The sunshine, warmer temperatures and spring storms of May once brought me both into and out of some of my life’s most intense storms.
Until I was 12 years old, I’d lived in a storm of abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, and negativity that was my home – my family. I’d been introduced to sex too early in far too many experiences. I’d witnessed my father crack my mother’s head on a kitchen cabinet and tip a table full of our dinner over for one too few pork chops. I’d heard of my own worthlessness and stupidity more than I could count, and had become very familiar with the sound of a cracking belt or the whistle of a fly-swatter, as it flew through the air. I’d felt the sting of my parents hand and the burn of their words. It was like the storm sirens were going off around me every day and I couldn’t escape…I could only survive…find a shelter, dig in, and be determined to make it through.
In May 1990, I found myself entering a new storm season…unfamiliar and uncontrollable. It was like a strong and ferocious wind that would blow me around like a leaf that couldn’t find a place to land. It seemed like I was watching a tornado that kept changing course, a hurricane that twisted off course, a flood that would fill every crack it could find. I was entering a major storm that would completely change the destiny of anyone who could survive.
I was in foster care.
I would spend the next six years of my life blowing in the wind, at the whim of my case workers, my therapists, the court, the group home staff, and anyone else who felt they knew what was in my “best interest.” Over the course of my stay in foster care, I would experience 7 moves, each with a big trash bag full of my belongings. Each with good-byes and “we’ll keep in touch” that never really did and each with strange and uncomfortable “hello” and “we’re glad you’re here.” Each move brought new rules and new expectations, with very little regard for who I really was and I really needed. Each new home introduced me to new and unfamiliar traditions, roles, and relationships. Each move meant I had to change…like that little leaf was being chipped away and beaten against the trees, losing little tiny pieces with each flip of the wind.
The scariest clouds, however, were in the faces of those that looked down on me because I was “a foster kid”; …. Continue reading Serena’s post on her blog When Foster Care Goes Right.
Serena L. Hanson, LMSW is an alumni of the foster care system in Kansas. After years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in the home of her parents, she was placed into the child welfare system at the age of 12 and spent the next 6 years in care, experiencing 10 moves during that time. Serena was never reintegrated into her home and was never made legally available for adoption. She aged out of the fsoter care system to a life of independence at 18 years old. Serena went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Family Counseling from Barclay College and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Newman University. Almost immediately after aging out of foster care, Serena married her high school sweetheart and began working in child welfare and giving back to the system that dramatically impacted her life.
Serena operates, independently, as a Child Welfare Consultant and Trainer and is an experienced motivational speaker, workshop and seminar facilitator, resource family developer, program administrator and advocate. She is also currently a Community Adjunct Faculty with the University of Oklahoma Anne & Henry Zarrow School of Social Work. She and her husband, Justin, currently live in Norman, OK with their four children – two boys, Shawn and Derek, ages 14 and 12 and two girls, Chloe and Sarah, ages 10 and 8, but they are moving home to Kansas in the coming weeks.
Connect with Serena online at www.whenfostercaregoesright.com