“When it is dark I will always crack the door so there is light. When you feel alone, I will show you a picture of your son and remind you that you will never be alone again. When you feel unloved, look at me and you’ll know without a doubt that you are loved. When you feel weak, i’ll show you a picture of the strongest people I have ever met- you. I was just thinking of how fantastic you are and wanted to tell you. Hope you are having a fabulous day sweetie.”- Love mom.
That was the text my foster mother, whom I now call mom, sent me one evening. I starred that that message long and hard and flashbacks came through of the times I was in foster care.
I was in foster care after running away at the age of 14. The home I ran away from,was filled with abuse day in and day out from a man close to the family. He later on committed suicide leaving me a letter that I never read. When I ran away I thought the pain was all over. I thought that I was finally free and is able to go to a good home. My biological mother was nowhere to be found. The birth certificates that was sent to her potential homes were sent back. A reminder that I was not wanted. I got into a lot of trouble growing up. I had problems with intimacy, the law, making friends, and school. Each day in foster care was a day waking up to watch the world around me collapse deeper and deeper into the earth. Every placement I was sent to confirmed the thought, that a life like this, is not a life worth living. Every medication I was forced to take was like suicide teasing me. Soon it just became dark when my biological father passed away. The world was dark and my heart was empty, and I am alone.
My education suffered tremendously. There was a time I actually said outloud “I never thought I would see so many letter of the alphabet in one report card”. But that didn’t matter, because in a few weeks or months later I would have to pick up my trash bag suitcase and go to another placement. Just before I went to high school year two couples came into my life and said enough was enough. Their names were Bill and Rosemary.
Bill and Rosemary walked into my group home with the biggest smile that I have ever seen on a human being. Their voice was chipper and their eyes glowed with happiness. I was not ready for the life that they had prepared for me. A life of success. From times of being disappointed and tired of being moved from one placement to another due to a bad attitude, I thought I would save them a trip. I was witty in my questions and just wanted to know why they are doing this for me. I knew that a parentless child with a background that was dirty as mud don’t belong to people like them. But since they day they said “we want to take you home and give you a good life”, they have done so ever since. My foster parents had to answer to questions that belonged to the people who placed me on this earth. They had to deal with pain that they didn’t create. They allowed their life to be messy because to them, I was worth it. After numerous times of not letting go, and not giving up on me. I found myself walking across the stage of my high school graduation, holding a diploma I would have never thought would be mine. A few years later, in the delivery room, there they stood holding my son as proud grandparents. The cycle of abuse and generations of pain have finally ended. All because a couple refused to give up on me.
I texted my mother back that evening and asked if I could call her. She said yes, and I did. I told her about my day and how her grandson was with potty training. After a life of emptiness, the evening’s call ended with “I love you sweetie, have a good night”. Ever since my parents came into my life, I knew that no matter what tomorrow brings, I can make it.
Whitney Gilliard aged out of the foster care system, and is now a strong advocate for foster care. Whitney is a Lifecoach and a mentor. Find out more about Whitney at Whitney Gilliard and Company.