I have very few fond memories of my childhood. I can tell you I loved my mother and my older brother with every ounce of my being. They were my world, my rock, my everything. I can remember when it was just the three of us, my mother worked two jobs to support us, but still made sure to give us the love and support we needed. At the age of eight, my mother married, and for a while things were great. My step-father was supportive and treated me like his biological child. All that changed when my mother became pregnant with my younger brother. My step-father became physically and verbally abusive towards me and my older brother. Due to feeling helpless, my mother was unable to help. I became depressed, started fighting in school and the community. I reached out to family, but no one wanted to get involved. One day, when I was thirteen years old, my paternal grandfather came into the picture and offered to take custody of me and my older brother. Prior to this I had no relationship with my biological father or his family. This arrangement lasted about a month, as my father and grandfather did not accept me. My Grandfather packed my clothing in two garbage bags and dropped me off at the offices of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (at that time known as Bureau of Child Welfare). I had no idea what was happening. I was young, confused, and scared. After waiting for two hours, I met with a woman who informed me she would be placing me with a family. I immediately began to cry because I realized I was not going home. I did not know if I would ever see my mother or brothers again.
That is the day my life in foster care began. I was placed in several different homes because my behavior became progressively worse. I was angry with the world for my situation and I felt all of humanity needed to pay for the hurt I felt. My relationship with my mother was not strong. I blamed her for what was happening, and for not protecting me. My older brother did his best to visit me and let me know he was still in my corner. Without him I may not be here today. At the age of 17, with the support of my brother and a Caseworker, I decided to change the path I was on. I attended school regularly and upon graduation I entered the Army. After serving in the military, with the help of my older brother, I entered college. I graduated from college with dual degrees in Psychology and Public Justice.
Now, I am a Health Care Integrator with Abbott House. I have always known my future was working in Child Welfare. My goal in Child Welfare is to show children in the Foster Care System that they do not have to be a victim of their circumstances. The odds were stacked against me and there were several people in my life who repeatedly told me I would not live to see my 21 birthday. Those individuals became my motivation. I refused to fail simply because my childhood was filled with dysfunction and chaos. It took time but I began to love myself. I began to see that I was worthy of all things good, just as any other person. I held the key to changing my life and making it one filled with love and purpose and I have never looked back.