For more than 20 years, I said nothing. I hid my status as a foster care survivor from almost everyone I knew. The label “foster kid” had brought only negative judgment throughout my childhood, and I couldn’t think of any good reason to share this secret in my newly created life.
To protect the truth about my past, I cut ties with anyone who had known I was in foster care. And when I embarked on my college life and then my professional career, it was a topic I tried to avoid at all costs. I became quite good at covering up the truth. I even resorted to telling little white lies in order to avoid the chance that anyone would discover I had been raised in foster care, aged out at 18 and was left to my own devices by an overwhelmed system.
But one day in 2011, my life came to a screeching halt. After spending more than 20 years working in law offices, focusing on criminal defense and divorce matters, I had become burned out by watching essentially the same kids and the same parents circulate through the system. They had different names and faces, of course, but the stories were all very similar to my own beginnings: families that were at or below the poverty line, unemployed, single-parent homes, addiction issues, mental health issues. The similarities went on and on.