St. Paul, Minnesota
Fosters: youth who have entered the foster care system or out-of-placement care before the age of 18.
Going into the foster care system at the age of 15 was a unique experience, to say the least. Like many Fosters, I did not have any supportive adults in my life who I was close to before entering the system. Instead, my experiences with adults were often negative. I was told I would not be successful, that I would end up just like my biological parents, and that I would never attend college.
Not having a supportive adult in my life who I could go to for basic needs, talk to me about issues affecting my mental health, or even console me, definitely affected my self-worth. This was often the root of my suicidal ideation as a teen. As a Foster, feeling as if you’re not good enough or unlovable is not uncommon. When you’re constantly being told you’re worthless, blamed for your life circumstances, and not given support by the people who are supposed to support you most in this world, it’s easy to turn to self-blame. That self-blaming led to me to develop depression and anxiety. These circumstances and mental health issues also led to recklessness, which led me to become involved in the juvenile justice system.
After entering the foster care system and getting my basic needs met for the first time in my life, as well as being placed in kinship care where I had one supportive adult, my mental health, slowly but surely, improved. I began to think about my future beyond the next immediate step and really began to envision what my life could look like in a positive way.
Looking back, the kindness of my close friends and chosen family, and the hope for my younger siblings to have a better life helped me get through my circumstances. I truly believe that if I had supportive adults throughout my entire adolescence, I would not have struggled in the same ways that I did as a child and young adult.
Having supportive parents and adults in your life should not be a privilege. In my experience, this is a main component of suicide prevention. I believe that everyone, especially children, deserves adults who love, support, and value them.