Foster parents help give teen new outlook on life
Monica, 19, entered the foster care system at 4 years old. At 18, she chose to leave but held on to connections with some of her foster families.
The foster care system is not easy to be a part of, Monica makes clear. “I was always told because of my race, where I came from, and because of other things I would either be in jail, have a large number of children, or would just never live to see my 18th birthday,” she said.
Not all of the foster families changed that outlook for her, but the last few did, making her feel comfortable about her identity, she says. “They were more encouraging about everything, which really helped. They didn’t make it seem like because I am black I would end up a certain way.”
She appreciated, she says, some of her foster parents encouraging her by showing and discussing examples of successful black individuals.
Monica said she holds steadfast to not conforming to the stereotypes others often assume about her. “You can’t let others decide who you want to be,” she insists.
She recounts the ups and downs of the system, never holding back her opinion. She says, “if people didn’t judge foster kids off of what others have said or what [their] paperwork says, and if more foster parents took into consideration [that] not all youth are the same,” then foster youth would see better outcomes.
When asked what she would say to her foster parents now, she smiles wide with a firm and sincere “thank you.” Monica adds that although it is a big responsibility, more caring individuals and families need to step up and become foster parents.
“A lot of people in this world have good hearts,” said Monica. “There is no better way to show your love and heart than to show love to a child – a child who hasn’t been shown love before.”
In Minnesota, 16,500 children are in foster care in 2018, a 14% increase since 2016. For more information about foster care, see the department’s foster care fact sheet (PDF). For information about how to become a foster parent, visit the foster care webpage.