parents knew us, looked us in the eyes and decided we were not worth the effort.   Is it the shame of knowing who your parents are and that they just couldn’t get it together enough to see us through?  Is it the continuous rejection and reminders that we are not nearly as important to them as they are to us? 

In the case of my “father" it is the constant reminders that I just am not a part of his “chosen family”. For me it is also the hope.  If I try real hard, if I don’t take things personally, if I play nicely and keep my mouth shut, if I don’t shatter illusions or poke holes in their façade, maybe, just maybe they will keep me around – this time.  But there are always more hoops to jump through, more lines drawn and any appearance of acceptance is illusion.

While reading Elaine’s blog about her “maternal source” I realized that while our experiences are different, her adoption and me from foster care, the hurt and rejection is very similar. 

A few years ago, my youngest step-brother got married.  (My father has said he “adopted” him in a “religious ceremony”, not legally.  My step-brother legally changed his name from his family name to our family name Koffron, at the age of 18.   I can only imagine how his REAL father feels about that.)   My husband and I attended the ceremony.  Afterward I was told I wasn’t needed while the “family” pictures being taken, so I went to nurse my daughter Amélie before the reception.

We returned to the reception and were sat at what we affectionately refer to as the “reject table”.  After dinner was served, the bride and groom, the parents (including his REAL father) were making their rounds, and speaking to guests.  A lovely couple came up to our table and introduced themselves as dear friends of the Koffrons,  Dr. and Mrs. So and So.  (We knew who Dr. and Mrs. So-and-So were because my parents had mentioned him and his wife frequently over the years.  “We went to dinner with…We saw this play with"…you know…)  

And how do you know the Koffrons?  he asks. 
I am Bob’s daughter, Sunday. I say. 
I never knew he had any kids of his own, says the dear friend of the Koffrons. 

This couple had known my dad’s second wife since college, my father for the 30 or so years that they had been married, and the fact that Bob had any kids NEVER came up!  Three lives not worth even mentioning…once in almost 30 years.

And I am the one who feels ashamed?


Lori said...

Sometimes we fosters and formers are simply afraid to make ourselves vulnerable. I know I some ways. Or at least I was. But I refuse to stand up and pretend that I am not who and what I am....

I am a 49 year old foster care survivor. I was never adopted. I was never good enough to keep more than a few months. I was never worthy of anyone...and the social workers made sure I knew that.

I am the REAL mother of my daughter...stolen after a 3 year battle.

I am a widow.

I am me.....Nice to meet you!

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Lorie, I am Sunday (42) and it is nice to meet you. I will not pretend that my life didn’t happen the way it did for anyone’s comfort. (Although it has taken me a while to get here)

I removed the line “is it because we realize that we were not good enough for anyone to want to keep?” Because it still hurts too much. I am so for your losses. I am glad we have found each other.

Just Me said...

Sunday... I think you should "choose" your own family from now on. That was just crappy - you weren't needed for family photos? You were sat at the rejects table? You are constantly reminded that you are not a part of who your father chooses to think of as family so start treating them the same. Isn't that the golden rule? Do unto others as you'd have done to you? And if they don't like it, just tell them that you're only following their example.

I know - much easier said than done. Hugs to you...

Amy Koffron said...

How typical of Bob and Paulette. I don't hold any of my step-brothers responsible for how their mother used them a pawns to hurt us or their own father. I care for them in-spite the fact that they have been used like weapons, as only Paulette can do.

Jodi said...

I'm a proctor mom (it's foster care, but for kids in drug rehab). I love that I found a blog by a foster kid! I like hearing your perspective. I wish more foster kids would blog about their experiences. I've had 11 teenagers, from 14-18, go through my home in the past two years. One stayed a week before she ran away to Mexico, one stayed a year, the others were all somewhere in between.I love these kids. I want to know how to help them feel loved and appreciated. How can I do that?

Sunday Kofffon Taylor said...

Jodi! Big hugs! That is the million dollar question and I commend you for asking it. After all we are all doing what we do for the kids. I wish I had the answer!
So often they get lost in the shuffle of parental angst and adult agendas. When kids or formers (foster kids, adoptees and so forth) speak the walls go up and the eyes glaze over. I personally don't think it is because adults don't care, but rather that they feel uncomfortable and hopeless. Everyone wants to believe that they have done and are doing the best they can. With honest evaluation there is always room for improvement and a chance to make things better for the kids we are trying to serve.

My big thing is that kids are kids first and labels only apply (if at all) after that, foster, adopted, ADD, drug addict, alcoholic and so forth. I think we compound issues when we attribute kid stuff to labels and labels to kid stuff.

Von said...

That's shit Sunday!!I can't believe the callousness and the disregard for your feelings.x

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