An Open Letter of Resilience: Navigating the Foster Care Journey

In this heartfelt letter, Adreonna Bates bares her soul, unveiling a deeply personal narrative etched with the indelible marks of a life lived within the foster care system. She weaves a poignant tapestry of resilience, vulnerability, and the enduring quest for identity. As her story unfolds, Adreonna invites readers into the intimate corridors of her past, where trials and triumphs intersect, creating a mosaic that not only chronicles her unique journey but also extends a compassionate hand to those who may find solace in shared experiences. This open letter becomes a conduit for empathy, understanding, and the universal human spirit’s capacity to rise above adversity.

I am Adreonna Bates, originally born as Adreonna Allen. This narrative unfolds the circumstances leading me into the foster care system. From the outset, my life was shaped by my mother’s struggle with drug addiction, leaving my father to care for me in the face of her prolonged absences. The cycle persisted when my brother was born, and my father, burdened with work, struggled to find proper care for us. Eventually, a concerned neighbor reported the situation, prompting Child Protective Services to intervene and place us in foster care.

Throughout our time in the foster care system, my father tirelessly advocated for the preservation of our sibling bond. Commencing our journey through various foster homes at ages 2 and 1, we, like many in the system, grappled with the haunting question of: Why did I have to be put into the system? At that young age, I lacked an answer, and it created void that persisted for 33 years.

Reflecting on kinship care, I now realize that having family members take us in might not have guaranteed an easier life. My mother had seven children, and while two of my older siblings found refuge with family, their paths diverged – my older sister thriving while my older brother battled alcoholism.

The stigma of being treated differently as a foster child was a reality for many, but my experience shifted when George and Deborah Williams welcomed me and my younger brother into their home at ages 6 and 5. This foster family provided the love, stability, and guidance we desperately needed. For the first time, I felt wanted, with parents and siblings, attending school, celebrating holidays, and experiencing genuine care.

Image provided by Adreonna

However, challenges arose as my brother struggled with behavioral issues, resulting in his return to the foster care system. The guilt and isolation I felt were overwhelming, compounded by the Williams’ personal challenges. Deborah, with regret of not being able to care for me anymore, offered her family’s love and a choice of which sister could care for me. I chose Cynthia and Eugene Bates, who adopted me two years later, providing the enduring family support I craved.

Recognizing the mental toll of my journey, I sought therapy, a crucial step in my healing. Becoming a mother fueled my determination to break the cycle for my children. My support system now includes my aunt, Deborah Williams, and my father, Eugene Bates. My mother, Cynthia Bates, passed away a few years ago.

Cynthia Bates and Adreonna, Image provided by Adreonna

For those navigating the foster care system, my advice is twofold: remember it is not your fault, and seek therapy. Only in adulthood did I comprehend the importance of talking to someone and building trust, essential for personal growth and meaningful relationships.

To those on similar journeys, you are not alone. I stand with you, ready to listen, share, and empathize with your struggles. The pain won’t last forever, and you are loved. Through God, I believe my experiences were intended to be shared, offering solace and understanding to those who, like me, grew up facing adversity. I love you, and I believe my journey has a purpose.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of A Second Chance, Inc.

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