Guest post by Brandy Ingram, youth coordinator at Federation of Families. This is part one of her blog post series. The FOF is an organization focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs and their families.
All the youth in the leadership program I coordinate have powerful, emotional stories. They have gone through things no child should even know about. After sharing my story and hearing their stories, the outcome was empowering for not only them, but for me as well. One thing, I’ve shared with the youth, is that you are not your diagnosis, it is only a part of you and how you deal with it and live with it is what makes the difference between being a productive citizen and not.
Here is one child’s story:
Sarah*, 13 years old
I got taken away from my birth mom; she had me and my twin brother at 13 years old. She had been in human trafficking since she was a little girl; in my country that was very common. My mom is from Panama and my dad is Puerto Rican. My dad was in gangs and that was the only family that he had. I always wondered if my family knows that I still exist, that I’m still alive.
I was separated from my twin brother at age 5. He was still at the orphanage when the people who adopted me took me away. I screamed and I would not stop crying because he was basically the reason why I survived. I wish that I could see him and my mommy and daddy. I ain’t gonna lie, every time I see a family I cry and every time I see twins I get upset and cry. I always wish that I could have a good family.
When I was 6, I was brought to the U.S. by this adopted family. By age 7, I was being abused by the family, my dad would hit my mom and my mom would hit me and then put makeup on me and tell me that I looked beautiful. I have been raped, abused, I have abused heroin, which my adopted dad started me on by shooting it into my arms.
For five years, I did not say anything, but then my best friend called the police and helped to save my life. DCF took me away. I admit that I don’t miss them, but I do miss being with a family, because that is all I ever wanted. I have a lot of trust issues, but I’m learning how to try and trust people, but every time I get close, I have to go.
When I got into foster care, I did heroin; I was addicted. I got into a couple of programs, but I started fighting and running away. The longest I stayed away was a month. When I went back to the group home, they ended up sending me to a commitment program.
I got out July 19, 2013. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and it’s really hard to deal with things. I want to change and live a better life. I know that there are going to be bumps in the road, but as long as I have God, I’m okay. I’m trying to learn how to open up, instead of holding everything inside and it is very hard, but I will try.
*Name changed for privacy.