Today, I get to introduce you to someone who means a lot to my family. Brayden has been a part of our extended family for a long time through his mentor relationship with my dad. And let me tell you—we love this young man. Brayden’s journey through the foster care system started when he was only eight years old. Recently, we sat down to talk through this experience, how his mentor impacted his life and his plans for the future. I am so thankful for Brayden’s willingness to share his story so that we can better understand what it’s like to walk through foster care. Learning from the experiences of others helps us grow and love one another better.
HERE ARE 3 TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY’S CONVERSATION:
1. Children in foster care have a voice worth hearing.
Brayden’s journey through the foster care system was full of decisions he didn’t make. He moved between houses, communities, and families without having much clarity on what would happen next. On top of that, he was separated from his siblings, and over time, visits became harder to come by. When decisions are made by caseworkers, foster parents, biological families, and judges, it doesn’t leave much room for the child in care to be heard. Knowing how these decisions affect children in care can help us remember to give them a voice and create space for their questions.
“It wasn’t until like a month or so later that I kind of started realizing, ‘okay so I guess I’m kind of living here now.’”
2. Mentors can create space for a child to be heard.
It all started over coffee and drawing tutorials. A simple afternoon flourished into a relationship where Brayden felt free to confide in his mentor. Building trust happens over time, and mentorship is a great way to give a child in foster care room to speak and be heard. Brayden’s story shows that children in foster care need adults who will listen without judgment and help them process what they’ve been through. I’ve seen first-hand how impactful mentorship can be for a child in foster care through my dad’s relationship with Brayden. A cup of coffee and consistent time can make a lasting impact.
“He was the one person at any time that I could be 110% honest with.”
3. Foster care is uncomfortable, and teens need you to walk through it with them.
Before Brayden entered foster care, his family moved around a lot. He was the protector of his siblings and didn’t have reliable adults in his life to help him manage, so he took on the roles an adult would. When he entered care then, he began acting out. Brayden can now look back and see that his behaviors were a direct result of the chaos he felt in his life. Simply put, foster care is uncomfortable. I love the challenge Brayden gave us in this episode to step into the uncomfortable. Older children and teens in the foster care system need us to say yes to them. They remember and are shaped by their life circumstances. We can be the stabilizing force that they need while they piece together the events that have unfolded in their lives.
“How [foster parents] may be uncomfortable…just know that those kids are ten times more uncomfortable and…their lives are in a complete and total spin.”
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