In her own words: a teenage foster child tells her story
Shania was taken into the foster care system at a young age and has had a "unique foster care experience" - one that has involved multiple states, agencies and placements.Posted — Updated
What does the world of foster care look like through the eyes of teenager? One foster teen, Shania, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, agreed to share her story.
Finding a Loving Foster Family
Shania was taken into the foster care system at a young age and has had what Abbigail Roberts, a foster care consultant for the Boys & Girls Homes of North Carolina, calls a "unique foster care experience" – one that has involved multiple states, agencies and placements.
"Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong," Roberts said.
Reunification with her biological parents was not an option, so Shania was considered as a candidate for adoption. An adoption occurred, however, it was later reversed. Afterward, Shania was placed in a foster care group home. Later, she was placed with two different foster families before becoming a client of B&GH.
Transience can be hard for many children in the foster care system and with it, comes its own set of challenges.
"[However], children's early experiences shape who they are and affect lifelong health and learning. To develop to their full potential, children need safe and stable housing, adequate and nutritious food, access to medical care, secure relationships with adult caregivers, nurturing and responsive parenting, and high-quality learning opportunities at home, in child care settings, and in school," the study continued.
When Shania eventually came to B&GH, they set out to help her find a foster family who could provide this type of environment for her.
"Ever since Shania came to us through B&GH, we've all worked hard to help her put the pieces of her life back together," Roberts said. "We've helped her learn more about herself and who she is. We've also helped her establish contact with the majority of her siblings and her birth parents."
Roberts continued, "If I was Shania, I'd be angry and I'd have this chip on my shoulder. But, she doesn't take that approach. Instead, she's very resilient and she always looks to find the good in every day."
Shania is now part of a foster family who has adopted three young children. Roberts said Shania is great with her foster siblings, and "is so kind and so gentle with the children."
Falling into a groove with her new foster family, Shania is learning to drive,doing well in school and looking at four-year universities.
"She's adamant that she wants to be a social worker, so that she can help other children who have experienced family life traumas that are similar to her own. Shania wants to be that beacon of hope and home," Roberts said.
Q&A with Shania
My adoptive parents made me feel terrible about myself and treated me poorly. At my next foster home, I felt like a slave.
Now, in my current foster home, I feel like a normal teenager and I want to stay here.
Now, I have a foster family and case workers who care about me.
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