My story is not an easy one. I wish no child to have the childhood that I had.
But I have been asked to share it. And the reason is a really good one. One that I know has the power to transform a life, as it did my own. After a very long journey, I am able to tell you about it from a position of strength and faith.
May is Foster Care Awareness Month. On April 29, along with other volunteers, friends and my colleagues at MetroPCS, I will be assisting The Children’s Center in tying blue ribbons around trees and lampposts in Midtown Detroit.
Our goal is to generate recognition for the critical role foster care plays in the lives of children and families in crisis in our community. Organizations like The Children’s Center successfully manage as many as 200 children in foster care on any given day.
I was raised in foster care. I can tell you there is a desperate need for loving, stable, safe homes.
I moved to Michigan from Utah with my mom when I was very young. It’s a story involving generations of abuse, and we moved to get away from her family.
When we arrived, unfortunately, our lives didn’t improve. My mother struggled and fell into serious addiction. As a child, my home was populated with prostitutes, crack and heroin. There was no one to teach me anything, not even potty training. It was not a safe environment.
Even today, I can perfectly remember the smell of crack. That smell haunts me.
One day, a policeman and a social worker came to the door of the house, and took me away. I never lived with my mother again.
I was seven years old at the time. After four years in foster care, I was adopted by a family in Livonia. They had a son the same age, but it was a terrible situation. Although the mother had a career and appeared to be high-functioning to the outside world, she was mentally ill with schizophrenia.
At one point, the family removed the door to my bedroom and made me to sleep on the floor. They threatened me and abused me because they were was worried I would tell. When I was 14, my adoptive mother shot at me with a gun.
For my own safety, I was removed from the home and sent to Vista Maria in Dearborn Heights.
That’s when an angel came and saved me.
Her name was Chris Formigan. She took me in two days before I turned 15, and gave me the love and structure I needed. She knew I was rebellious, but she only took in teenagers like me, so she knew how to deal with me. I lived with other girls who were troubled, and had been sexually abused and beaten. It was the first time in my life that I felt a sisterhood.
The role foster care played in helping me become strong again was crucial. Now, nearly 25 years later, I am a successful mom, wife and careerwoman. I have been with my husband for 20 years, and we have two amazing children.
Foster care is where I experienced love, care and community for the first time. As foster kids, we did not have luxuries, but we appreciated opportunities that other kids didn’t. I felt “chosen” by Chris, who gave me tough love and the chance to live a normal life.
I will be forever grateful to her.
I hope others like Chris will consider caring for kids in foster care. It made all the difference in my life. That was where I began to find the strength I have today.
Veronica Wilkins, lives in Westland, Michigan. She is a Regional Sales Director at MetroPCS, where she has worked for seven years.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, email Shereen Allen-Youngblood or call (313) 262-1119.