What It Was Like In Foster Care.

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

Anyone who has ever been in the system or ever been in a group home or foster home has their own story to tell some are worse than others and some are better than others this is all from my perspective and my experience I can't speak for everyone I can only tell you how it was for me. Near the end of 1999, I had just turned 11 years old I had moved from my grandparent's house in Cambridge to live with my aunt and her partner in Etobicoke. I promised I would be good and I would behave and do everything I was supposed to do. When I started going to my local school I couldn't make any friends. I was being bullied, I was being made fun of for the shoes I wore, the clothes I wore, just about everything. My aunt tried her hardest to give me everything she thought I deserved and more. She would go to thrift stores and buy me what she thought was the nicest clothes. She couldn't afford to buy me brand name clothing. Instead of being grateful for the things she had done for me, I took all my anger out on her instead. My anger from being bullied at school all day and everything else that upset me somehow became her fault. I used to yell and scream and say "I'm not wearing those ugly clothes, I'm not wearing used clothes!" She used to cry because she couldn't understand why I was being so mean. When I look back now I was being unreasonable and I can't believe what a little shit I was. My aunt wasn't very well, she had a lot of health issues so unfortunately she couldn't take the stress of me constantly throwing these temper tantrums. Her partner would pick me up after school, and I would stay with him until he finished work. This happened for quite a while. One particular day in December of 1999, he once again picked me up from school and I went to work with him. There was nothing unusual that I could tell. When we got home that evening and I walked in the door they both sat me down and explained to me that I would be going to a foster home and that a Children's Aid worker was on her way to pick me up. My bags were already packed and she would be there shortly. I felt betrayed, angry, sad, and scared. I begged my aunt "please please don't let me go there, I'm sorry I'll be good." I said. It was too late. When the Cas worker came to pick me up. She brought me to my first home which happened to be located in the area of St Clair and Dufferin area of Toronto. This was supposed to be temporary as this home was meant for teenagers and I was only 11. The foster mother was a single middle-aged woman who ran the house, but she was great. She was so nice to me. I was the youngest kid in the house and she treated me like a princess. Even when another home came available for me to go to, she requested to keep me. She used to refer to me as her baby doll. She never had a young one like me in her house before, so she used to take me shopping and take me out for dinner and to fancy high-end hair salons to get my hair done. All of the older teenagers in the house would always want to dress me up like them and take me out and show me off to all their friends. One day I would have braids in my hair and baggy jeans with chains hanging off of them, the next day I would have makeup on and dresses. I loved this place, but I still missed my family. nothing could replace them no matter how much fun I had or how spoiled I was. One day after school I came home to find out that my foster mother was in the hospital and she was very ill. Without notice, my CAS worker was there to pick me up and relocate me to another home. I never got to say goodbye to anyone in the house including my foster mother it was awful. I missed home even more now and again I was scared because I didn't know where I was going. This time my worker brought me to Ajax Pickering to another home with six other girls and again like my previous home she was also a single Foster mother. This home wasn't so bad either I had my spats with the other girls in the house as if they were my siblings, but we did all kinds of cool things we went to the beach we went on long drives we went out to dinner often this foster parent did so many activities with us. Once again I was at a new school with no friends. I still remember the time our foster mother woke us up early in the morning it had been raining hard that day and she woke everyone up in the house with excitement "Put your bathing suits on and grab the shampoo and the soap we're going outside to shower." I thought this was strange. "okay, let's do this." We did go outside and we showered in the rain, as odd as it was, it was fun and something I never forgot. I lived at that house for about six months before my mother was able to get custody of me. I moved in with her. Now my mother struggled all my life with alcoholism that's partially the reason I wasn't living with her in the beginning. She went to rehab and she got sober and was doing very well. She had a job as a waitress and she had an apartment. I was excited to finally be back with my mom. I have two younger sisters who were living in Cambridge with my grandparent's cousins at this time. A few months into living with my mother, I came home from school to see her sitting at the table drinking a beer with one of her friends. I was 12 at this time and I lost my shit on her. I yelled at my mom and I called her some nasty names. I even remember throwing a plate at her like it was a frisbee and throwing my Easy-Bake oven at her too. She looked me straight in the eye and said "if you don't stop this right now I'm picking up the phone and calling CAS to come to pick you up!" I didn't stop. She picked up the phone and she did call. I still can't believe she did that. I honestly thought she was bluffing. So off I went again back to another foster home, this time I was sent to a home in Brampton. This one was by far the worst home I had been in. There were two foster parents a mother and a father and they had two biological sons of their own. They had a huge home and a nice home at that. My room was in the basement, that's where I spent all my time. Not by choice I might add. I wasn't allowed to come upstairs and roam the house, I wasn't allowed to eat meals with them either. I had to wait until their family had finished eating dinner before I could come upstairs and have dinner at the table by myself. Their kids would come downstairs in the basement and play in the rec room. Sometimes I would see them and I would start talking to them, but I would get in trouble and told to go back to my room and their mother would tell her sons "don't talk to her!" One day I got the flu, I was vomiting and I had a high fever. I was lethargic and very sick, I just wanted to stay in my bed. The Foster mother was a principal at a school and she refused to take the day off work to look after me. She dragged me to work with her puking in a bucket all the way. She brought me into the school's library where they had a couch and left me there all day alone. Classes of kids came in and out all day long just staring at me wondering why I was laying on the couch repeatedly throwing up in a bucket instead of being at home. Several teachers and the librarian came to me throughout the day and asked me who I belonged to. Despite many attempts to explain what was happening to my worker she never believed me, no one believed me, why would they after all I was just a kid. By this time my two sisters had left my grandparent's cousin's house in Cambridge and were also now in CAS in Toronto themselves. I knew the only way I was going to get out of this awful home was to ask my worker to let me live with my sisters. Luckily the foster parent who was taking care of my sisters had the best heart and she said of course she would take me in. I got transferred after two months from Brampton to North York to be in the same home as my younger sisters. Even in this new home, I struggled a lot with getting along with the other members of the home and the staff members, and even the foster parents. I was always grounded I was always assumed to be lying I pretty much lived in my room. Because this foster parent was a single mother herself she hired staff members to come in and out and help. Some of these staff members were fantastic and I still talk to some of them today, others not so much. One of them I remember threatening to kill. That got me grounded for at least a week. She played favoritism to some of the girls and I saw right through her, but she put on a good act in front of the other staff members and foster parent. So once again no one listens to the kid. I spent about 6 months at this home before I got a phone call one evening saying that my dad had gone to court and that I could go and live with him if I wanted to. Without even a second thought I said yes and I packed my stuff as quick as I could. It took me all of 5 minutes in total. At that moment I wasn't thinking of leaving my sister's behind I was just thinking of getting out of there I had enough I just wanted to go home wherever that was. I know what you're thinking why wasn't my sister's going too? The thing is my father worked 12-hour days he went to work at 4:30 in the morning and didn't come home until 6:30 at night. My sisters were only nine and six I was 12. I was capable of getting myself up in the morning feeding dressing and walking to school by myself they were not old enough yet to do all those things. I spent much of my childhood taking care of my sisters it was my turn to finally be a child, not a mother. My father and I were shamed several times by many people. Him for not taking my sisters, and me for leaving them. Even though we're all adults now I'm still full of guilt for leaving my sister's behind. I'd like to think they understand why I did it but if the situation were reversed I'm sure I would have some sort of resentment myself so I don't blame them. My sisters never did get out of CAS, they were made Crown wards. They both stayed in the same foster home until they were old enough to leave on their own. My relationship with my sisters now is better than ever but that's not to say it's still not strained on occasion. We technically didn't grow up together and we missed a lot of each other's milestones. Being in a foster home is not something I have publicly displayed until now. It wasn't because of shame or embarrassment. I just felt it unnecessary to share that part of my life. It wasn't the best part of my life and not something worth remembering. There are several misconceptions about children who have been in foster homes or the system. A lot of people believe that they grow up to be on drugs or homeless or that even their children end up in Cas. I'd like to think that I'm part of the exception to that. I have never tried hard drugs I'm a good mother and everything I do is done with my children's best interest at heart. I hardly drink alcohol, and I'm thriving as an adult. Anyone can be a product of their situation or we can learn and grow from it. I chose to take my experiences and grow from them.

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