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?