Author: Julie H., Foster Mom
When we met Miss D 14 months ago, as typical with what adults ask teenagers, we asked “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, “Do you want to go to college?”, “Do you want to be a mom someday?”. The answers to these were literally “I don’t know where I’ll be living in a month, let alone in 5 years!”. Think about that. Let it really sink in. Her security was so shaken over the last five years of being in the foster care system, that she couldn’t look beyond a month at a time. The 8 months before she came to us were three different respite homes and foster homes. How could we possibly expect her to think beyond a month from then?
One of my jobs over the years (prior to my fostering journey) was as a Transition Specialist. This meant that I worked with middle and high school kids (in schools) who had disabilities in preparing them for work and independence. What I learned from that work is that kids need the confidence to dream. When they perceive themselves as being unable to do something, they don’t dream of what could be. I worked hard at giving kids the confidence to be able to dream of the future they wanted.
This is no different with Miss D or my other children. What can we do as parents to help kids dream? For Miss D it was providing stability in her home life. Providing her with a place to call home and showing her that she has a place with us as long as she wants. That we would fight for her and give her all she needs to succeed.
Slowly, over the last year, we’ve seen Miss D thinking about her future. She’s dreaming! She wants to go to college, she wants to buy a car, she wants to drive, she wants to get a job! That’s HUGE. She is talking about her future. She’s allowed to dream now. It’s so amazing to watch. I wish everyone could see the benefit of fostering a teen. Teens aren’t scary. They are amazing “kids” who just need the ability to dream and have someone believe in them!