Life as a Foster Child
There are many different reasons why children and young people come into the care system but for Erica her normal family life took an unexpected turn for the worse; here is her story.
For Me, life as a child started great. I had a loving, normal family, but when I was seven my father suddenly died and life changed dramatically.
My mother became severely depressed and developed Schizophrenia. As a result, she was unable to care for me and my brother, aged two.
There were no other family members to care for us as my mother’s family lived in the Philippines and my father’s family was not in a position to take on two young children. So we had to go into foster care.
I didn’t know what was happening. My emotions were all over the place. Luckily our foster family were very loving and made us very welcome. They had four children close to our own age – so we had hours of fun playing together and we were happy.
Life as a foster child was great for 5 years, but then a cousin decided she wanted to care for us, and applied to the courts for us to live with her. Unfortunately we did not have any say in the matter – we were happy with our foster family and didn’t want to leave.
When I hit my teens I rebelled against my cousin’s rules and ran away. For a while I lived with a friend, which was fun, but not that good for me as there were no rules or routine and I think children thrive on this.
After a fall out, I left and begged social services to find me another foster family, but there was nobody willing to take me on. There was one family; Vicki and Dennis but they were a bit stretched and reluctant to take me on. It was nothing personal. They were already caring for many other long-term children, one foster child who was severally disabled.
But fortunately for me Vicki and Dennis decided to let me stay, which was one of the best feelings in the world! To know that someone still cared enough to take a chance with me was just incredible.
Vicki was loving, but firm. I admit it wasn’t easy settling in, I wasn’t the perfect teenager. I was 16 and knew everything or so I thought!
I remember how Vicki would spray my pillowcase and room with lavender each night. Lavender is supposed to calm children down and help them sleep but it just wound me up. I would go, yuck, what is that stink? I couldn’t sleep all night. So much for the calming qualities of lavender!
I was lucky to have found another caring foster family. To me, they are my family. I went on holidays, celebrated Christmas, birthdays and weddings with them. I shared all the highs and lows.
I am now 21, happy and fulfilled. I live with my boyfriend but I regularly go home to see Vicki and Dennis and keep in touch with my first foster family and my mother.
Vicki and Dennis have always encouraged me to succeed; they encouraged me to learn to drive and to go to university. I didn’t think I was capable of doing anything like that, but with their help I put my head down and worked hard for it.
I wanted to be an interior designer but now I hope, in the future, to work within foster care. Hopefully, I can make a difference. I think foster children would be able to associate with me. I know what they will be going through and can support them with my experiences.
You know, a lot of foster children think the world owes them but I say the only person who can fix your life is yourself!
If you think you can give a young person, like Erica, a chance at making a better future for themselves then please contact us by submitting your details on the form above or call our team on (freephone) 0800 038 7799.