Written by Cheyanne Ratnam, a member of our Young Person’s Advisory Council, former young person in care, CaFdn Ambassador, S.S.W., B.S.W., M.S.W. Candidate
Recently, as I was walking I was stopped by an elderly woman who was being helped by her daughter. She pointed at me, looked at her daughter, and said “she will help me get home.” Her daughter figured I was a stranger, which I was, and asked me if I was okay with that; I said O.K. They exchanged their heartfelt goodbyes and see-you-soons. En route walking her home, she explained to me that her daughter had come from far away to visit her and knew she was tired and had a long drive home, so she didn’t want her to hold her up any longer. The fine lines on her face told me a story of great triumph, perserverance, and years filled with a lot of laughter. She told me about her past and proudly said her daughter was a teacher, as was her granddaughter; she was extremely proud of them. I could almost see her eyes brighten up, the greens and browns of her eyes glowed. After a bit we arrived at her home. I walked her into her home and she said: “Thank you so much. God bless you”. I was extremely touched by how proud she was of her daughter and grand-daughter. I could tell she felt very accomplished in regards to how they turned out. I’m not sure why she stopped me and not someone else, but I’m grateful for this engagement with this stranger.
I know I will never be enough for my biological mother no matter what I do or what else I accomplish, but I am going to make sure my kids know that I am proud of them and know that I beam-up every time I think or talk about them.
I hope my relationship with my kids is one where my kids visit me because they want to visit me (when I become an ‘elderly’ person), and not a relationship where visiting is a chore and done purely out of the context and percieved obligation of being related. I’ve thought about it often in regards to what I’d want my kids and their offspring to know, and one thing I’d want them to know are the triumphs over hardships endured and the very fact that I grew-up in the child welfare system. Listening to this woman’s story made me realize how important it is for me to share my story, without gaps, with my own offspring. It is a personal choice for each of us from care; some may keep that secure in their hearts and others may share, but as for me I want to let my offspring know that people from care are superstars. Each in their unique way; that they are soldiers. Many children grow-up not knowing what crown wards are or anything about the child welfare system. I hope my kids can be a part of a community of kids who can say to other children who may negatively perceive people from or in care, that people from care are rock stars and soldiers — because we are.