How many times do you hear about a foster kid’s success story? My experience taught me that most people don’t believe children in foster care could be successful because they project their thoughts and feelings about the biological parents onto the kids.
There were days that my own journey felt incredibly overwhelming to me and it’s one of those things that at times scared the piss out of me.
Get Ready for a long read!
My life started off on a rough note when I was placed into foster care at the age of 2, with my younger brother (he’s 2 years younger than me). I spent 14 years in the foster care system, 2 group homes, and 1 foster family, never nearing the phase of adoption.
During the times with my foster family (age 6-13), life was awesome and life was incredibly messed up.
I was molested by my mother’s boyfriend. I was abused by my foster parents (physical, verbal and emotional abuse). There were many days I came up with my things being thrown on the floor, being yelled yet for not talking about my problems and that I would be nothing – a worthless whore and an alcoholic. And eventually, the foster family no longer wanted me in their home, and I was relocated to a new foster home.
But had you met me then, you wouldn’t know it! Life was perfect and problems didn’t exist! I was happy, at least that is what I portrait. And I made up stories. Stories I believed would give me the attention I craved and made me fit into the world.
But no matter what I did, I always felt like I was from another world, like I didn’t fit it in and it would lead me to sex, drugs, and music just to make it through the day, and oh all the cool kids did it.
Being a misfit. A teenage rebel.
When I was 14 years old failing at life, one of my social workers pulled me aside and told me:
Petra, you are not stupid. You can graduate from high school and become anything you want to be.
It was just the words I needed, to help me go from failing at school to graduating at 15 with top grades. I landed the job I wanted (Veterinarian Assistant) and started working and learning the trade. And because all I wanted was to be loved by my mother, I chose to move in with her and it worked of course until it didn’t.
I met my now ex-husband in May of 91, and had our first son in 92′. The challenge, he was an American Soldier and I was a German girl believing in him to rescue me. I immigrated to the US when our son was 8-months old and had married him. And the relationship was toxic for both of us, each dealing with PTSD in our own way, needing healing but not ready to face any of it. A few kids later (3 boys all together), we called it quits.
We separated and I started doing my own thing. Always chasing the next thing, the next dream, the next love, trying to move out of the frustration that I called my life.
I fully believed life didn’t have to be difficult but dammit I just didn’t know how to get there. I did know I wanted to help people but I had no idea what that looked like!
I drank way too much alcohol and ended up with a DUI and I realized that if I continued this path, I would make my foster parents’ prophecy come true.
Screw that. I was not about to give them that!
My life was so much about proving everyone else wrong and showing them that I can. I would become a foster kid’s success story!
And then my world turned upside down. Just as I was finishing my degree in Accounting, my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that was potentially fatal.
It was that pivotal moment of hitting emotional rock bottom, knowing life is too short to not do the things I wanted to do. And at that moment, while dealing with the unknown of the Urea Cycle Disorder, I dove right back into college to earn my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Little did I know that I would be asked to either quit or keep going. My son required a liver transplant if he would have any chance at life at all. And I did the only thing I knew how to do and survive: Keep going.
To dream is to believe in hope.
While my son was fighting for his life, I studied, I made art and shared his journey. In the process, my core was shaken up and had me asking myself, who the heck I am, what do I stand for and what in this world did I want to create. I was out of complete alignment with everything I personally stood for and it was time to find my voice.
And I started going after the things I wanted and every day I came closer to being myself in the process.
- I wrote a book and published it.
- I had an artisan store supporting the local arts (it’s now closed).
- I worked as a therapist and felt amazing about the work I did.
- I wrote another book.
After 3 years working in counseling, I felt the call the step out away from the job and slowly started to build my coaching business. Somewhere in this journey, I decided I don’t need to prove anything to anyone! I am not a foster kid reject but success! And here I am free in being myself who loves coffee and music almost as much as I love myself.
I want to yell into the world:
Take that dream and make it happen. The time is now! Don’t wait.
This is what gets me fired up, helping you – supporting you and guiding you into your dreams.
And if you read this far, you know it comes from the internal work first before it can transcend into the outer world.
I went from feeling and being a reject to a foster kid’s success story because I chose to rewrite it and call myself out on all the bullshit getting in the way.
Whatever your story, you too can rewrite it and call yourself out, so that you may follow your dreams and focus on your goals.