TAYLOR SOGHIGIAN / DON'T BECOME A STATISTIC, BECOME WHO YOU'VE DREAMED OF

"You had a rough start on life but it's no where close to over yet. Make your own legacy, be true to yourself. Make your life better, stay positive and it will work out. It might not be easy, but it will work out. Set your mind to it, and do it."

Taylor Soghigian shares #HerStory:

"One of the most challenging parts of the system for me was the six month placement rule. The county of which I reside in tries to get a child permanently placed in a home in someone's permanent custody within six months. If not, the child is removed and placed in a different home in which they hope they can permanently place them. I don't understand it fully because I was lucky enough to have been chosen by my first foster home. I also think it takes broken families and addicted parents longer then six months to get better and to heal; therefore, I believe that the time frame should be longer. The first time I was placed in foster care, I was only seven years old. My parents were the "Cape Cod Scammers", and were soon arrested and convicted of fraud and drug related crimes. Six months wasn't enough time for them to finish their sentence, let alone get their life back on track. A few months later, custody was awarded to my grandfather and we moved to Minnesota. I haven't seen my mother since.

Another challenging thing was that the county or police can only remove children they believe are in immediate danger. I was 14 when I was removed from an abusive household and placed into foster care; however, only I was removed. My younger sister and two brothers remained in the household because I was the only one with proof of physical abuse. When I was removed, I had a black eye, and a sprained wrist. Years later, I would find out that my sprained wrist was actually ruptured sagittal bands in my hand and would require surgery and casting to fix.

When we moved to Minnesota, we were given a worker to assist my grandfather with food, finding us health insurance etc. At the time, my siblings and I had the same worker for a number of years. She visited frequently; however, I never saw her. She never suspected abuse, and when she showed up at the shelter to talk to me, she didn't know who I was. This is another frustrating part of the system, big case loads let cases like mine slip through the cracks. I didn't know this at the time, but as I pursue a career in social work, I am learning more and more on topics like these. Government funding is essential to making sure social workers are able to meet the needs of a child, or even see the child enough to recognize them and know signs of abuse.

I was placed into permanent custody with my foster parents, so I never emancipated from the system really. One of the most frustrating things was the transition at age 18. I went from only working to have money to spend on shopping trips, to becoming fully self-sufficient. I needed help and guidance in transitioning from youth to adulthood, and really didn't know anyone who knew what I was going through. I needed support above all.

The foster care system taught me resilience. The system and the people around me taught me that life isn't going to be easy, but a positive mindset will go along way. The system has taught me that life is full of choices. With the help of my social worker and therapist I was able to learn how to help myself. I was able to fight my emotional battles to realize my self-worth and create a successful path. As difficult as being in foster care was at first, eventually I was able to feel safe and emotionally heal from all the trauma I had experienced as a child. I was able to make the conscious decision to grow and move forward; for we cannot change others actions or the past. The system has also taught me the importance to advocate for my needs. I wasn't the only foster child in my home as if I needed something I had to voice it. I had to talk to my social worker, foster parents, or ab litem to get what I needed. It's been a useful skill as I've grown.

Some advice- Don't become a statistic; become who you've dreamed of. Don't let the system or the situations define who you are or who you want to become. It's part of your past that won't go away, but it doesn't have to follow you wherever you go. Also, keep in mind how much you've overcome. When I first entered the system, I would've never imagined where I'd be today. I'm living on my own and self-sufficient, I recently graduated with honors from a two year school and am now moving on to pursue a masters in social work. Life gets better, believe me."

Foster Nation