As an international student from a poverty country, Vietnam, with minimal opportunities, I was so looking forward to studying in the United States. Little did I know, that I would face one of the biggest challenges of my life by being placed into the US foster care system shortly after my arrival.
In my home country, abuse is rarely heard of nor taken seriously, if reported. My parents back in Vietnam and my US extended family had placed much trust in this person who was now a part of our family. Unfortunately, he took advantage of me and broke our trust. Not knowing what the consequences would be, I felt it necessary to tell someone about my current situation. This resulted in Child Protective Services removing me from my home that same evening. The waiting area of the CPS office was large but quiet. It was full of the sounds of whispers, typing, and electronic devices. I became even more frightened by the serious looks on all of the workers’ faces. At the time, very little information was given to me. It only added to my fear and confusion. I sat in an empty room and cried while waiting, for what seemed like forever, for someone to speak to me. During this time, all I could think about was how I should not have said anything to anyone. I was confused and very uncomfortable divulging my private life to so many unfamiliar faces.
After all the questioning, it was Dec.12, 2012 (the day that I’ll never forget) 10:30pm when I officially left my family and became a foster kid, on my way to my first foster home.
Marty, my first foster mother, was kind but very serious as she welcomed me into her home. She knew nothing about my case and I waited three days, in the same clothes with none of my things, for the courts to give permission to get them from my family’s home. Marty’s home was comfortable enough and her family was kind to me. Nonetheless, it was a very challenging time as I tried to make sense of this new life while trying to maintain my college prep high school curriculum. It was extremely difficult to focus on school and within a few months of placement, I exhibited signs of stress, depression and difficulty sleeping and eating.
"NO MATTER HOW SMALL, BROKEN, FILTHY THE HOME I LIVED IN, IT WAS STILL HOME."
No matter how small, broken, filthy the home I lived in, it was still home. I did not need a foster parent. I needed a parent. I actually wanted that talk about not staying up too late, not dancing too close to the boys like the “speech” my mom always gave me in Vietnam. I wanted a mother to help me with my hair, to share my excitement, encourage me, and love me. Most foster parents have too many kids and have difficulty providing the necessary attention and care all young people need. I am grateful that, although Marty struggled with her own health problems that ultimately made me have to move, she did support and care for me the best she could for the year I was with her. My current foster parents are providing great parental guidance and I am so grateful to have them in my life. I truly believe in everything happens for a reason and live by this motto. Mrs. Debra is an amazing woman. She’s more than a foster mom, she’s my best friend. I feel completely comfortable sharing everything with her. Our talks at midnight or 2am in her bed are always my favorite.
This past two and a half years have made me stronger, wiser, more humble, strong-minded, and an independent person. I would not change my foster care experience for anything as it has broadened my perspective on life and opened my eyes to future possibilities.
Editor note: Lindsey has agreed to share her story with A&C followers in hopes of inspiring strength in other children who find themselves in similar struggles. She will continue to share her perspectives on a regular basis, so please check back!