My name is Tyler and I used to be in foster care but now I am adopted. I have been helping promote MYVoice Interactive by creating examples and coming up with different ideas for MYVoice Interactive. The whole point of MYVoice Interactive is to bring kids and youth impacted by the system into an online space to share artwork, videos and many other ways to explore your creativity.
*some explicit language*
My Invisible Truth | by ARMANDA
I once was asked, “Throughout your time in foster care, what were some specific things workers (county worker and/or adoption worker) did that were helpful and made you feel valued in the search for permanency?” to which I responded: During my time in foster care, some specific things that one of my county workers did that was helpful was by focusing on the strengths-based perspective with me. It helped boost my self-esteem and realize that even though, I have been through hardships, I still persevered and aspired to help others in the process too. It taught me that these terrible things that have happened to me do not have to define me as a person or my future. My adoption worker, during my time in foster care, traveled far to truly listen to what I was looking for in an adoptive family, she even took my location preference into consideration, being that I wanted to look for a family in the twin cities. She did not pressure me or try to sway my wants/preferences and worked hard to fit me with my now “forever” family. I believe that for both my county social worker and my adoption worker, what stood out to me the most and made me feel valued was their consistency and patience. I understand they have busy lives and heavy case-loads, but they chose to travel long distances every time instead of talking on the phone or emailing like my previous social workers have done, and consistently chose to see me for who I was and not the troubled high-risk kid I was portrayed as in my case files.
To which the following question was asked, “What were some things that workers did that were not helpful or even insulting?” I shared: Some things that previous social workers have done while I was in care were lack of communication, lack of respect, and judgement. An example of lack of communication would be that two of my social workers would not visit me, they would just call to do their monthly check-in which was insulting to me because I felt like I did not matter, or my well-being and safety wasn’t of importance. An example of lack of respect from county workers would be when they assumed that because of my age, that I had no idea what I wanted in my life or what was good for me, such as when I had went to court about my first adoptive dad sexually abusing me, my social worker #2 was head strong in the family reunification mindset, that she could not see the danger in bringing me back to that abusive and manipulative home that social worker #1 had put me in thinking that an 8 year old girl had no idea what she was talking about when my intuition was telling me differently. I had to email that social worker #2’s boss to ensure my safety by returning and staying in foster care. Social worker #1 that had set me up with my first adoptive family (the abusive family,) when I had mentioned to her previously that I had an “icky
feeling” about them the whole time I was with them, and during the adoption, I refused to smile. My social worker at the time pulled me aside and said to me, “Smile! This is a happy day. This is a great and loving family. You deserve this!” Her words stuck with me for a long time as that family repeatedly abused me for years. An example of judgement would be that since I felt so lost, with no purpose in life expect to be pushed around and abused, I turned to bad coping mechanisms such as drugs, drinking, and promiscuity. The first time I met my new social worker, social worker #2, after going back into foster care, she was very rude and said that if I did not “stop smoking weed, messing with boys, and continue lying about families to make myself feel better,” that I would never find a family. She had said this without getting to know who I was outside of my case file first. She was also the one that would hold off working on life skills with me because she thought I was “dumb to even want to try and find a family at the age of 16 because nobody wants an old manipulative foster child, so you might as well plan to age out of the system.” I did not let that stop me from pursuing what I knew I actually deserved.
Because of these hardships and mountains that I had to climb; I had found my identity. I found my voice. I found my passions. I use these experiences to help me empathize more deeply with others, motivate me to grow more as person and do go above and beyond so that I can share my story in hopes
of helping to support others to find their voices, advocate for themselves and what they believe in, and to see the hope in every situation. Once I graduate from college in a year, I want to be the social worker that will actually understand people’s situations, understand how courageous their vulnerability is, and help them achieve their goals whatever that may be that they have in mind for themselves and their families. I want to break free from the cycle of generational poverty, generational abuse, and generational addiction. With all of this, I will become the true version of myself.