I think most of us would agree that 18=a baby adult right? I don't know about you guys but when I was 18 I was definitely not ready to launch out into the world on my own. I needed my mom for so many things back then! I needed her to pick up the phone so that she could listen to me cry and give me advice as I sat in the stairwell of my dorm after bombing my first college exam. I needed her to look up bus routes for me while I cried inside a downtown pizza shop after I tried to take the city bus for the first time and got lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood (leave me alone this was before smart phones and I cried a lot back then okay?) Who else would I have called? What would I have done if I didn't have her?
For kids who age out of the foster care system, there is no one to call. There's no built in safety net. There's just a scared young person trying to make it on their own, cobbling together the advice and assistance of friends and mentors and former foster parents and access services through government programs, just trying to make it all work. And for someone who's been through the trauma of the foster care system, they have to climb that uphill battle while also managing mental health challenges.
It's a lot.
To whoever is reading this, if you want to help someone who is aging out of foster care without a permanent home, if you want to help change the story of a real person worthy of love and support...I know this girl.
I know this really amazing young woman who is someone special. A friend to disabled peers, she cheered proudly alongside my students in Special Olympics this year. A sweet helper, she's always the first person to carry your bag or catch your scampering away child on a park outing. She loves to sing and she's a girly girl, always thrilled with a new dress or a new hairstyle because honestly ladies aren't we all? She's the daughter I haven't had yet, and if I could give her the safety net of a family I would because damn does she ever deserve it.
But we can't right now cuz these boys have this house full up and adoption is not a pathway that's open to my girl anyway. Instead, I'm hoping that we can all come together to give her a little nest egg, to stitch together a version of the safety net that she should've had all along.
This sweet and resilient girl is turning 18 in 15 days, and aging out of foster care into so much uncertainty. But YOU can be part of her village TODAY.
So please, read the interview below. Her answers will BREAK your SOUL. She's a fighter ya'll.
Interview with T:
If you could have been adopted, would you have wanted that? What might have been different it you had been adopted instead of aging out?
T: I did want to get adopted at one point but they told me I would lose college funding and housing paid for. What would have been different is I wouldn't have the help and support of my team so it would've been harder.
That answer broke my heart guys. Let that sink in for a minute. The professionals in charge of keeping this baby girl safe convinced her NOT TO BE ADOPTED because they told her she would lose her college funding (NOT true) and convinced her that county employees would provide more support than a FAMILY. This is why we need more committed adoptive homes for teens. This right here.
What would you say is the worst thing you've experienced because of the foster care system?
T: The three major things were my daughter got taken from me because they weren't giving a 13 year old mother the help I needed, I was in a foster home where I got jumped and alcohol thrown on me and shot with a beebee gun multiple times, and I wasn't allowed to say goodbye to my grandma when she passed.
What do you want people to know about teenagers in foster care?
T: Most have been through so much and the county expects so much, too much, of a broken teen who is already struggling. Also some teenagers might have really bad problems because of the trauma they've been through and it's the foster carers job to help them out.
What are some things foster parents have done that were helpful, and what do you wish they had done better or differently for you?
T: The one I'm with now has helped me strive to get things done and taught me things that my mom never did. Foster parents could act like having us in the home isn't a job it's because of how big their heart is. The one I had before could have taught me how to raise a kid and helped me get better, but she didn't.
How do you think the system should handle cases of teen mothers who are also foster kids? What do you wish had gone differently for you and your baby?
T: They should put them in classes and take half the responsibility at first and teach young moms how to do it right. That's what they DIDN'T do for me. They didn't help me until I was really stressed and depressed and suicidal but then they took her from me. They separated us and stuck me in two different residential facilities, away from her most of the time, then they took her away for good.
Those answers should break your heart. Those answers should make you mad as hell about how badly the system is failing these kids. But the good news is, we were able to raise $4,400 for Tabby to put towards her future goals!!!
Tabby wanted to share the following about her plans for the money that was raised:
Since the foster moms I had never really let me have fun or go places (other than my last one) I want to spend some on having fun and being a young adult. The rest I am using for a car so that I can stop relying on everyone else and get things I need to get done like job, school and emergencies.
Tabby wants to thank everyone who contributed to the #notthisonechallenge fundraiser. She would like anyone who would like to contribute to helping her out in the future to know that her personal cash app is $King61421.
Happy birthday baby girl. You are, as you always say, an UNBREAKABLE spirit. So much love to you always; I can't wait to see all of the wonderful things you will do in this world.