Foster care through the eyes of a teenager

The original, expanded version of this article appeared on WRAL.com’s Spotlight page.

Teenager sitting on a couch with a notebook and laptopHer 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.

For Shania, reunification with her biological parents was not an option, so Shania was considered a candidate for adoption. An adoption occurred prior to entering the Boys and Girls Homes system of care, 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 coming to foster care under Boys and Girls Homes.

Transience is hard for children in the foster care system and with it, comes many challenges. 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 loving adult caregivers, nurturing and responsive parenting, and high-quality learning opportunities at home, in child care settings, and in school.

When Shania eventually came to B&GH, we set out to help her find a foster family who could provide this type of environment for her. Ever since Shania came into Boys and Girls Homes’ care, we've all worked hard to help her put the pieces of her life back together. 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.

Shania could be angry and have a chip on her 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. 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 for other children like herself.

(Shania’s name has been changed to protect her privacy)

 

Q&A with Shania

 

INTERVIEWER. Tell us a little about yourself. What would you like for others to know?

SHANIA. I'm in high school, my favorite subject is math, I'm involved in athletics and I participate as a part of a couple of teams.

 

Q. What do you wish foster parents knew so that they could better help foster children?

A. I wish they understood what foster children have been through. I just wish they would talk to me and listen to me. I wish I had more opportunities to just be a kid and to have fun.

 

Q. What do you wish you could change about foster care?

A. I wish that I had more freedom to do "normal" activities.

 

Q. How have your foster parents made you feel?

A. My first foster parents didn't really seem to care about me. When I went to the group home, I was the favorite and that was fine. My adoptive parents treated me poorly. Now, in my current foster home, I feel like a normal teenager and I want to stay here.

 

Q. What has been something really good that you'd like to share about your foster care experience?

A. Meeting my current foster family has been the best part.

 

Q. Is there anything else that you'd like for folks to know about you or your story?

A. Being in foster care used to feel like being in a prison. Now, I realize that being in foster care has taught me how to love myself and how to control my anger. Now, I have a foster family and case workers who care about me.


Help us provide more homes for foster children like Shania.


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