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My Unique, Beautiful Adoption Out of the Foster Care System

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For National Adoption Month, November 2021

I thought I would share with all of you my extremely rare, but beautiful adoption story. I was placed in foster care when I was 4 months old due to severe physical abuse that left me with hydrocephalus, fractured ribs and a broken eye socket. I was fortunate to be placed in the home of a Dutch-American immigrant couple and their adult daughter.

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My parents first tried to adopt me when I was an infant because they could see that for me efforts at reunification were not going to work. My parents were denied and experienced overt discrimination due to their age, health conditions and race. Thankfully though, no one took me away, and my parents were given the alternative of legal guardianship when I was 4 years old.

Growing up I never felt like a foster child. My mom and dad and their daughter
always told me “I raised my hand the highest for you! I chose you! I love you!”  For my 4-year-old brain that showed that I was loved unconditionally. Indeed, my mom always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. Growing up I went from wanting to be the first female POTUS to a journalist, gymnastics coach, choreographer, special education teacher, child life specialist, child welfare social worker, child therapist, to adult mental health therapist. My mom encouraged me to always dream big!

My life was not all roses and my story does have trauma in it. I remember being forced to interact with my abusers and remember my abusers causing me significant confusion, PTSD, anxiety and depression. I remember going to court and getting letters stating that my family needed to attend court on my behalf. I remember the social workers asking lots and lots of questions about who I wanted to live with. I remember yelling and screaming that I wanted to live with my mom and dad. I remember the judge sitting on the bench.

All of these negative trauma experiences created anger in me. I was frustrated and scared not knowing if I would be forced to move out of my home. I remember crying and not knowing why. I remember feeling depressed and not knowing when I could finally be alone with my forever family. I remember the court battle going on for 14 long years. After my mother’s death, when I was 9, her adult daughter, who had played more of a backup role in my life, stepped up to the forefront. She became my fighter and protector. A court-battle ensued again. Again, the same issues of race, disability and age came up. Again, I would have to go to therapy in order for a professional to decide who I would live with. I was trapped in the foster care system and experiencing languishing in the foster care system. I was, at the time (2001), one of 500,000 children in foster care, according to United Friends of the Children. However, after five long years in 2002, I was officially adopted out of foster care along with my older brother!

Contributor with her family on adoption day

As an adult who has been on both the personal and professional side of the foster care system, I wonder why is my story such a rarity? I only had one
placement with three caregivers – a family! I am considered disabled due to my hydrocephalus and was a teenager at the time of my adoption. The odds of adoption were not in my favor. I was prepared to enter college, had stability in my education, traveled, made happy memories and had family support! We are failing foster youth and children as a nation by not advocating for permanency in their lives. Foster youth today need loving families to support them. Foster
youth deserve to have hope for their futures.

Today I am raising my voice for permanency and change within the system. Please join me in this month of November to advocate for more adoption and permanent supports for foster youth and children. Thank you!

Header Photo: Getty image by tutti-frutti

Photo in story of contributor with her family on adoption day

Originally published: November 14, 2021
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