One night I was searching the internet for help. My son was about to be released to me from foster care. I never had someone to talk to or to advocate for me while I was dealing with the foster care system. I finally came across Rise magazine at 4 in the morning.
It felt good to know that there were other people going through what I went through. A mother who loses her kids to foster care? It feels like no one cares about that. So to see other women out there, I felt better about myself, just for that moment anyway.
I was crying reading one of the stories. The lady was saying that her mother was an alcoholic and she heard a lot of negative things growing up. When she was arguing with her kids, she found herself saying some of the same things. I was saying to myself, “I don’t want to be like that. My own mother’s mouth was crazy. I know that words hurt, I don’t want to hurt my son.”
Another story was by a mother whose teenage son came home. They kept bumping heads. She wanted him to be home, but he didn’t respect her. He was angry. Now my son is home, and I’m going through that. I’m trying to be mom, but he’s not really respecting it. He’s 16. I know what they say: “Hurt people hurt people.” I’m hurting, and he’s hurting. My mother passed away. My other daughters were adopted off. But the story was a good reminder: It’s not just me that’s hurting. My son went through things I wasn’t around for.
I was up the whole night, just reading all the stories. I even gave Rise to my girlfriend. She’s going through dealing with the foster care system, and she’s not really dealing with it.
The agency I was with—they don’t have any advocates, they don’t have any groups for parents. It’s all for foster parents. As a parent, you’re basically on your own. A lot of women don’t have a place to talk to other women. I want to see all parents dealing with the agencies reading Rise so they could get help.
The agency makes you feel like nothing you do is right. A lot of women just give up, and their kids will be in the system. To know that someone actually cared or someone actually got their kids back—that means a lot.
You know, I grew up with both my parents on drugs, and by the time I was 13, I was selling drugs. By 16, I was pregnant with my first child. By 17, I was homeless. Then I moved in with my mother and it was pure hell. She would drink and go crazy. She was a horrible mother. I needed help, but if you ask for help, they’re going to come take your kids. I’ve just had a hard time finding my way.
Now I see that I thought I was a good mother but I wasn’t. My kids needed me and I wasn’t there. When they took my kids away, I was hopeless.
I’m proud that my son is home now on trial discharge, but it’s rough. I want to get into family therapy but he’s not ready for that. I don’t want him to grow up and repeat what I went through. I hope I can help him deal with the hurting stuff now so when he gets older, it’s not affecting his life.