How My Journey Began
My name is Kellie and I was placed in a C.C.R. foster home in February, 2008, when I was 13 years old. Before coming to live with my foster family, the Spinks, I had been in foster care for most of my life, including 16 different placements since I was just 4 years old. I was having a lot of problems and my mom was struggling to take care of me. I had been a victim of sexual abuse and was acting out all of the anger that I felt inside. I was lashing out at people, running away, stealing, experimenting with marijuana, and getting into trouble with the law. Even though I knew I could do better if I tried, I was really struggling in school too, not attending all of my classes and getting suspended for bad behavior. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and that nobody wanted me or cared.
For the first year and a half, I continued to struggle and really tested my foster parents, thinking they would eventually have me removed. I was verbally aggressive and defiant, slammed doors, stomped around, complained about everyone and everything, refused to comply with even basic directions, and generally had a very negative attitude. When anyone confronted me about it, I would become extremely defensive or totally shut down. However, I eventually began to see that they were not giving up on me. I felt like they were willing to accept me for who I was and give me a chance and I realized that I had the ability to turn my life around if I wanted to. I also realized that I had some positive qualities that would help me to make the changes that I needed to make. I knew I was smart – I had been on the B honor roll at least once before. I also learned that I was a good communicator and could stand up for myself, I loved to sing and dance, and people considered me to be mature and likeable. I made a lot of progress in the foster home with expressing my emotions in a healthy way and began to trust adults, succeed academically, and participate in typical healthy teen activities. I began making some positive connections through these activities, which included summer camps, church groups, choir, and sports. I was also participating in therapy with my foster mom and learning to work through my feelings in healthier ways.
I’ve now been with my foster family for nearly three years and I am doing well. I’m a sophomore in high school and I have a part-time job working at Culvers. I’m earning nearly all A’s in school and I really enjoy school; I have great teachers and love spending time with my friends. I played soccer during my freshman year and plan to go out for soccer again next spring. I’m in choir too and really enjoy performing. Next spring, I’ll be traveling to Washington D.C. with my school choir to perform at the nation’s Capitol. I’m involved in a youth group through my church and, this past summer, I participated in a 7 day mission trip to Mission South Dakota. I no longer think of my foster parents as such, but more like my real parents. The unconditional support that they’ve given me has allowed me to grow and be successful. As far as my future, I plan to earn my high school diploma and attend college to pursue a career in forensic science or criminal justice. I got a chance to explore my career interests last summer when I attended a forensic science camp at UW-Platteville and thought it was very interesting. I would also like to stay involved with my church, maybe as a youth leader, and be able to help others. Most importantly, I will always stay close to my family, the Spinks, and know that they will always be there for me.