Growing up in a foster care home in the late 60’s to late 70’s was very different than it is for kids today, yet many of the same issues—emotional and physical abuse—remain the same. In the decade that Angelo Grotticelli spent under the care of a foster family, there was a stigma attached to foster kids that caused a lot of frustration when the other kids would not play with him or when adults treated him as inferior intellectually.
It was this emotional abuse that led Grotticelli to write a captivating book called “The Bond”, about his time in the Nelson’s house on Long Island NY, more than 30 years earlier. It’s a sad, but triumphant story that speaks to personal circumstance and the American social services/foster care system.
Kirkus.com calls it: “A poignant, infuriating, informative, and ultimately triumphant account of an unusual clan.”
Growing up in a home stuffed with eight foster kids and two natural sons, the Nelson’s promised adoption but in reality were just in it for the money. They “specialized” in accepting multiple kids from one family, at a time when placing even one kid was difficult for case workers. So the money was good. There were two and three siblings from three different families that made up the whole.
Things in the household were often difficult, as the natural sons were treated better than the foster kids, tet the foster kids banded together and became its own forever family—enduing to this day. The new memoir chronicles the god times and the bad. Grotticelli said most of the bad was the aching emanating from his heart.
“My experience with foster care is one of major disappointment and emotional letdown,” said Grotticelli. “I know there are a lot of kids much worse off than me, but The Nelson’s made promise that they didn’t have any intention of keeping, meanwhile, we kids, so desperate for a forever family, bought into that hook, line, and sinker. When you promise a kid something that they have always wanted, it’s devastating when they don’t get it. Especially when this ruse is carted to keep you invested… and under their control. ”
After aging out of the system and being turned away into the world, Grotticelli said he spent many years trying to figure out who he was and where his path in life would lead. As a very cloistered foster kid, he never learned the necessary life skills until much later. Now, he had to learn to swim by being pushed in the water.
“The purpose of my book is to show other foster kids that despite being dealt a bad hand, there is a rewarding ife awaiting those who can find the muster to move forward and live productive lives,” said Grotticelli, adding that he’s worked as a technology journalist for those three decades after being asked to leave the Nelson’s house at 18, going to college (which he paid for himself with school loans) and raising a family of his own.
“This is my story, so others might see their own situation differently, but the central theme of the book is that good can come from bad.”
“The Bond” has been received numerous positive critical for its honesty and shining a light on aging out in the foster care system and the devastating effects that mostly last a lifetime.
The Independent Book Review said: “The author is up front and honest about his fraught relationship with his foster parents, but there are moments where they don’t feel quite as bad as they are presented. Then we reach adulthood, and it gets much clearer. They just stopped loving him, which helps me see the damage of if they ever loved him—or any of the kids—to begin with.”
Another review, on the website BookLife, said: “The Bond is a powerful memoir that chronicles the strength of the relationships formed among a collection of unrelated siblings who forged a remarkable, separate, and permanent family within a foster home.
“That unconditional love is what all foster kids seek and it’s a shame that not all get to feel its comfort,” said Grotticelli. “If just one person reads “The Bond”, sees some parallel in their own life, and figured out a way to happiness; that would be a success for me,” he said. “My goal was to show how it feels inside to be a foster kid and all of the insecurities that can take over destructively if you let it.”
Far from painting a rosy picture, “The Bond” exposes a true snapshot of a time when “there was a voice screaming in silence to be heard and no one was listening,” said Grotticelli, adding this his life is sometimes defined but not consumed by foster care. And he wants to make things better for today’s foster kids aging out. “We’ve got to do a better job of providing support services for foster kids aging out of the system and nowhere stable to go. “The Bond” is my effort to let foster kids know they are not alone and to shed light on a problem many never see and don’t understand. The situation they are in is not their fault and they can make it better by finding the resources and friends to get them there.”