Drs: Growing Up In Foster Care + How To Help Current Crisis

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The Drs: Man Shares Story Of Growing Up In Foster Care

The Doctors heard from a man who was born in Massachusetts in 1967 to a mother who was in a losing battle with alcoholism and a father who was never present in his life. His first memory was the day he was taken from his mother, never to see her again. He went into the foster care system at the age of three and was placed with a foster care family, describing the environment as “violent.” He was constantly in fear, and suffered from beatings and undernourishment. He was constantly reminded that he was “disposable” and lived that way for 12 years.

Drs: Growing Up In Foster Care + How To Help Current Crisis

The Doctors talked about the challenges facing young people in the foster care system. One man shared his experience growing up in foster care and how you can help kids currently in the system. (pgordon / flickr)

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One day a neighbor saw him reading a book and later on that night, she knocked on the door with a box of books. He said reading became his secret weapon, and he thought he could live that way one day. He realized that although his childhood was taken from him, they couldn’t have his future too. He knew it was on him to change his own life, which drove his desire to go to college and become a professional, as well as a husband and a father. He ended a tragedy rather than recreating it, saying, “You’re not measured by what you inherit. You’re measured by what you build.”

The Drs: “A Chance In The World” Book

The Doctors welcomed author and child advocate Steve Pemberton to the show, and thanked him for sharing his incredible story. He said his first memories are of him being disconnected and feeling like he didn’t belong. As he grew into manhood, he envisioned himself as a fighting detective who was trying to figure out where he came from and who he belonged to.

His book is titled A Chance in the World and Steve explained that when he was just a little over one year old, his mother asked a babysitter to come pick him up and take him somewhere else, but then wouldn’t return for days or even weeks at a time. He said one man even said, “This little boy doesn’t have a chance in the world,” which is what inspired the title. He said we often say that phrase, but for him, that’s all he ever really wanted.

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The Drs: Foster Child Turned His Life Around

As Steve got older and became a husband and father, he was having a conversation with his 6-year-old son one morning. His son asked him if he had a daddy when he was a little boy, and Steve was completely taken back. He said he learned that children don’t always ask questions when you want them to, because he didn’t plan on telling them his life story until they were much older. He told his son “no” and he was so confused because he didn’t understand why every little boy didn’t have someone like his own father. His son then said to him, “Well, maybe next time you’ll have a daddy.”

The Doctors shared that it’s estimated on any given day that 400,000 kids are in foster care. A recent report says that children who are homeless are more likely to graduate on time than those in foster care, which is truly sad.

The Drs: Is The Foster Care System In Crisis?

When asked if the foster care system was in crisis, Steve said it is. He said people romanticize foster care by thinking about orphan Annie, but foster care usually has a much more tragic story. Annually, 25,000 children at the age of 18 are “cast off into society having had no resources” and they often become a part of other government systems, which Steve said doesn’t match up with the greatness of America.

The Drs: How To Help Kids In Foster Care

Steve said it takes just one interaction, because for him it was just someone bringing him a box of books. You don’t have to be well-known or wealthy to make a difference. Steve said you can become a court appointed special advocate, or CASA, for the child.

Steve also shared that the only picture that exists of him as a child was the one that was in his case file for the foster care system. One of the things you can do is share the love of pictures. Go to a foster care agency and take pictures of children, so that they have something. You can donate books or even take a child in. He said he’s an example of what can happen when someone does one small thing.

Have you ever helped a child in foster care? Do you plan on trying to help now after hearing an example of a tragic situation?

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