Growing up, I lived in several foster homes from birth to seven years old. Since I am Native American, the tribe would step in and help us get back to our mother. Which completely confused us. Each home had their own rules and their down expectations, we had to follow each household rules, but every time we went back with our mom, we were told to not mention our foster families “rules.”
Now, this is not your typical ” The child grows up in one household with one set of rules and expectations..” No.. I had to meet several expectations and move in several different directions. I had to figure this out fast.
In these foster homes, I was expected to listen to the rules and expected do act like a certain way. Like normal children right? People who foster try their best to help and act “normal” and give us the best experiences right? Well, with each foster home comes a whole new set of rules and expectations. My earliest foster home that I can remember at age 5, I was expected to clean my room, help with cleaning, help with gardening, sit quietly before meals and say my prayers. They would sing “You are my sunshine” to me every night. I could ride my bike only to the driveway. I could not play with play-doh ( I never asked why I could not play, we just were never allowed) and I was expected to wear a dress everyday ( I hated wearing dresses, because they always got in the way when I wanted to play). I could not play in the mud or climb trees. I was taught how to plant a garden and they even let me eat fresh green beans from the garden. I was expected to walk every night with them around the block and not complain. I remember once going to my foster grandmas house and she taught me to make a crown out of dandelions and that same day there was a tornado that touched down and it knocked down a tree that was in front of the house, right into the living room. It destroyed half the house and nearly hit us. I remember pulling a mattress over my sister to protect her. Right after the storm, I got in trouble afterwards for only protecting my sister and not myself.
My next foster home, I did not really stay there long. They did everything for me. Spoon fed me, talk to me like I was 2. I was 6 at the time and didn’t really like it. I remember asking questions about different things. Why was the sun yellow? Why was the grass green. You know typical curious questions. I was quickly “shhh” because to them , children were seen and not heard. They would watch me when I played outside. I would be playing house in the backyard and either the foster mom or foster dad would be sitting on the back porch just watching me play.
My last foster home and final foster home, I finally got adopted at age 9. They had a whole new set of rules that I was expected to follow. I had to clean my room, learn to clean, learn to cook, play outside until it got dark. Could not bike in the street. We would pray every night and wash our hands before dinner. We played outside , but we were not allowed in the street. I played in the mud and climbed so many trees. I was allowed to be a “monkey.” At this point, I was just confused. My sister and I really were not sure which rules to follow or our expectations. We did not know if we would leave this house and go somewhere else. It was hard for us to learn the rules, we were taught so many things in different ways that we eventually wanted to do things our own way. My sister took a different route and acted out, while I learned to develop how I can fit in this society.
Just when I thought I had it down, everything changed and when things change people either act out more or learn to keep it all to themselves. I had to adjust to change, I guess that is why I have learned to be a very patience person. I observe the changes and act from there. I won’t act first, with all the foster homes I have been through, I found that acting first is not a good thing.
With all the different foster homes that I have been through and some that I do not even remember, they all had different rules and expectations that I had to follow, they all had different experiences that I took with me. Even with all these difference, they had one thing in common, I was never asked what I knew. I was never asked if I knew how to clean or how to grow a garden or how to ride a bike. Each home assumed I did not know how to do these things. Each home , I learned a new lesson, a new way of thinking and new way of life. I would live a whole life before moving to a new home, yet I was never asked about all the “basic life skills” that I knew.
My next entry I am going go more into ” Do I have voice?” Some homes I began to wonder if I would be heard or did people assume they knew what was best for me?