Friday, February 4, 2011

Is There A Place For Me? Foster Care, Family, Friends?

I am going to do a little housekeeping with this blog, and answer what I consider to be an important question that David posed.  Do I think I would have been better off in a foster home?

First things first, Philip, I came to your page to get your email, but I cannot get in now, like i am blocked.  What did I do to make your bad list?  :-P

Ok, on to the foster home thing...

Well, it is hard to say.  I think in most cases, it is ideal for the children to end up with a family member, when possible.  Being torn away and put with strangers can be devastating.  The problem is you never know what type of person will be caring for the child in foster care.  Unfortunatley a lot of crazies, make it through the screening process and they foster kids for the money, or they are the type that like to make them miserable and use them as "staff"

I know my brothers would have been better off in FC, if they were kept together, because they were younger, and could have adjusted better, but I could not have stood being apart from them.   Who knows, my grandparents did not drink and they took good care of us, but my grandpa had two sides, he could be mean sometimes, but it was not too  bad for the boys. 

I was severely abused there, and that is for another blog is coming soon. The abuse was so bad that it did more long term damage to me than everything that happened with my parents.  I do know that had we been taken from my family when we were young, foster care may have been the right option, we would have had time to bounce back from it and not be so tainted by what we saw.  But by the time my mom killed my dad, the damage was done to my brothers and I.  And it was just up to us, when we got older, to make our lives different or keep them better.

David, I know it seems as if I have not given a direct answer, but that is because I don't really know how.  I know my dad was a bad man, and hurt us and I would loved to have been away from him but I could not have imagined not being with my mother, she was my world, up until she changed after the shooting.  I think the only reason I survived being separated from her when I went to live with my granny is because of two things.  1.  I was close to my grandma and loved her very much and my aunt, her daughter, was like a second mom to me and kept me with her a lot too.  and 2.  My mom had changed so much that I had started to be bitter and angry towards her, so that helped to mask the pain and saddness.

If we could ensure the screening process for foster homes, and regular FOLLOW ups with the foster family when the child is placed then I can see it being better, but I think we need to make sure these folks are not doing as much harm as the people they were removed from.  And making sure the siblings stay together is of the UTMOST importance.  At least in the "bad" home, the child knows what to expect. 

So, after going through ALL of that, I think that honestly yes, we would have been better off in a foster home, especially in light of what happened to me when I moved to my grandparents home.  Being with strangers would have been hard, but we would have gotten use to it.  As long as I had my little brothers with me, I think we would have been ok we could have taken care of each other, and I think we would have turned out better.  I look great from the outside, but on the inside I am a mess, that bastard (grandpa) really fucked me up.
We moved a lot too, I never really felt rooted, and that is the case in a lot of these situations, which also makes the transition into foster care easier than for a child who had a stable, steady life.  I went to 4 different elementary schools IN THE SAME TOWN.  Then when I went to live with my grandparents, due to everything I was going through, I started getting in trouble at 12/13 y.o. so I was juggled back and forth from my grandma to both of my aunts, to give folks a break so to speak.  I moved out at 15 years old.  Then it all changed, I went back to straight As and never skipped another day of school.  Probably because working  50 -60 hours a week and going to school kept me wore out.  After that, I still moved every 6 months, apartment lease would be up, and I would move to a new "ghetto" apartment complex because they always run specials for new tenants so that is how I kept my rent to something I could afford.  I mean I was working a lot, but back then I was not making but $4. something per hour...  The longest I have ever lived anywhere was 4 years and I am 37 years old... most places were no more than a year, and often less.

I am not sure what I would have done with a strong, steady place to call home.


  1. This is not criticism.
    I can tell how badly this is affecting you. Your thoughts are much more jumbled in this post than the last, as you try to put everything to 'paper'.
    Just know that there are kind people out there who want to know your story, no matter what form it takes to tell it.
    Your bravery is commendable as always.
    With respect-

  2. Dysfunction

    You are so right! I have "edited" this post 4 times! but I cannot make it flow. I guess because it is based off of a question that I really just cannot answer. I thought I could but as I began to write, I just could not find the words, but that is because I could not find a clear path in my head as to which would have been better.

  3. Dysfunction

    Wow, your post really has me thinking. I believe that the "jumbled" problem not only stems from the answer to the question alluding me, I think it has to do with the story itself.

    As I said, I moved so much and was passed off so much, that a lot of my childhood-teens seem jumbled up and sketchy as well at times.

    When I try to put something on paper, directly tying to that, I often find it is difficult for me because that area of my life was so up in the air.

  4. It hurts me just reading your story. I feel really bad for you and at the same time I'm very grateful for having a "nice" childhood (not perfect though, my parents are divorced and we had lots of problems about it but my mom always tried to keep me away from their problems).
    I think that a lot of kids would be happier and better taken care of in foster home. I know a lot of people who are messed up because their parents ruined their childhood and this marked them for the rest of their lives.


    Since I'm a new follower I would like to invite you to check out my blog and become a follower.
    Constructive criticism of my posts is always welcome.

  5. Hi, I came here from Bag Lady's blog...I read through the post...and I want to say that you're a real brave person...a fighter actually...You've worked hard to be where you are and believe me when I say that I've seen people break down at the smallest things....take care.....*hugs* and prayers....

  6. Hey, I ain't blocked you. Technical hitch I guess. Email me using if it don't work leave s random comment on my blog to let me know. You are very much in my good books! I wondered why I hadn't heard from you. No worries - mail me.

  7. I am very pleased that you have taken the time and effort to address the foster care issue; it was generous of you to put so much thought into my question. I have a friend who, because of an abusive marriage to a gun fanatic, had her children placed in foster care for a year or so and , for one of the boys, at least, it was disastrous. She is of the opinion that it is NEVER the best option. I think, though, that among other things, it gave her the option, the leverage and the time with the children safely elsewhere, to end the marriage, and that by doing so, she was then able to raise the kids in a better and more serene home. The damage was already done to the eldest boy who was 6 (he was sexually abused in a ‘Christian’ home by older boys among the 10 foster kids there), and the damage done was largely irreversible – or if reversible, no one ever found the key. He is now 30 and has been in and out of prison – never for anything sexual, or bullying or theft – but just rage and impulse control issues, as well as substance abuse.
    I actually read and responded to your post days ago, but the computer locked and I lost the whole thing and I have a few rage issues of my own! I think my comment may have bound up the damn thing because it was too long, so I will break this up into multiple entries.
    I have never had personal experience with foster care, although I did have several classmates who were ‘foster kids’ in my early school days. They seemed happy enough but, of course, kids are masters at hiding anything shameful or hurtful. I think, too, there was a slight negative quality to being known as a foster kid. I really wanted to know your opinion because you were in the worst possible home of anyone I have ever heard from, outside of kids who were actually killed or maimed. Of course no one can say, as you point out, what the actuality would have been – the caregivers could have been white slavers or saints – I was more interested in your view of where the odds lay – was it EVER a better chance. This you addressed and I appreciate it. My personal view, which may be totally wrong, is that even if a foster dad had behaved exactly as did your grandfather, it might have been a tiny it less damaging, because he was not a relative who was supposed to love you and for whom you might have had mixed feelings of love and anger. He would be a total ‘bad guy’. You might have been able to fantasize a ‘perfect family’ and used the fantasy as a role model of sorts. In my own family, my father grew increasingly ‘crazy’ and it was the middle kids who now show the most damage. My youngest brother told me his ‘father image’ was largely based on affectionate stories my Mom told of my father’s good qualities and he seems far better adjusted then the middle guys. The youngest two have also told me that they really regarded me and Gary, particularly Gary the next oldest to me, as father figures.
    My father was ultimately committed to an institution for about a year, after which he was mostly a ghostly presence in the house. But his worst acting out, of which I have written some time ago was just at a crucial time for my fourth thru sixth siblings’ development and the damage has never really been overcome by them.

  8. I completely agree that it is always best to keep a family together – I would guess that an orphanage where they were together would be better than even good foster homes which split them – if any of the children are old enough to grasp the concept of brothers and sisters. I would argue, though that you COULD have stood it if you were separated, because you are an astonishingly strong woman. It may be that some of your strength lies in your ability to think that things could be worse. What you regard in retrospect as the best of the situation (you siblings staying together, your grandmother’s care, even though she had an astonishing capability to deny the obvious, and your aunt) are – or seem – to have been crucial, because that was the best that actually happened. If something different had happened, you would probably have found aspects of that to view as crucial, because that is either human nature, or your nature, or your strength. You seem to be living proof that you can stand anything. Never lose sight of this amazing strength.
    You have written of your brother’s misbehavior when he is drinking, which you rush out day or night to mitigate. I would like to point out that, to his child, he is exactly what your father was to you. When you work to calm things down and get his family back together, you are returning that child to a dreadful situation of uncertainty. Even if he is pretty good when sober (and you really don’t KNOW that; think how YOUR relatives were unaware of the worst of your situation), the fact that he has these episodes cause this child to live with that perpetual sword dangling above her head. You have bound yourself deeply into this situation by renting to your brother. Is it possible that you are the worst possible ‘referee’ in his life? Please don’t think I am judging or criticizing; I think you are amazing. But sometimes being emotionally involved – actually, I think this is ALWAYS true – makes you overly sympathetic, too quick to accept promises or see signs of reform and so on. You are somewhat blackmailed by your concern for his child and wife, and because you still have deep feelings for him. I hear AA people say over and over that people have to hit ‘rock bottom’ and so long as you provide a place (even if he is paying rent) and a rescue operation for his worst excesses, you not only are keeping him from rock bottom, but also are potentially setting yourself and your family up to be targets of his violence. I urge you to try Al-Anon, a group that I know has greatly helped two women I know – including the woman I mentioned in my previous comment – to keep their own lives on track when violent alcoholics were in their lives. What seems like help on your part is often really making things worse, or prolonging the problem. You know better than anyone that those things you see on the news CAN happen to you.

    I am so sorry that you had the horrible childhood you did. You can’t change that. I hope with all my heart that you can make the rest of your life as serene and happy as possible, and that you can minimize the impact on you marriage and your new family. This is not easy when, as you say, you are “a mess inside”. But things can get better every day when you deal only with your own issues and stay aware that you can’t save someone else who does not want to be saved (yet). I think this blog was a brilliant idea for you. I think you would profit greatly to consider finding a place you can have a real time dialog with people who are neutral in your situation and who have real ideas from real experience. No one can change someone else. People can only change themselves. If one person in a situation changes, the situation itself cannot help but change.

  9. Great blog..

    ciao ciao from Rome