05.18.2018

Youth in Foster Care Show Me What It Means to Be Brave

By Skylar Cole, Senior Education Specialist

De’Avieona is a junior at Lincoln High School and one of the many students on my case load who inspire me. Still a teenager, you would not expect her to have an adult’s perspective or the depth of reflection you develop with distance and time.

However, you will find that De’Avieona, 17, is more reflective and gracious about family dynamics and struggles than most teenagers. Nearly all of my youth are. I think this comes from having to know and experience things our culture considers “adult concerns” at a young age. These are things that youth who grow up in affluence or stability haven’t necessarily experienced. Opportunities to reflect in a supportive environment can help us all put the pieces together.

De’Avieona and I spent one of our weekly meetings interviewing each other in an attempt to show the grace, bravery and resilience I see from my students every day.

Skylar: “Do you feel like you can share your story with other people about why you’re in foster care?”

De’Avieona: “Yes. I mean, that shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of. If anything, that should be the reason why you want to help and that you should change things. You shouldn’t use it to get pity. If you go out there and tell people what you’ve been through, that you can overcome it, that would probably give them some hope.”

Skylar: “What sort of changes in the world would you ask for if you could? In foster care or before, what would you have needed to have been different in your life?”

De’Avieona: “Probably the lack of support and attention. Before I was in care, I was living with my parents, and we were all distant. My mom and dad were always arguing. My sister and I hated each other, and my little brother didn’t know what was going on. He just wanted to be close with all of us.”

Skylar: “What is it like for you having your dad off doing his own thing?”

De’Avieona: “At first I hated it. It made me mad, and he knew that it was making me mad. But, I mean, I’m a child and I really couldn’t do anything about it. Now I’ve gotten used to it. It’s still hard because he is my dad. He went from being there to giving up. I don’t even know what happened. One day, he was just like, ‘I’m done.’ ”

Skylar: “That’s really hard. Everybody in these situations is a person. Your dad feels like people are attacking him. He may mess up, give up and all those things, but he’s still a person with feelings who probably still struggles and hurts to be away from you guys.”

De’Avieona: “Yeah.”

Skylar: “What drives you to keep trying to be successful?”

De’Avieona: “Well, for one, it would probably be myself, because you can’t change unless you actually want to. So I’d start with telling myself that I have to do this to be where I want to be, so there’s that, and then there’s the secondary support and the school support.”

Skylar: “So what do you want for yourself?”

De’Avieona: “I want peace and freedom. I wouldn’t say I want everything to go back to normal, because it wasn’t good then, but I just want everything to fall into place for everybody. There’s always going to be bumps through life. But right now, it would just be nice to have some peace—for everybody, family especially, to live happily ever after.”

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About the Author

Skylar Cole is a Senior Education Specialist at Treehouse, serving youth at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. She holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Chicago and has nearly a decade of experience supporting the education and mental health of teenagers. She feels deeply grateful to be in the lives of the students she serves.


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