I wasn’t in foster care my whole life, but I was involved with the child welfare system for as long as I can remember; family court proceedings, supervised visits, guardian ad litems, social workers, etc. I’ve been reflecting on this lately. When you’ve very young, you’re really not involved in what is going on. You just know there’s a lady coming to talk about your life, or you have to go see this counselor and then there are family court proceedings. Things were happening that I didn’t understand, and as I look back, I feel like I wasn’t really involved in the decision-making process. I certainly didn’t have a voice or feel like I was being heard. As I got older, I felt extremely silenced. I saw and experienced how broken the child welfare system is before I officially went into foster care later in high school.
Child Welfare is more than foster care. It’s a big umbrella that covers not only foster care, but kinship care, juvenile justice cases, mental health, divorce, abuse, and neglect.
What I think is most helpful to the child whose welfare is at stake is having even one person who is there to listen and be supportive. To make you feel seen and heard.
I think, ultimately, it was having people in my life who were there for me that saved me.
This is part II of a VII part series. Next time, Mackenzie gives a shout out to people in her life.