Dear Social Services, Dear Foster Carers, Dear Social Workers, Duty Managers, Reviewing Officers, Dear Youth Workers, Charities, Agencies, Safe Guarding Officers and Pastoral Care Teachers,
I just wanted to let you know that I made it out. I made it out without a stereotype in sight. I made it out without a criminal record, without a baby, without failing school, without turning to drugs or alcohol. I made it out without being bitter, or angry. I made it out of the care system.
To my foster carers who instilled love and care, to those who drove abuse or spite, to those who saw money signs, who enjoyed the badge of “good citizen”, to those who loved me the best they knew how. I made it out of care.
I remember being around 4 or 5 years old and being picked up by my social worker and being whisked off to somewhere strange, somewhere far, but all too nearby. To a new place I was told would be my home. There I found new people, new glares and stares, new energy, new yes’s and no’s. I found fear and pain, both physical and verbal, I found theft and bullying both by me and to me. I found manipulation and gain. I found my skin, I found my Afro hair, I found my teeth and cavities and I even found an aeroplane, I found Malaysia and Thailand.
I didn’t find my mother, I didn’t find my street, my road or my home. I did not find the Jamaican lady sitting on the block waiting passionately to cane row my messy mane. I didn’t find police escorting me from my nursery to the station when my mother had somehow not turned up to collect me.
Who knows of the things I found and did not find, on all the journeys to places “they” said would be my home, on all the introductions to kids who’d already decided they did not like me. To the new schools with fresh shiny uniforms, to primary school teachers who called me bright, when they knew I was just “nuff” and to the after school club leaders who saw all of my sparkle. To Nikki and Gina at PlayPlus who watched my one woman variety shows, with props and paint, with off-pitch singing and bombardment of flexibility, the splits and even unsuccessful handstands. To you I say I made it out, I made it out of the care system.