History of Foster Care in NJ From A Former Foster Child

A Former Foster Child Recalls Her Experiences In The Home of Her Foster Parents, FAFS Founders Sue and Bernie Dondiego

As a result of being in foster care, I learned to be loved. I learned to be treated with respect and dignity. I also learned mostly what it was like to be part of a non-dysfunctional family. I learned what it was like to be part of a family. I was allowed to be “normal” and to have two wonderful parents who cared. As a former foster child, I still remember my time with my foster parents fondly.

Education was always a priority and I did very well during my time in foster care. My foster parents always pressed upon us that education was important and I carried that with me throughout my life. Even though I didn’t go directly to college after high school I knew I had to get a degree sometime and I did eventually go back and earned an associates degree in Accounting.

Not every foster home is a good home or a good match for the child. It takes a great deal of wisdom to place the right child with the right foster parents. Sometimes you don’t have a choice because you’re a child in the system and the adults have the decision making power over your life. However, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade is what my foster parents taught me and I’ve carried that throughout my life.

My foster parents were awesome parents. Not a day ever went by while I was there were they not encouraging me to be the best that I could be and to overcome my disability. They thought it was great when I did things like normal children did like going to a friend’s house, walking down the street or play baseball with the other kids. Some of most memorable memories are walking Chinatown with my foster father, going to the opera with my foster parents, even being disciplined by sitting on the steps are memorable moments. These three memories are just a few out of countless memories that I hold dear to my heart during my time at my foster home. I reflect upon these moments often.

I remember that the first few weeks of being in foster care were hard. However, after the initial adjustment, I fit right in. In my mind I was a Dondiego! If I couldn’t have my birth mother, I wanted to be a Dondiego! Even after I left I often wondered why I wasn’t able to stay. However, the few years that I was with them gave me the strength to endure the next five years; which weren’t very good (my experience in my adoptive home after foster care was not pleasant at all).
My foster parents gave me a sense of courage and the ability to laugh and be happy. Most importantly, while living with the Dondiegos, I felt safe and loved.

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