A glimpse into foster care reaffirms her will to make a difference


EL PASO, Texas — Growing up, I thought having my parents split-up was the most devastating event in my life. My grades in school took a downward slope as I knew my life would never be “normal” again. I would wake up in the mornings knowing that one parent would drop me off at school and the other would be there to pick me up. I knew I had two places to call home and that my time spent at each one had to be considerate of the other.

The idea of a split family was a horrible one nonetheless, but a survivable one for sure. I spent a few of my years feeling sorry for myself because my family was a bit unorthodox in the eyes of many. Now, I know I was quite lucky.

Last semester I took two classes with Dr. Núñez-Mchiri, both classes were structured in allowing students to give back to their community. One opportunity Dr. Núñez gave us was to help the PRIDE Center, a local non-profit organization, which helps guide foster care for youths who are leaving the system.



My duty as a student was to donate any belongings that no longer were of use – clothes, dishes, canned goods, toiletry, and even kitchen utensils. The chance to donate came at no better time since my sister was moving out of our childhood home and everything that once belonged to our family had to be emptied. I grabbed bags of clothes, jackets, dishes and stuffed animals and packed them into the back of my truck and delivered them next morning.

At the last moments prior to entering the PRIDE Center, I had envisioned foster care in a completely different light. Having experience as a volunteer of other organizations, and coming from a divorced family, I understood what it felt like to be part of a broken family – a struggle. It wasn’t until I began interviewing and learning more about the system that I realized that foster care is much more than a struggle, it’s a way of life.

An interview I had with a young man who had left foster care a year ago, helped me put a few things into perspective. Tony is a 19-year-old who has been in foster care since he was nine. Tony and his two older sisters were taken from their mother by Child Protective Services. After a thorough investigation, CPS concluded that their mother was unfit to care for them and they were placed in foster care.

Initially, Tony and his two older sisters were kept together with the same foster parents. After a year or so, Tony said that they took the oldest sister away and then within time, the younger one was taken as well. Little by little Tony felt lonelier and lonelier losing what was left of his family. Tony didn’t reunite with his sisters again until thre years after their separation.

Tony’s education was also affected by foster care. He dropped out of high school with only a year left and found that foster care had led him to that decision. When asked if foster care played a major role in his decision to drop out, he quickly responded, “Definitely, because it’s kinda stressful being in foster care knowing that all your friends have normal families and you have to be going from house to house, it sucks you know?” But I didn’t know. I didn’t know what it was like not to have a house to go home to at the end of the day. As a matter of fact, as a child, I had two houses to choose from.

Tony went on to tell me of the many houses he was transferred to due to misbehavior, he chose to run away because he was not happy or he chose to misbehave because the foster parents were mean to him. This is where I realized the most important thing about foster care. No matter what, a child will never know what it is like to have a parent, the one person who gave them life.

I will never be able to understand what it is like to be so detached, physically and emotionally from the source that gave me life; I will never know what it is like to feel so different from my peers that the only thing that helps is to run away. Tony taught me a valuable lesson in life – one that I lived by before but never really put value to – appreciate everything you have in life.

The struggle of the voiceless and the emptiness of my peers have always fascinated me but it wasn’t until I met Tony that I knew there was more to life than lending a helping hand. Standing at an arm’s length away and viewing others with sympathy and a degree of understanding was not good enough anymore. I knew I had to do more. This is where I realized that I had to further pursue my degree and begin making a difference in people’s lives with a more hands-on approach.

2 thoughts on “A glimpse into foster care reaffirms her will to make a difference

  1. Well written piece. Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me. I’m fairly harmless outside of the financial markets. Deep down inside, I’m sorry that you had to go through that expeience of having divorced parents: I’d help you, but I don’t know what to do nor say. All I can do is pray for you. I hope that God crings you comfort and eases your suffering a nd bring you happiness, cause you deserve to be happy.

Leave a Reply