"Push through, be smart, love yourself although others may not, and most importantly, be your own champion. It is easy to fall into a narrative of thinking that you are only what those around you tell or treat you to be, but your fate is in your hands."

Charles Kim shares #HisStory:

"There is not one, but an archive of defining and challenging experiences I had growing up in the foster neglect system, but the theme that threads them all together was that I never once felt at home in the over 20 homes I had lived in from six until my emancipation at 18. There are a few that stand out from the sea of negative experiences that has been imprinted into my heart nonetheless. I recall in my memory a time where my eight year old existence felt like a prisoner, restricted to the boundaries of a large scale group home as I’d traveled with a group of six or seven similar aged foster children, adhering to a routine schedule like one does in prison while being chaperoned by several resident staff until lights out; being told by Ms. Macintosh, my foster mother at 15 that she understands why my mother disposed of me due to my incessant inquisitions; given a 7 day notice for the umpteenth time and then having my stuff moved outside before my social worker would even find me another home; having the refrigerator chained and locked up because apparently me and my four foster brothers ate too much. I guess the telling story from my experiences in foster neglect is that you grow up feeling like a shadow, investigating and probing to know how to be, act, and be a reflection of the new and as a consequence, never knowing what it means to be whole.

I know in fact I needed myself the most when I was emancipating from the system, which I got in time. Other than that, I needed people who gave a damn even when not knowing how to. This particular person isn’t just a mentor that tells your right from wrong or gives you technical help from their convenience, but a person willing to fight you because they cared so much.

Being in foster neglect has taught me to take initiative, not be a bystander, and be more than the status quo. You learn quickly growing up in foster neglect that people are basic whether it's the half-baked social worker who follows the script or from the foster parents that see you as a paycheck. I have learned what not to be by the examples of those from the foster neglect system that failed miserably at taking initiative and understanding the significance of the difference they could have made had they only tried to look beyond. I approach life with the philosophy of competence, acting to mitigate problems, taking notice instead of playing pretend not to know, and trying my hardest to find a resolution for the unsolvable thanks to the lessons learned from the foster neglect system.

Some advice- Be your own hero by working hard, surrounding yourself with enriching opportunities, and just pushing forward despite the absence of the light at the end of the tunnel. I promise you that after foster care you will have the power to make the choices and decisions that are right for you. It’s going to take a lot of work, healing, and perseverance, but just push through because you amount to more than what your experiences show you to be."

Foster Nation