Growing Up in Foster Care: Ana’s Story
Growing up in foster care is a reality for thousands of youths in America. Today we were fortunate to chat with former foster youth and advocate Ana Felix about her experience. Ana spent 12 years in care in 13 different placements. As an adult, Ana makes advocacy a priority to combat the scarce representation of current and foster youth.
During our conversation, Ana shared with us about her transition growing up in foster care. Ana is currently a motivational speaker and came to this because of a social worker mentor. Ana spoke about her mentor,
One of my social workers mentored me while I navigated the system. She helped me get through some tough times just by being a friend to me. She opened the doors for me in the motivational speaking world and inspired me to really go for it. I was able to discover my love for helping others just by sharing a little bit of my story. She really helped me break out of my shell and showed me how to be proud of what life made out of me.
There are many things that foster youth need, safety, love, stability. Ana reminisced about her last placement while growing up in foster care.
My last placement was a positive experience for me in the foster care system. I am beyond grateful to have experienced what it is to be in a real family unit. The up’s and down’s, the disappointments and achievements, the happy and sad moments but most importantly the reprogramming of my heart. I am forever grateful to have gotten the full real life experience of what being in a loving family means and feels like.
Experiencing what a real family unit should feel and look like made me feel capable of having my own family one day. I never wanted to have a family of my own in fear that I would hurt them the way I was hurt as a child. A real fear I had in my heart.
Life Lessons for Growing up in Foster Care
Through her 12 years in the system, Ana learned about people and herself.
The foster care system. In the simplest form, is the bare minimum in every way possible. But there will be some gems in the midst of all the mediocracy. Those people will make it bearable. Those people will help you discover yourself.
This is not to say that the intention of people in care is bad but like with all things, it is imperfect. In Ana’s experience, some are wonderful and others are not as great. Ana spoke about this dichotomy,
The foster care system is great if you happen to fall in the hands of caring individuals who are interested and devoted in giving you a safe environment to grow and flourish. There was more times than not when I ended up in a home that I wanted to run away from. From not being fed, locked in a room for days, not having the proper hygiene, to being abused, I’ve seen and experienced it all.
There is no place safer to a foster child than another foster child. It is like a wolf pack. They will protect their own at all cost. Fighting for our lives is all we know how to do. It is a very contradicting scenario. A foster child. As hurt as they are, can love in the most genuine way. I wish we could see foster care individuals as the warriors they truly are. Some of the strongest individuals I have met, have survived foster care.
Advice and Final Thoughts on Growing Up in Foster Care
Ana spent so much time growing up in foster care we wondered what advice she wished she had been given. Her response,
Try not to make a home out of everyone you meet. But make the best out of every house.
Her advice to those currently in the system is as follows.
Always try to find the positive in your day. There will be a million legitimate reasons to feel bitter, sad, lonely, and unloved so try to give yourself a reason to be happy. Look forward to seeing that teacher every day, passing by that lady who sits in front of the Donut shop, or waiting for your favorite show to come on T.V. Find something. Always be open to healing. You will need answers to your behavior once you become an adult and you can only discover those answers if you allow yourself to heal.
In conclusion, we want to thank Ana for sharing her experience of growing up in foster care. We appreciate her honesty and advice, it is important to hear the voices of those who have gone through the system.
If you are interested in getting involved or sharing your story with Together We Rise, please connect with us here.