My Forever Home

Lilo-Stitch-Ohana-Quote

No one ever talks about successful foster homes. We always do the contrary. Today I want to share how critical and influential my forever home has been to my life. This home gave me hope and wisdom.

There are plenty of reasons why children enter foster care. As for me, my story began in Puerto Rico, an island where you hear the melody of the coquí at night and the rooster's crow in the morning. The same island where my parents fell in love and left for better opportunities. However, my biological parents were influenced by people in their lives that led them to make wrong decisions. Decisions that impacted their children's wellbeing and led my siblings and me to be removed immediately. That day I lost my first forever home due to wrongdoing.

My heart has been broken and damaged so severely, but I didn't allow my circumstances to break me. Remaining resilient while my world was falling apart was the hardest thing I have ever encountered as a young teen. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me back in my teenage years that it was normal to be emotional or have feelings.  It's traumatizing enough being taken away from your parents. Imagine transitioning to different placements on a daily basis. No stability whatsoever. Wondering why I was forgotten. I found no reason to unpack my plastic bags in any placement. Not knowing if the next home was going to be emotionally disturbing. I was always wishing upon a star to send me at least one home, a home that would love me.

I found my forever home at last! Unbelievably, in my last foster home, I found parents who saw me. Plenty of people don’t see me quite as my parents do. As for my mom, she celebrates my small achievements. We’re able to have a heart to heart conversations. My parents aren’t fully aware of adversity and don’t have the knowledge of what trauma does to a child or the impact it could have on a child’s life. Even so, their urge and willingness to learn to make a difference in their teen girl’s life was worthwhile.

My forever home gave me an opportunity to experience the true meaning of family, the family who I call home. What is the true meaning of family?  The sense of a family for me is interpreted by the saying: "Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten." This saying is from Lilo and Stitch, one of my favorite Disney movies that I watched as a child. Through Lilo’s love and her belief in ohana, she helped Stitch open up and gave him the ability to care for someone. At that time, the last thing on my mind was belonging. I was Stitch in their home, defiant at times. Planning my next escape. My foster parents didn't summit a letter stating my removal within 14 days. Shocking.

Emotionally I was ready to open up to the opportunity to allow for someone to love me. I found my forever home. People who love me and are proud to call me their daughter, sister, and friend. Now I understand the true meaning of family. Everyone has their perspective of what family means to them. I believe in ohana and finding people who will not leave you behind. I found my ohana.

Article by Greishen Rodriguez, Child Welfare Program Assistant

Jessie Schrantz5 Comments