What supports young people to grow in resilience, success, good health and happiness? Love, connection and belonging. For foster youth this is even more profoundly true, even though fighting for food, clothing and shelter takes up so much energy.
Join Foster Youth Museum and our latest exhibition Chosen: Foster Youth and Their Chosen Families and witness youth building their families through choosing, and through love. The exhibition features compelling photo portraiture from Ray Bussolari and the stories from the mouths (and hearts) of youth. The show opens First Friday (April 3, 2020) and runs for three weeks. More information coming soon about our first ever Chosen Family Commitment Ceremony to be held on April 9, 2020.
When I was asked to pose for a photograph about foster youth luggage, the clear plastic bags that foster youth belongings are put into when they enter and leave a placement, I was eager and happy to take part.
The photo does not bring up bad foster memories for me. Unlike other foster youth, I had places with biological family where I could leave my most precious items. I did have my belongings put into plastic bags, but I learned to be detached from things while in care, because theft was so common.
I kept nothing of value with me, so when I saw my clothes packed into the clear bags, it had no power over me. The strength I had as a foster kid was to accept the harsh consequences, like thievery among youth, and plan for it. What the picture means to me now, is a reminder of how many times I have moved after age 18 and after foster care. Instability is a common reason that youth enter care, and instability is a very common experience for youth after they exit care.
When you see my photo in Lost Childhoods at Grace Cathedral, I want you to think about the instability foster youth experience, and I want you to know that we carry on and that we are strong. And there are ways you can support foster youth in your community.
I hope to see you at Grace Cathedral, October 15 – November 1, 2015. Come any day, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.