“My life was turned upside down the year of 1998 – I remember it vividly, never to be the same again. I was born in 1992 to a single mom and lived with one of my older sisters, who was only 5 years older than me. My biological mom had boyfriends that were often abusive and violent. My sisters were taught to shoplift because we were very poor. I remember not knowing when I was going to get my next meal. I would climb on the counter looking through the cupboards and in the refrigerator to find food. I ended up eating only peanut butter with a spoon because that was one thing we did have in the house.
I have police reports from DHS saying the police made several house visits due to violence and neglect. My biological mom was addicted to drugs and alcohol as long as I can remember. There were many occasions that she would be passed out in the house for days or just not home for days on end. Therefore, my sister and I had to fend for ourselves because we had no one else around. Luckily my sister stepped in and cared for me when she was just a child herself, because I was just a baby at the time. The last time a police officer came to my house, he asked, ‘Do you want to go get a cookie?’ I was only 5 at the time, so to me that was a big deal. I did not understand at the time, but my biological mom was crying as we drove away. We then drove to the school and picked up my sister. We were brought to the DHS office where we waited for someone to drive us to a foster home. All we had was the clothes on our backs, and even those were dirty. The foster home where we were taken had other foster kids and teens as well.
The first year in foster care I remember saying, ‘This is just my daycare. My mom is coming back for me.’ The other foster kids tried to convince me I was going to be living there for a while, just like them, but I did not want to listen. At the age of 6, a year after entering foster care, was when I realized that nobody was coming back for me. This was my life now.
I still had visits with my biological mom until I was 11. She attempted to get us back, but the drugs and abusive men had more precedence in her life then her own kids. Age 6 was also when my sister was moved to a different foster home than the one we were in together. Not only was I losing the chances of going back home to my mom, but now also my sister. I needed my sister more than ever because I wasn’t able to go home to my mom. I remember that when my sister or I would cry at night, we would climb into bed together and cry together because we were going through the grief process together. I thought the pain would never leave. Since being separated from my sister, I spent many nights crying myself to sleep as a child. If you have ever grieved one person, you will know the pain can be so bad that it physically aches. You can imagine the anguish I was in when I was forced to grieve my sister and mom at the same time.
As a child I always put my hope in God because early on in life, I learned that people will disappoint you and cannot be trusted. People have often assumed that since I lived in certain foster homes for long periods of time, that they must have been good situations. That was not the case at all. I was neglected, physically abused, and controlled in a foster home for the 7 years I was there. I was not the typical behavioral child either, but when my foster dad would get mad at us, he would often choke us out of anger. Meals were taken away as punishment if we acted up and we were locked outside all day just because my foster mom didn’t want us inside. I endured some of my worst abuse from one of my foster brothers. He was a teen boy and very angry all the time. It was when my foster parents were not around. He was spinning me around on the trampoline, only holding one of my legs and one of my arms. He let go of me and I flew through the air, hitting the fence with a force that knocked the wind out of me. The other instance was when this foster brother of mine asked me to ‘come see something outside.’ I stuck my head out the sliding glass door to see what he was pointing at, and he closed the door on my head really hard for no reason. I became a very depressed and internally angry child. I internalized all my emotions and experienced extreme stress for 16 years which caused me to be on the brink of stomach ulcers and stress-induced diabetes.
I prayed every night, crying out to God to bring me my family back or to give me a new one. I spent the next 7 years in this foster home and was never put up for adoption because my mom’s rights were never relinquished. I was not an ill-behaved child, but I fell through the cracks and was forgotten about in the system. When I was 11, I decided I wanted a family that loved me as their own, and not just a job. I told DHS that I wanted to be adopted but not to my foster family. I never saw my biological mom after that decision. I knew I needed to take my life into my own hands because the foster care system was failing me. When I was 13, I lived in a friend’s home for 6 months. Her mom was going to adopt me. Those 6 months were filled with more abuse and so I had to move again. At this point I was sent to a failed adoption home because I was removed. I stayed for 8 years in this last foster home and was never put up for adoption again because I was deemed unadoptable. I really thought that I was not loved enough to get a family. That rejection followed me for years. I couldn’t escape it due to having a failed adoption and the fact I was a teenager by this time. I was told, ‘nobody wants teens who have spent their lives in foster care.’
I was still in a foster home for a few more years after the age of 18. Typically kids age out of the system at 18, but I was able to stay voluntarily to get funds for school. At 21 I went to a trade college to become a professional nanny in the hopes that I could make a living for myself. I had no family to rely on to support me or teach me how to be an adult. It was at this trade college to become a professional nanny that I became friends with a girl who would change my life forever. I started to express how bad things were in my family situation. I later found out that she told her family what I was going through. I mentioned that things were getting worse in my foster home and shared how I was uncertain how much longer I could live there because their ways of controlling me were only getting worse. During this time, I prayed that God would either give me a change of heart or to change my family.
They were taking advantage of me. I ended up caring for the other foster kids in the home who were infants and toddlers. I was kicked out of this foster home only 4 months after I turned 21. They also stopped getting paid by DHS. I was not involved in drugs or out-of-control behavior that would typically cause parents to kick their child out. I called my friend whom I met at this nanny school because I had no one else to turn to. All of my other friends were friends my foster parents ‘allowed’ me to have, so I had no one that was not controlled by them.
‘I need a place to stay for a few days until I figure out where to go,’ I told my friend.
Her family agreed to take me in. They knew the circumstances I was in were not due to me being an unruly teenager. One evening, I had a conversation with my friend (now my sister) about being too old to be adopted. I came to the realization that I needed to look into it, and I reached out to my old caseworker.
‘It is possible for adults to be adopted – they just have to sign for themselves,’ she said.
On March 27, 2015, at the age of 22, I was legally adopted. I got my forever family after all those years in foster care.
‘We know how important it is for someone to make a commitment to stay in your life,’ my now adoptive parents told me.
People always said they would not leave me, but they eventually did. God answered my prayers of giving me a family that chose me. God did not forget about me in foster care like I thought all those years. But my journey did not stop at being adopted. Now I needed to start the healing process. I went through dark times and happy times as I dealt with my past. I have had to go backwards and forgive people that hurt me physically and emotionally. I’ve had to be vulnerable and accept professional counseling from a complete stranger. But I never gave up, even when I was not sure how to continue.
God has restored my heart in unimaginable ways. I had to go backwards in years and process my pain. I am so glad I did because my perspective of who God is has changed because of it. God says He will never leave nor forsake us and I truly believe that to this day. My years in foster care have helped me not to take people in our lives for granted. It has also taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. My perspective of a life in foster care has also taught me trauma and how it affects a person physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to encourage those who think God is not listening with this: He hears you. Even if you don’t have enough strength to say a word, He knows your heart. Your tears matter to Him and sometimes they flow because we do not know what to pray. Keep fighting for the life you want!”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kyrsten Roberts of Beaverton, Oregon. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories of adult adoption:
‘No one has ever wanted you here. If you find a family that will actually love you, go be with them.’: 26-year-old adopted after years of childhood trauma, abuse, says you’re ‘never too old to need parents’
‘I’m too scared to go back,’ I told my mom. His voice paralyzed me. I lived in fear he’d kill my mother.’: 23-year-old adopted by stepfather who ‘never ceased to fight’ for her during childhood trauma with biological dad
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