Re: The pain of ‘aging out’ Oct. 12
Thank you for this uplifting story. Young people like Ronda give us hope that the most difficult circumstances can be overcome.
When my children were teenagers, and mostly living with their father, I married a First Nations man who, like Ronda, was taken from his birth parents at age two and suffered heartbreaking abuse in foster care.
Dragged back to the same family whenever he ran away, or thrown into correctional institutions, by age 14 he was in adult prison, sentenced to 15 months by a judge who was fed up with his constant shenanigans. He grew up street-smart, paranoid, explosively violent and addicted to crack cocaine.
When I met him, he was 38, on parole from a second stretch in prison and determined to conquer his demons.
Sadly, despite help from professionals and from me, he was unable to shake free of his agonizing past. Watching him try almost destroyed me. His rages were terrifying – like being in the path of a tornado with nowhere to run. It messed me up for a long time after I left him.
My daughter-in-law, also First Nations, is another child-services horror story.
She solved the ‘aging out’ problem by giving birth to my grandson at age 19 – a desperate but understandable decision that turned out badly for all of us. Four years after his birth, she killed her best friend and is now getting the help she needs in prison.
Her lawyer described her this way: “a high school drop out at Grade 9… a chaotic upbringing… running away… a suicide attempt… a revolving door of group homes and foster families…started methamphetamine when she was 14.”
I had almost recovered from those years with my husband, only to get hit with the murder and the loss of my only grandchild to an inaccessible caregiver. The suffering it brought shattered us deep.
With both my sons lost and adrift and at odds, we are a family no more.
Ripples of sorrow spread far and wide, from a single ministry stone. Anger and hurt passed from one victim to the next.
The cost of not fixing our foster-care system is a high price to pay –not only for the children in care, but for every person who loves them.
The way to stop the ripples is to not throw the stone in the first place.
Maureen Kerr, Surrey