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1:51 am - 09.21.2009
Left To Myself
Thurs 9/17/09 (10:30 a.m.)

Left To Myself

The cover-story of this week's LA Weekly ("Left To Themselves") is about foster care.

This quote from Trish Ploehn, the Director of LA’s Department of Children and Family Services, struck me as "the heart of the matter":

No child should grow up in the foster care system. Those that do have very negative outcomes. The 'why' is that children need to belong. They need positive adults in their lives who are committed, and say, "I don't care what you do, I will stand by you".

The story tracks John Kyzers unhappy and unsuccessful progress through the foster care system in LA - From being taken from drug-addict parents as an infant, to moving to Montana after being "emancipated" from foster care at 18.

What struck me, reading the article, was how depressingly familiar Kyzer’s story is; I'm no expert on foster care, and certainly haven't read everything there is to read on the subject, but I’ve read enough to have read this story over and over again, where the names and dates and locations change, but the details are pretty much the same.

(The story could have been being told any time in the past half-century, at least.)

In many ways, John K's story is much like my own - the exit from a biological home, the multiple placements, the abuse, the uncaring bureaucracy, etc -

Sun 9/20/09 (11:57 p.m.)

Now where was I...?

John K’s story is much like my own...with a couple added wrinkles - He spent some time in a group home, fathered a child as a teenager (A child he ended up abandoning when he moved to Montana), and had some trouble with the law, trouble that made a difficult situation (Being a foster child) that much more difficult.

And like me, John K. had “one special person”, a woman who tried her best to make a difference in his life.

But while I had Lydia DeHaven during my formative years, sadly, John K’s “one special person”, Dylan Kendall, came into his life when he was already an emotionally disturbed, angry teenager, and she ultimately couldn’t reach him (As I said to Javier at our last session, “Tragically, Lydia DeHaven left my life too soon, and Dylan Kendall came into John K’s life too late...”).

The end of the article didn’t leave me feeling much hope for John K.:

Addendum: As of press time, John Kyzer had moved on again, this time to the farming town of Ritzville, Washington, where he has been working at McDonalds. His new girlfriend there is pregnant>

It was a sad story, and like I said, not the first sad story I’ve read concerning foster care.

Not by a long shot.

And of course, it made me think about my own “sad story”.

For many years, I harbored the hope that I was going to somehow, some day, be “cured” of having been a foster child. And I know I was actively, deeply angry at myself, for most of my life, for not being able to “get over it”.

Now, at 48, I realize I’m not going to be “cured”, and I am never going to “get over it”.

That’s not the way it works.

In this version of the story, Pinocchio does not become “a real human boy”. Cause if that were going to happen, I’m pretty sure it would have happened by now.

So my thinking has shifted - Instead of wanting what I can never have (A different past, or, barring that, the ability to “get past” the past I actually had), I spend a lot of time pondering what I can make of the circumstances I have been given, and the person I have become.

And it’s gotten very late, and I find myself wanting to wrap this up and go to bed.

But this is really not the kind of thing you can wrap up in a neat little bow in one journal entry. Saying to yourself, “I’m not normal, I’m never going to be normal, and I’m always going to be effected by my traumatic past...but can I still figure out how to live a good life? Can I find a way to create something worthwhile, something I can be happy with?”

That's not the stuff of a journal entry - that's the stuff of a lifetime.

So I guess we’ll have to take a "wait and see" attitude on this one...


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