Kaylin is an active member of the LifeStrengths program. At every event she attends, she lights up the room. We asked Kaylin a few questions about her experience growing up in the foster care system. From sharing her dream to what she wishes everyone knew about foster care; her insight is invaluable as she explains firsthand what foster care is like.
Q: What is an experience that you feel that anyone in foster care has gone through?
A: Feeling like we don’t belong.
I don’t know how many times I have used the phrase ‘normal kids’ to refer to a child that has not gone through the care system. I always felt like no one wanted me because if my own parents didn’t keep me, why would anyone else? Being excluded from events my foster family held, birthday parties, weekend trips, and, most important, family photos made me feel even more out of place because I would see all the family photos and never see myself in them. Feeling like we don’t belong will always be present, but there are things foster parents can do to lessen those thoughts.
Q: What do you wish everyone knew about foster care?
A: Just because we are in foster care does not mean we are ‘problem kids.’ I think some people see foster kids as children who act out all the time. Every child has their outbursts whether in foster care or not. Yes, a foster child’s outburst may be more extreme than a child that grew up at home, but you have to realize that these children went through horrible things that no child their age should go through; it forces them to grow up when they should be a kid, so yes their tantrums may be worse, but they went through something at an age where they should have been safe and secure and were not. They are not problem children; they just need a little more work to get over the trauma placed upon them.
What would you tell someone interested in being a foster parent?
A: Be Patient.
You get a brief background story of a kid when you take them in, but not always, and you never truly know what the child has gone through. If they are younger or even older, they may not be able to process the trauma they went through and may act out as a way to deal with it unknowingly. Being patient and trying to figure out why they are acting out is better than just punishing them for the wrongdoing. Sit down with them; you don’t have to talk but just reassure them that you still love and care for them, and the talking will eventually come.
Nothing is more heartbreaking to a kid than feeling unwanted. They go into your home already feeling out of place and knowing that they are not your biological kids, so excluding them from certain things like family pictures, family trips, etc, you are teaching them that the key word in all of those ‘family’ means nothing because they are a foster kid. Showing them that even if they are not your biological kids, they are still a part of your family will only strengthen the bond between the child and the family, and if adoption is not your long-term goal, it will give the child a sense of security in knowing it is possible to find a family that is not biological when they are moving to the next home.
Q: What would you tell your 10-year-old self?
A: Keep going, and everything will slowly fall into its right place.
Q: Do you have a motto or phrase you live by? What is it, and why?
A: 2 Timothy 1:7 KJV: For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The reason I chose this verse is that with God, I am at peace with myself; even when there is chaos flooding my life, God gives me a feeling of purpose within the chaos, and i know that no matter what happens, God is guiding me exactly where HE wants me, and where he wants me is exactly where I want to go.
Q: Who is someone you look up to?
He is the one person I know that I can always rely on and never be abandoned. He will always lead me in the right direction no matter the circumstance, and I could not have chosen a better person to look up to than him.
Q: What is your dream?
A: To be at peace. Whether it be in my place of work, school, etc. I want to be content with where I am and how far I’ve come to get there.
Q: What do you know now that you didn’t know a year ago?
A: The only way to grow and change is to struggle. The main way to know if you’re in a time of change is through struggle; new things are not easy to change. You have to try something new and a lot of the time, you have no idea what you are doing. Change is hard. We like to stay where we finally feel comfortable, but you can only grow with change.
We hope Kaylin’s words are inspiring and give you an insight into what growing up in foster care is like. Feel free to write a note of encouragement to Kaylin below!
Your answers are so nicely written Kaylin. I’m so glad your ten year old self kept trucking along into the…
I’m so glad I was able to have such an amazing opportunity to show people an inside view of life…
You did amazing job on this
I’m so proud of you! Keep going beautiful! 💜
This gave me chills. What an honor it is to hear your story, thank you Kaylin!