At our 14th annual Power of Possibilities Breakfast, we heard from some of our families about their stories of trauma and triumph. One story from a brave, young woman named Nijeria, touched on how foster care changed her life:
I come from a broken home and a history in the foster care system. When I was 12 years old, I was molested by my mother’s boyfriend. He lived in our home and when my mother would go to work or be in some other place in the house, he would touch me inappropriately. Late at night, he would creep into my room and bad things would happen.
I knew what he was doing was wrong because I felt uncomfortable. I felt confused and powerless. I felt my voice was stripped from me. It became extremely hard for me to talk about what was happening to me or to think about it myself.
I eventually told my pastor and while others saw it as a move of bravery, I was afraid. I knew my mother would not believe me. When I did tell her, she tried to convince me that he blacked out and it wasn’t what I thought.
Years later, while my abuse had stopped, I learned that he had it picked it up with my younger sister. You can imagine how angry I was. I felt like I let my sister down by not being open about what happened to me. I promised my sister things would get better and that everything was going to change.
I connected with one of my mentors who anonymously called Child Protective Services about what was happening to my sister. My younger sisters and I were soon placed in a girls’ home together and my brother was placed with a foster family. We had a lot to figure out, but at least I knew we were finally safe.
After several weeks, my friend’s family, The Williams, asked if I wanted to live with them. I was afraid to leave my sisters. I worried that my sisters would feel betrayed by leaving them at the girl’s home. The Williams assured me they would help make sure my sisters were placed in a good home.
Eventually, the Williams family officially became my foster family. They are the family that I had always hoped and dreamed of. At last I had found a place that really cared for me. The Williams welcomed me with open arms. They took care of my needs financially and helped me with college. That was the first time I felt that the foster care system was working for me and not against me. The Children’s Center did not fail me.
I began going to bi-weekly life-skill sessions at The Children’s Center. They taught me about financial literacy, college life and personal daily living skills like healthy cooking, organization and creating a schedule. They prepared me for life.
I am a living testimony of what God has done and what The Children’s Center has helped me through. Many say foster care is a burden or one of the worst things to happen to them. But I say foster care is the best thing that has happened to me. I left a broken family and was welcomed into a healthy family.
I’m now a junior at Western Michigan University. I study Business Law. I plan to go to law school and become an attorney. I’ve remained on the Dean’s List and earned the opportunity to study abroad for the Fall 2019 semester through foster care scholarships.
To those struggling and feeling alone in foster care, I say, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Thanks to you, I am living proof that traumatic experiences can make or break you, but they do not define you!