My name is Mari, I am young evangelist and youth minister combo. I am a former foster kid who beat the odds and statistics in several ways. I have traveled the country on multiple occasions sharing my story and testimony on foster care being such a pivotal time in my life.
I was in Nebraska this past summer and there were a number of people who urged me to get connected with For The Children and its Royal Family KIDS programs. The work and mission of For The Children is near and dear to my heart and I am excited to share my life’s stories with its network of donors, volunteers, directors and supporters.
Here is just one of my stories:
I remember walking out of the doors of my home as I was escorted to the backseat of my social worker’s car. My little brother and I, with tears in our eyes, shared the backseat as we both realized that the next season we were going to endure was going to be more different than what we had experienced in the past. We lost everything. Our family, our friends, and all that we called home was stripped away from us in a moment, leaving us emotionally scarred and traumatized.
Within the first week of being placed in foster care, I quickly found that becoming accustomed to all that was new (family, rules, structure)wasn’t going to be easy by any means. And it isn't for most foster kids. We get stuck in the realm and thoughts of what we don't know, leaving us in a pool of fear.
It was a Sunday evening when I told my foster dad that I hadn’t yet used the toilet in the bathroom since I had been placed in his home. I viewed it as any other public restroom, not being safe for the visitor. Then, he grabbed some baby wipes, gave them to me, and had me clean the toilet myself to assure myself that it had been cleaned.
The following Monday morning, he sat me down on the couch and asked me if there was anything that he could do for me that would help my time there in his home be more welcoming. I looked over at him and shared that my older brother had never let me play his guitar. With purpose, he stood and told me to follow him. He walked into his closet and after rummaging after rummaging for some time, he stepped out and handed me his beautiful electric guitar. He told me that if I were to learn how to play within a month, he’d buy me my very own.
The rest was history. After receiving my own guitar, I had something I could call mine. I would play it daily after coming home from school. It was an ‘out’ that led me away from all of the worries I had in life.I found something that allowed me to reconnect with the kid I had once been. I no longer had to problem-solve, I no longer felt the weight of responsibility of an adult on my 14-year-old shoulders. Foster care allowed me to be a kid again. Getting lost in those moments with family and music gave me emotional stability and allowed me to build healthy relationships with new people, with no worries in mind.
My foster dad saw the signs of emotional damage.He saw the proof of heavy shoulders on me and he took action. He had a mission to love me for me when I entered his home. He didn’t have the intent to change my whole life with a big vision. Surely, he had great intentions, but no one could have ever guessed what giving a damaged teenager a guitar would have done. He simply planted a seed that would sprout and flourish for the rest of my lifetime.