ASCI Presents: A Lived Experience Story ft. Gabrielle King
Each month A Second Chance, Inc. tries to share the voices of our kinship families through Q&A style discussions. We are an agency who strives to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment to children in the care of relatives or close family friends—formally called kinship care. Our goal is to truly understand our kinship families by listening to the irreplaceable insights that the lived experience of caregivers, birth parents, and children can offer to make the narrative authentic, and programming more meaningful. This month we had the pleasure of speaking with a former child in care, Gabrielle King.
Can you speak about your experience in foster care and kinship care and how they may have differed?
I have been through so many systems, I honestly don’t remember. I have been in care from 11 years old until 18. There was definitely a difference [between traditional foster care and kinship care]. I was more comfortable with my sister, we bonded differently. In a foster home it was a lot harder. When I stayed in a foster home, we weren’t allowed to shower etc. We were treated very differently. It was a very controlled environment.
Have you kept in contact with your foster parents, kinship caregiver, or case relative workers?
My sister and my brother both had guardianship. I moved to Florida for sometime and now I am back in Pittsburgh with my brother. Recently, I have tried reconnecting with my caseworker from ASCI. She was one of my favorites during my time in kinship care.
What do you consider to be some of your greatest accomplishments thus far? Also, what has been your motivation?
Putting myself through school [is one of my greatest accomplishments]. [Another accomplishment I commend myself on is quitting the habit of] smoking cigarettes. I feel very healthy. [My motivation has been] wanting to be successful.
What are you working towards next?
[I am working on] getting my state boards to [becoming an] esthetician. [I am] trying to move back to Florida or somewhere else [to have new beginning]. [Living in Pittsburgh has been tough because] all of my trauma happened in this city, and it is very triggering.
Given where you are today, if you could give advice to your 11-year-old self, what would you say?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life goes on. Think about the bigger picture. There is more to life. Treat people as experiences and appreciate them while they are there.