“Imagine never knowing what it was like to work, how to sustain yourself financially, or how to negotiate the real world.” Turning 18 in the foster care system usually means never going back home, not being adopted, and having to sort out your life on your own. Many youngsters who have grown up in foster care are in this situation. They are thrust into the real world when they turn 18, and many find themselves on a new survival path.
These children encounter a variety of challenges, including homelessness, drug addiction, and difficulty finding or retaining jobs. Most 18-year-olds are deciding which college to attend, and some may choose to stay at home for a few more years to get experience in life while their parents assist them. Foster children, on the other hand, do not have this option.
I’ve fostered 19 children ranging in age from 2 to 11 years in the last four years, and it’s always been my routine. There was a scarcity of foster parents during the onset of the pandemic, and the number of foster children was expanding. I got a call asking whether I’d be prepared to take in a 17-year-old guy who would only be staying with me for a year. I was initially apprehensive, but knowing the difficulties the pandemic had caused, I soon said yes. Zay would come into our lives and transform them for the better, I had no idea at the time!
When he first arrived, he did everything he could to influence my choice to take him in. He was enraged since he was about to meet a new family for the seventh time. He told me several stories in an attempt to scare me away, but I sat and listened no matter what he said. Many people who choose to foster children do so to take in younger children and ignore teenagers. I’m glad I brought my adolescent Zay in last year. I’ve watched Zay grow up and become a member of our family over the year. And now I get to watch him develop into an incredible young guy.
Tomorrow is Zay’s 18th birthday, and we’re looking forward to celebrating with him, knowing that his birthday will be filled with hope and joy. Zay will always be a part of our family, even when he is no longer in foster care. He’ll live with me until he graduates from high school, and then he’ll have the option of staying here for years after that until he’s ready to be on his own. And, when he’s ready, I’ll be there to assist him in learning about all of life’s duties.
Tomorrow is a gift, and I am grateful for the chance to continue assisting Zay and giving him the life he deserves. I strongly advise anyone considering being a foster parent to consider taking in a teenager. You will truly make a difference in a child’s life.”
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