Friday, April 8, 2011

There is Hope

photo credit Linda KoffronSo, I ain’t all that. I have done nothing so special in my life. I am not what one would expect from the daughter of two college educated parents. Not what you might think of when you think the daughter of a therapist and a patented inventor, with a second home in Aspen. I am no, physicist, accountant, or attorney.

I am just a devoted wife of 17 years, mostly stay at home mom of 3, surrogate mother to more, cool Auntie to many, and these days part-part time gymnastics coach, who struggles daily to provide for my children.

There is no bag of chips with that.

There is no incessant bragging to friends on my behalf. I am certainly not someone my parents would be especially proud of.

I am nothing special, and no one to aspire to be.

That is unless you are familiar with the common expectations for many former fosters/ foster care alumni who age out of the system. Unless you knew me as the 11 year-old whose mother didn’t make her go to school. You knew the depressed 12 year-old who realized she had been set-up and whose parents managed to successfully dump her on the system. The angry smart mouthed 15 year-old who lashed out at everything and everyone who represented the life she lost. The disillusioned 17 year-old alone in a world she was woefully unprepared to navigate. The homeless 18 and 19 year-old aged out foster youth, living in shelters, couch surfing and hitch-hiking a crossed the country looking for somewhere, anywhere she could belong. The blind drunk, lost and bitter 20 year-old looking for love in all the wrong places. The desperately struggling 22 year-old, faking it till she could make it. The hopeful 24 year-old who stunned everyone by having a wedding rather than a funeral.

My parents had written me off by 11.

Many strangers hung in there, tried to support me the best they could and many times got grief and disappointment. They watched me stumble, they watched me fall, they witnessed undeserved rage. There were some tough times for me and times I made it very hard for those around me, those who tried to help. I would say I had burned bridges, maybe a few, but with exception of my parents, I still have relationships with a lot of those who were involved in my care. And believe me they took a hell of a lot more crap from me than my parents ever dreamed of.  (Which I attribute to my theory that kids really lash out those they truly trust.)

I was a disappointment, incorrigible, ungrateful, unappreciative, needy, defective, and generally hopeless, a throw away kid…written off and thrown away at 11.

I may not be all that, but I ain’t so bad either.

I was not a waste of time. I try not to spend too much thinking about the what ifs, the who I might have beens if my parents would have been as willing to sacrifice as much as parents as they were willing to sacrifice their children.

No matter how hurt any child is, how much rage they display, how futile you view your efforts, how disconnected you feel they are. They are yours. You have no crystal ball, you cannot predict the future. There is no way to know who they will be. Before you write your (or any) inconvenient kids off, keep in mind that there is always hope.

And that the chickens always come home to roost.

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