"You are worthy of love. You are worthy of success. You are worthy of great things."
By: Whitney Gilliard
“Hi my name is Whitney, I'm in foster care because… it’s very nice to meet you.” These words are engrained in my brain because after entering foster care at 14, I had to recite these words to a new social worker every year. I dreaded these introductions. Without any emotion, I would tell them of the abuse I endured for 9 years, and the reason why I was sitting in front of them as if it were my fault.
This went on for a while: the recycling of people, the recycling of placements, and the reciting of my story.
My life consisted of moving around with a trash bag full of my belongings.
I had 18 placements before I was placed with the foster parents who would come to be my support system. The desire to succeed and chase after my passion would not have been possible without my foster parents.
Trying to make the best of the world is anything but easy especially if you are coming from a life of foster care, social workers, court visits, residential placements, inconsistent medication, and even juvenile detention.
When I was in school, I would tell everyone about my dreams and ambition. The minute they realized my background, their immediate response would be that I was incapable of fulfilling my goals in life. It was as if being a foster kid was a handicap to success. The rebel in me wanted to refute that belief.
Society has labeled foster kids as troublesome, but when given parents and a loving environment, we are anything but trouble. I want every child in foster care to know that you have made it so far day after day. Never forget the mornings after a dark night of crying and fear; those mornings are proof that you will be fine as long as you persevere. Pay attention to the questions your social workers ask you and understand that it is brave to advocate for yourself.
Use what you have gone through to let this world know that pain does exist, but hope is powerful. It is your destiny to show the world that you have made it, and you must stay resilient. It’s common for people to say, “It doesn't matter where you came from.” I disagree. Remember where you came from, get your education, and go back to make it better.
It may not seem possible, but give God a chance. The second you let God in you will start giving your foster parents a chance, and ultimately give yourself a chance.
My husband was the first man that loved me with all my baggage and my scars. At 20, God gave me the chance to break the vicious cycle of abuse and neglect with my son.