Marriage After Foster Care

My grandmother used to fuss at me when I was young because I was “too friendly” to strangers.  When I was younger I was confined to the front porch because my grandmother didn’t really trust the world and wanted to ensure my safety.  Even as strangers passed by, I would speak.  My grandmother would scold me and say “You don’t know those people! Don’t speak to them!”  I always believed in giving people the benefit of the doubt until they proved they don’t deserve it.

I have had a couple of serious relationships before meeting my husband that ended badly.  I gave everything I could and it still didn’t work. For some reason, when I decided to move on, I did not take that with me.  Again, I thought it fair to treat the next person with a clean slate.  NOT saying that I didn’t carry scars from my previous relationships, but I went into the relationship with a clean slate of trust for that person because I wanted the same in return.

When I met my husband, I was used to drama. You know the drama of “where is he?, where did this phone number come from? who is he talking to?”- that drama.  To my surprise, my now husband (then boyfriend) didn’t come with that type of drama.  Things were calm, loving, relaxed, honest.  I wasn’t used to this. I found myself CREATING drama just to feel comfortable!  I also didn’t know how to disagree without being angry at the person.  I didn’t understand the concept of agree to disagree.  At the first sign of disagreement, I wanted to leave because I thought that was what people did when they disagreed (my scar from foster care).

My now-husband (then boyfriend), taught me what it meant to really love and what it felt like to really be loved.  I have grown to be a person who can agree to disagree and still love/like a person. I have grown to be a person who appreciates a relationship free of drama enducing.

Alumni Family, regardless of what we have been through, regardless of who has hurt us, regardless of how we’ve been abused or neglected, WE CONTROL how we respond to and accept others.  I do not mean to sound like it is easy coming to this realization because as I’ve stated above, it took some time for me to learn this.  It is normal to experience ups and downs in a relationship, but pay attention to what causes the ups and downs.  I mean reaalllyy pay attention , is it your baggage (internal) or is it your partner’s (external) and deal with the situation accordingly.

Everyone has their hang-ups in life and in relationships regardless of whether they were in foster care or not.  You will know when the right person comes into your life because not only will they help you find your way and love you IN SPITE OF, but you will be willing to help them find theirs, IN SPITE OF.

Your thoughts?

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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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6 Responses to Marriage After Foster Care

  1. My thoughts are that this is a great post. Second, despite all that I have accomplished I never, ever feel good enough. I enter relationships expecting them to end and for them to leave. I don’t know how to change this but I am hoping to meet someone who will be willng to stick around and help-me change it. That’s not too much to ask is it? -Dom

    • It’s definitely not too much to ask! The first step and sometimes the hardest to changing how you feel about yourself is to acknowledge that it is something that isn’t serving you well and you need to change it. And you’ve done this. Give yourself some credit! And you know what? Relationships do end and that is okay. I didn’t know if I was going to marry my husband; I was fully aware that things could end as quickly as they started, but I was determined to let my guard down (which isn’t easy to do) to allow for the possibility that it just might last. This way if it didn’t work out, I knew it wasn’t because I didn’t give it my all. And at the end of the day, I knew I was going to be okay either way.

      The foster care system has a way of trying to shelter foster youth from disappointment by instilling this expectation that all people are supposed to be in your life forever. Youth are not taught that relationships change, evolve, dissolve and that it is OKAY! Youth need coping tools that will help them analyze when relationships dissolve, so they’re able to learn from them and move on. Don’t be afraid to open up because you’re afraid to be hurt. You’ve been through worse things and made it this far – nothing can destroy you without your permission.

  2. Good insights. Sometimes I look back at the things I put my husband through when we were dating and wonder why he stuck with me. I wasn’t trying to be mean or test him, but I had so much baggage that I was carrying around, that he had to work through an awful lot of crap to get to me. I’m glad he did, but I sometimes wonder how he knew it was going to be worth it.

    • Thanks Jackie! That is why I believe that when the right person comes along, it’s clear because they put up with habits and baggage that many people would walk away from. I think the critical piece though is alumni recognizing that they have the baggage and then trying to work on it. It’s nothing worse than someone wanting to be with you and trying to deal with your baggage when you don’t even admit you have it! LOL! I wonder how my husband knew I would be worth it too. Maybe we should ask them and then have them post! LOL!

  3. Tiffany says:

    Great post! I identify with all of this. In addition, the family dynamic that my husband had was competely strange to me and my family dynamic took a lot for him to get used to because we literally had to map out my siblings in my biological family, my siblings in my adopted family. My adopted parents biological children versus their adopted children etc. etc. and it was crazy!

    • Thanks Tiffany!! You definitely have a beautifully dynamic family! I guess we (alumni of care) all do to a certain extent since we have to build our families. I have a family made up of biological cousins, cousins by love, biological uncles, uncle/aunt figures,godmom, mother-in-love, alumni brothers and sisters and “play play” brothers and sisters and this list goes on and on! LOL! I believe that’s one of the hidden perks of being an alumni of foster care – we can build the family we always wanted!

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