Written by Cheyanne Ratnam, @CheyRatnam, 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.
Now that August is here, it’s becoming more of a reality that I’m going to turn a year older in September (September 27th). Damn. I thought that it would make me feel anxious, however, looking back at my life, it makes me proud of all that I have overcome. The accomplishments that I have accumulated for my age and the fact that I feel like fine wine (getting better with age). Lol.
This all makes me chuckle at the petty things I worried about over the years (and perceived substantial anxieties like societal pressures re: expectations for women, aging out of care at different stages ex. 16, 18, 21, etc). 15 going on 16. 17 going on 18. 20 going on 21. 24 going on 25. Etc. More so than others who have not grown-up in care, these age milestones are tied to quite a few anxieties — and it’s remarkable to know that the stressors which exist for young people growing-up in care, re: age indicators, were anxiety inducing at epic proportions, but as many of us end-up finding out, we’ll get through them, overcome them — we will rise.
The struggles I have endured and flawlessly overcome, they have only strengthened me, given me wisdom, and a drive to continue rising.
I may now be a professional/adult, and there has always been more to me than being a former ward of the state (I can still also rock the young person label re: lived experience), however, my family class as being from care has really shaped me. The struggles I have endured and flawlessly overcome, they have only strengthened me, given me wisdom, and a drive to continue rising. I am extremely proud of my care family, the accomplishments they have acquired, and undoubtedly proud of my youth from care whether in group homes, foster homes, ycjs, or even adopted — our family class proves that we stand for gains, resilience, and pure fabulousness. I hope in time, those who may be struggling more than others, will be able to actualize these thoughts for themselves and know that they are or were always more than system kids.
It’s also astounding how my circle has evolved in my life time. My family circle has never been stagnant. Many of us from care deliberate on what is family and who should be defined as such, and I’m quite happy to see that I can now extend my circle to include many member of my biological relatives. It’s so crazy that I am going to turn a year older and that I have contact with my father, as well as three siblings I never knew about.
Life is full of surprises and if we never had this socially constructed concept of time, it would be tough to look back and see/evaluate/calculate our evolution.