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Praise from Former CAS Wards
December 21, 2011 permalink
Here are two favorable stories about CAS, included here since they have real names of the former wards.
In their own words: Two sides to the story
Kids in foster care can face multiple obstacles
WOODSTOCK — Melissa Smibert was never given the chance to know her birth mother.
"She was there to bring me into the work, then good bye, see ya," the 18-year-old explains.
In the beginning, her father took over the responsibility of caring for her. She remembers her early years as happy ones, with birthday and Christmas celebrations, and toys lined up in her bedroom.
After she turned five, things changed, and physical and emotional abuse entered her world.
"My father told me if I told anybody he would make me walk on dried rice on my knees," she said. "Every once in a while, he'd make me do it. It really hurt.
Smibert is still haunted by the fact the abuse was focused on just her. Her two older sisters, she believes, were untouched.
"I ask myself, 'why did this happen to me?'" she said. "I hated when my dad was mad at me. I thought he didn't love me."
After one brutal episode, she couldn't keep her secret anymore and talked to her school secretary.
"I said my poppa hit me. She went to the principal," she said. "That day I left my father."
When she was older, Smibert pressed charges against her father, who was eventually sentenced to six month in jail.
Life has been a rough ride for Smibert, who struggled through several diagnoses. Besides being diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and attachment disorders, and ADHD, she was also born with fetal alcohol syndrome and Tourette Syndrome, a disorder characterized by involuntary physical and vocal tics.
And while she may appear to remember many of details of her early life, Smibert has chosen to forget the early days after she taken in care by the Oxford Children's Aid Society.
"There was a year in my life I can't remember," she said. "I moved 20 times in two months."
Later placed in a group home, she said she was teased mercilessly for her Tourette Syndrome, setting off her aggressive behaviours.
Placed in her first real foster home at 11, she rebelled against strict rules, resulting in emotional confusion and sometimes suicide attempts. At 14, she moved to another group home and endured more humiliation.
"One girl made fun of my Tourette's so bad that I beat her up," she said. "You can't comment on my Tourette's, man, I get so offended."
In another home, one teen used to call her "polka-dot face" due to her acne.
"The staff were nice, but when they don't do anything about (the bullying), it's hard and you think they don't care," she said.
Despite average marks in high school, she struggled with assignments.
"I'm a perfectionist, that's why I'm so slow at writing and to get my work done," she said. "I handed in a lot of things late and lost marks."
At 16, she moved out on her own in a semi-independent program in Cambridge.
"Living on my own is kinda hard," she said.
She spends her days on Facebook and MSN, and caring for her pet hamster.
She loves animals and reggae, and hates the bus.
Her dream is to one day buy a blue Mazda or pink Mini.
She doesn't have a boyfriend.
"Emotionally I can't handle it. The last five relationships I've had, I've broken up with them after two months," she said. "I don't like hugging guys or touching guys."
If she can't hook up with an old friend she met in a Waterloo group home, she is uncertain where she will spend the holidays.
"It's my first Christmas on my own," she said. "I'm going to be all by myself."
She thinks one day she might like to become a social worker but is unsure if it will ever happen. The fetal alcohol syndrome affects her memory.
"I'll remember that I came to see you, but I won't remember what we talked about," she said.
Smibert does sometimes wonder if her life could have taken a different course.
"If I wasn't moved around so much, things could have been different," she said. "One of the girls who stayed in the foster home the longest – she was there about six years – she went to university. That's where I wanted to go."
Eighteen-year-old Dominic Bates said he was entered into foster care at age six for financial reasons.
After a couple of brief stays in different foster homes, Bates found himself in Ingersoll in a foster home that he has lived in ever since.
"(Being a foster child) has been pretty much my whole life," he said. "It's been built right into it. There's really not much adapting. My foster parents treat their foster kids like they were their own.
Bates said he feels like he was raised "like any normal kid."
"Foster kids tend to have a bad rap. Not all of us are that kind of kid," he said.
Bates, who plays in the Western Ontario Soccer League, applied and was accepted into the general arts program at Fanshawe College last spring.
He is currently studying to be a practical nurse.
"My social workers helped me a lot," he said. "Stephen (Flindall) helped me prepare for college and understand the payments and anything I needed to know."
Earlier this year, Bates was asked to speak about his experience of applying and his transition to college to a group of foster parents.
If there is a down side to being a foster child, Bates said it is the time spent away from his sisters. After they were initially separated, his two sisters also lived with his foster family.
"That was nice. That lasted a while," he said. "When they left, that was a bummer."
Today, Bates uses a car purchased for him by his foster father to travel to London to attend school. He says he considers himself very lucky to have a stable, long-term relationship with his foster parents.
"A lot of foster kids move from house to house to house. I only had to move a couple of times," he said. firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Woodstock Sentinel Review