Aging Out Stories
We want to hear your story about aging out of foster care.
It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 81. How did you age out of the system? What happened in that time of transition? Was there good and bad, or sad? Was there someone who helped you find your way? We want to hear the reality for youth aging out of foster care – will you help by telling us your story?
For privacy, stories will be published with only first name or initials.
Submit your story to Trinity Opportunity Alliance by completing the form below or emailing email@example.com.
Stories approved by Trinity Opportunity Alliance will be entered to win $500, courtesy of Fry’s Food Stores.
Looking back, I describe my last foster care placement as “the last straw”. At 17, I ran away and never wanted to go back. I begged my social worker to help emancipate me early, but instead of cutting me loose, she introduced me to the woman who would change my life.
I know my new foster mother as “my grandmother”. My Grandma welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to make something of my life, starting with enrolling in college. At 17, I took her advice. She became my greatest role model. She loves you for who you are.
My grandmother always remained positive and willing to listen. After emancipating at age 19, I enrolled in college and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles, with a bachelor’s degree in social work. I believe that every foster child deserves the love of a Grandmother. It takes at least one caring adult that believes in you to become successful. I look at foster care as the culture I grew up in. Those experiences have become a part of who I am.
I've always believed, from a very young age, that it could always be worse.
There is always someone who will have it remarkably better than you.
There will always be someone wishing they could have it as good as you do now.
It may be because I never had another existence to compare it to.
Or maybe, it was just the perspective I chose.
Biologically, I was born the last of 9 children, 5 boys, 3 girls and a surprise...me.
Most, if not all, had been in and out of the "system" throughout their childhood.
My time started when I was just 6 months old, removed from the home under allegations of abuse and neglect.
I've heard the stories over the years... left unsupervised, dirty or malnourished. Questions about the relationships within the home.
Who knows the truth? Too many years and files long since lost.
That's not the point of the story.
The beginning never is.
It is always temporary.
I aged out of the system in 1998. I was very fortunate to be a part of the Casey Family Program and received case management and financial support through college until 2002. I wished I had received more financial literacy education. I was receiving a monthly stipend that was enough to cover my rent while I was going to school but as soon as school ended, I stopped receiving that money and was left with no way to pay my rent so I became homeless. I was able to live with friends for a period of time until I could figure out my financial situation but I felt very ill equipped to support myself. I was also very naïve about the ways in which trauma had effected me. I wished that I had had more resources, other than just therapy which I was sick of at that point, that could have told me how to do self-care.
It's only now, 20 years after aging out, that I'm really starting to understand how to really take care of myself; physically, emotionally and spiritually. I think that because I was so high functioning, everyone just assumed I was fine when in reality I was experiencing a lot of emotions that I didn't understand or know how to deal with.
I was 8 years old when I entered into foster care. I was beaten and neglected by my grandmother at the age of 8 therefore I was taken out of a class I truly loved, which was reading, and given over to foster care and taken to S. Residential Group Homes with my youngest brother R. (names removed for privacy) who at the time was 5 years of age.
By April 2014 I was incarcerated at Adobe Mountain School. Adobe Mountain School is a facility that rehabilitates incarcerated youth under the age of 18. On April 1st I was brought up into the administration office which is not unusual -- that was the area of discipline besides separation. When I got up there I spoke to the administrator of the facility, and he told me what will be happening in the near future. Seems like precisely what is now coming exactly true.
I remember waking up the morning my mother never came home from her "night out on the town". I remember my brother pushing my little sister in the pram, me walking beside him, to the public telephone box down the street. He called 999 which was the emergency number for the police in England. Wasn't long and a lady in a car arrived and she would take my little sister and I off, while my brother went with my grandparents. I was 7 years old, my sister was almost 2 years old. First stop was an orphanage, where we were separated, she went to the nursery I was taken upstairs, stripped naked bathed, hair washed and checked over and given a cotton dress to wear. The year was 1959. That was my introduction to the care system, my mother had left us to live with her boyfriend, my father was in the navy and had another family in a different town.
I remember aging out of foster care like it was yesterday, I was terrified. I knew the next step was all me. No one was out there to lean on, no one sitting at home worried about my safety, no empty bedroom at my parents house to land in if I fell. I had gone eleven years in the foster care system without ever learning the importance of vehicle maintenance, the credit system, a resume, or how important it is to save money. Honestly, I didn't even know how to make myself presentable; makeup and fashion are not exactly priority lessons for foster kids. I left the system with as much as I came to it; a black bag with my clothes and closest possessions.
After more than thirty homes, 16 schools, and a few juvenile halls that served as respite, it was safe to say that everything in my life was impermanent. I didn't really take stability seriously; in fact, I resented it.
… As most youth approach their 18th birthday, they are excited about new independence. As an “adult”, they may feel ready to make their own decisions, but they also know they can still rely on their family for their support. For youth in foster care, turning 18 is most often overwhelming. The services and guidance they have relied on, can easily come to an end. Without legal permanency, these young adults find themselves faced with the possibility of not having the people or supports that can help guide them as they transition to becoming an adult in this complicated world. Having someone to provide guidance, support, and practice with decision making can certainly help make this transition easier.
For me, I was in and out of foster care my entire life. I experienced every placement type imaginable, but I never found a family or place to call home. Instead, I became one of the 900 or so young adults in Arizona who age out of foster care every year. At age 18, I was suddenly responsible for myself with no one else really accountable to ME to help me safely find my way.
Submit Your Story
*Anyone submitting a story must be 18 years of age or older.
Winner of drawing for $500 will be chosen on August 1st.