Moving Forward

My foster care story started when I was five. I was living with my biological mother and stepfather. I had two older sisters that lived at home, and a 
brother and sister that lived with their aunt. When I was four my mother gave birth to a boy. It was at this time that my two sisters moved out. One 
went to live with her father out of state, the other with our grandmother. In November when I was five my stepfather committed suicide. This set the 
whole changes in motion.

My mother was not able to care for us and I remember going around the neighborhood begging for food. There was one house where the lady 
would give us food. I was a five and my brother was one when we were alone with my mother. One day I went over to this house I did not know. I 
was playing in the yard and two Nuns talked to me. They told me that they were taking me for a haircut. Less than one hour later I was at a house I 
never saw before. The women and man there had seven children ranging from ages of 5-17. It was a big house in a town I had never been before. 
The Nuns left me there not knowing where my mother or brother were. I had no idea what was happening.

I was treated well by my new foster family, but it was like being kidnapped away from my family. No matter how bad it was at my home, it was still all 
that I knew. I was living with strangers and children that I never knew. I started kindergarten having never learned anything that my class already 
knew. I was one of the youngest children in my foster home. I do not remember seeing my family that year.

When I was starting first grade they sent me back to live with my mother. I was starting first grade and was behind all the other children. I do not 
remember much about the time spent back at my home. My brother was gone and had no idea where he was. It was just my mother and we were 
living in a different home than I grew up in. After a short time spent back with my mother, they took me back to the foster home. I had no idea what 
I did wrong to get sent back to foster care.

I started in a new school with nobody I had meet before. The next door neighbor had a son that was my age and we became friends. It was one 
bright spot in my childhood. They would take me for supervised visits with my mother a couple times a year. After a couple of years I would go for 
holidays and spend the night. I never saw my brother and sisters when I went back. I did find out that when I was five that my mother had given 
birth to a daughter. The daughter went from the hospital right into foster care.

After a couple of years I did see my brother and sister at the foster picnics, and sometimes on my birthday. My mother was at a few of the picnics 
which confused my sister. We was shortly after one of the picnics that I stopped being able to see my sister. My brother lived in the same town and 
I did see him at playgrounds with his foster family. I never did get to see my older siblings. I never knew about my sister that was less than two 
years older than me, or my brother that was three years older. They had lived with an Aunt from before I was born.

My life as a foster child was confusing. I never knew my biological father so it was easier to have a foster father. Growing up foster with a birth 
mother, and a foster mother was confusing. I felt that if I did not have loyalty to my foster mother it would be harder for me. People always asked 
my why my last name was different. I would say I am in foster care and same day I will be adopted. I would say that because my mother would not 
sign I had to wait until I was 18.

It was like two worlds for me. My foster father’s family never asked me about my biological parents, my foster mother’s family would always ask me 
how my mother was doing. Of the seven children at the foster family house two I became close with. They would introduce me as their brother, the 
other’s I was their foster brother.

I was treated well and was lucky to be with such a nice and loving family. The problem was I wanted to be a whole of one family, not a half of two 
families. I believed that when I was 18 I would be adopted. No one ever told me that this would happen, I assumed that was the only reason I was 
not adopted. As I got closer to 18 it was coming clear that adoption was not going to happen. I had no idea what was going to happen to me. No 
one ever talked about it, including Children and Youth. I had to build some walls to handle the pain.

When I was 15 I had to have part of my heel bone removed because of a bone infection. It would change the choices I could make later. When I 
was a senior in high school I did not know what was in store for me the next year. I tried to enlist in the Air Force and took the written test and did 
well on it. When I went for the physical they found out about the heel bone and said I could not enlist. I had to come up with a plan B.

It started looking at colleges and had no idea what I was doing. The colleges I looked at did not have dorms so I would have to live off campus. I 
was accepted at a college that wanted me to start in June after I graduated. I did not know where to live, or how to pay for the college. I had to do 
something because I turned 18 and knew that when I graduated I was aged out of the foster care. I started to drive to my biological mother’s house 
on weekends. My younger brother moved back with her two years before that. They had asked me when I was 16 if I thought his moving back with 
my mother was ok. I was so hoping that I was going to be adopted, so I never asked why not me.

My brother was really under no adult supervision. He could do whatever he wanted. He was only 14 and needed guidance. A week before I 
graduated I moved back to live with my brother. I felt guilty for telling Child and Youth that it would be ok for him to be with our mother. I did not 
want to know what was going to happen after I graduated. Nobody had ever talked to me about what happens. All I knew that after telling people 
for 13 years I was not going to be adopted. It was time to face the truth. This would be the thing that would stick with me most by adult life.

I was invited to functions at my foster family house after I turned 18. I would go over at Christmas and other times. My foster father was always my 
dad. When I was 18 I had a chance to find out who my biological father was, but I did not want to hurt my foster father. This is not about how bad I 
was treated as a foster child, it about not knowing where I belonged. When I was 19 I went for Christmas at my foster family’s house. They were 
taking pictures and had one with all the children. The children never asked me to be in the picture. It was a picture of the seven natural children of 
my foster family. That picture I would see in all their homes when I would visit them.

When I was 27 my foster mother was killed in a car crash. The years leading up to her death we had been getting closer. The conversation we 
should have had, never did happen. I did remain close with my foster father and he was always there for me. When my daughter was born I went 
to him and said that if anything would ever happened to me, I did not want my biological mother to have contact with my daughter. My lawyer said 
my being adopted by my foster father that would stop anything she could do. At age 28 I was adopted with my birth certificate showing just my 
father. Deep down I wanted to belong somewhere. This had no change with my standing with my foster family. I did not change my name because I 
had my identity.

After my father’s death I found out where I stood with the other children. They had a meeting before the funeral of the blue bloods. I was not 
invited and it was clear I was not a whole member of their family. I was back to once being a foster brother. Two of the children did treat me like a 
member of their family. After his funeral it was like my relationship with most of my foster family died with him.

I started years ago to write a book. I called it half-of-a-whole. After working on the book it became clear I was defining my life. I was not half-of-a-
whole with my own family. My daughter from my first marriage was not a half, my new wife and stepsons did not deserve to me half of me. I 
changed the title to Moving Forward. I am still working on the book, but now it is clear that I defined myself when I started the book. I finally was 
defined by my present life, not the past. The years of being defined as a foster child is no longer my identity. I once was a foster child who aged 
out of the system.

I know that many things have changed in the system. New programs are in place and changes made. The one thing that I will never get back was 
the brothers and sisters I could have bonded and have a part of my life. I had two brothers and four sisters I never had an opportunity being part 
of their families. It was truly life in the middle. I will never be a blue blood, and I am happy being part of my family. God has given me a family that is 
a blessing. Our children are the great joys of our lives. I have reached out to my biological siblings as an adult, but to them I am a stranger. They 
are living in the present and do not want to look back. Moving forward it not easy, but my past will always be part of me. It just no longer defines 
who I am today.