"The foster system has taught me that family is not just people who share the same last name or blood type. But it is the people who care for me the most and have my best interests at heart." 

Leanne Caldejon shares #HerStory for #SpeakUp

"One of the challenges that I had to face in foster care was reminding myself constantly that life will always get better from this point onwards. It was hard being my own support system when I felt no one was on my team, emotionally. I felt lost and abandoned by my family. I felt that I was losing my identity and who I was when I was taken from my home/school into a whole new life within a blink of an eye. My second CSW showed me I had so much to offer in this world. She was my biggest support system as she followed my ITSP worker from Children's Institute Inc. My therapist also impacted my life in a great way. If it was not for these three in my life, I feel as though I would have taken so much longer to move forward with my life and to no longer dwell on what has happened to me in the past. Not only did they teach me to let go of the past but also to embrace it since it has molded me to become the person I am today.

When I was emancipating out of foster care the key essential things I needed was my support/my team. They were the ones who helped me mentally, physically, and emotionally with the process. I was scared and I felt alone at times but they managed to shine a light on certain moments when I needed it the most. They reminded me that I am independent but just needed a little push at times.

The foster system has taught me to put myself first in any situation and to not let anyone control my life except for me. It has taught me what I really want to with my life. I have always wanted to be a nurse because my ultimate goal was to help others. Due to foster care, I wanted to help people on a deeper level.

As cliche as it sounds, the one piece of advice I would give to someone in the system would be the slogan for this series that Foster Nation is representing, #"SpeakUp". Throughout the life I had with my biological family, I was never able to speak what is on my mind nor give input on how I felt. After being placed in a foster home and given a new life to live, I learned that I am the advocate of my life and I have the option to speak without being told not to do so. I am not afraid of saying what is on my mind and I stand for what I believe in. I hope that everyone that is in the system uses the most powerful tool that life has given them, their voice. It is the biggest and strongest thing that they can use to defend themselves.”

Foster Nation