Pitfalls of Adulthood (in mid to late twenties) when you are navigating adult life without family

This was a topic that one of my Alumni Brothers asked that I speak on.  I have to say that my mid-late twenties was such a growth spurt for me because I experienced so many different emotions that forced me to face my past and how I was going to move forward knowing that there was nothing I could to to change it.  I was fortunate that my internship at the Freddie Mac Foundation was extended past my 21st birthday (when I aged-out).  I was freaking out about how I was going to survive on my own (healthcare, employment).  I think another thing that really helped me to transition was that I was connected to networks like The Orphan Foundation of America, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute that were more than just scholarship money for school or an internship on Capitol Hill (although both of those opportunities helped me TREMENDOUSLY). They were my informal mentors and introduced me to people that later proved to be a viable resource to me as I struggled to build a life for myself.

My mid to late twenties was especially hard for me because many of the milestones I reached, I could not share with my mother.  When I graduated from College, when I was married, when we purchased our first home and we had our first (and still only) child – these were bitter- sweet times for me because I didn’t have my mother to help guide me through these processes.  I kept going because I didn’t want her absence from my life to hinder the happiness I knew she would have wanted for me.  All in all, I understood that there was a REASON my life was playing out the way it was.  I had no clue what that reason was, but I FELT it.   Although I didn’t necessary KNOW  what happiness was from my childhood and my time in care, I knew how I wanted it to FEEL.

Another Pitfall I experience was how people treated me when they knew I had no family (landlords, regular folks, college school mates).  People can be cruel and they feel that just because I didn’t have any family they could treat me any kind of way. What helped were those networks of individuals that stuck with me after care (Attorneys, Mentors) that I could call to get advice and who would help when I needed them to.

Financial Advice and being strategic about building wealth for myself and my family was also something that I had no clue about and didn’t have family to help with, but there are a lot of people with families that don’t have that.  It’s something I’m learning more about now – pray for me y’all! LOL!

In essence, my way around the Pitfalls of Adulthood without Family was to create a family of my own.  Blood is NOT thicker than water- in my case.  Many of the people that have been there for me – are not related to me by blood but are just as important.  The great thing about being a former/foster youth is that you have the opportunity to BUILD the family you always wanted. We just have to step a little past our discomfort and learn how to let the Right Ones In 🙂

What were/are some of your pitfalls and how did you get around them?


About formerfostertalk

Founder and Executive Director of the Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center and Founder and Senior Consultant with Fostering Change Network LLC. I am also a former foster youth with a passion to give back to youth still in and those who have transitioned from the foster care system.
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4 Responses to Pitfalls of Adulthood (in mid to late twenties) when you are navigating adult life without family

  1. Emily says:

    This is a great idea Shalita. You are truly an inspiration. I look forward to reading your blog regularly. The paragraph about your mother hits very close to home. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. HoCo Connect says:

    Interesting blog. As a father and foster parent I have always noticed that the youth we fostered had real “mother” issues. I never heard any “father” issues. I know that for many youth they never really had much of a relationship with a father to have the same issues. Any insights on “father issues” that impact youth growing up in foster care?

    • Hi HoCo Connect! Foster youth have “father issues” especiallyi the males who have not had their fathers as an active part in their lives. It’s just not something society encourages them to articulate. It’s okay for females to articulate the need for her mother, but if a male does (articulate the need for a mother or father) he is seen in a different light. I believe that is also why males have the hardest time in foster care – especially
      African American males.

      I had father issues as well, but my mother issues would override them as my need going through the foster care system was for a nurturing figure – which is what I was always told a mother should be. I think what was hard for me was the way my mother was taken (she was murdered) that really enhanced my desire to have her in my life. My father chose not to be there, so I resented him horribly.

      The way I look at it now is my father missed out on such an awesome daughter (smile) and maybe I was better off without him. I found out later that he was a chronic alcoholic and drank himself to death when I was 16.

      So again I would say (although this is just my opinion), in such traumatic situations as foster care, society has told us that a “Mother’s Love” is nurturing and will soothe the pain that we experience in only the way a Mother can – so when we don’t have that, we’re pissed and that leads into a host of other stuff we can talk about in another post. Now, the truth is, even those with their Mother in their lives may not have this, but that’s irrelevant when you’re dealing with the changes the foster care system has to offer.

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