Ten years ago, my parents adopted my youngest brother, Kyle, through foster care. At 17 years old, he had essentially been raised in the foster care system both in California and Utah. Kyle’s greatest desire was for his mom to finally kick the addiction that had plagued her life during most of his, so that they could be a family again. When it became painfully evident that this would not happen, he allowed his next greatest desire to be known, which was to end the “musical foster home” game and belong to one forever family.

At the time, I worked for DCFS specifically with our foster families and finding homes for children in foster care. I wanted to know his experience and how we could do better. Kyle did not hold back. I learned many things that day; about Kyle, about me, and about the system.

Like a majority of people, I will never fully understand the experience of a child in foster care, as I’ve never lived it. But here is what I do know. Children in foster care are just that: first and foremost children who—through no fault of their own—have been removed from the only life and family they know (however unstable or unsafe) and placed (in most cases) with complete strangers.

The sledge-hammering storm of emotions and thoughts that accompany this traumatic lifestyle is, at best, overwhelming and unimaginable. Almost miraculously, the storm can be calmed through the dedication and devotion of caseworkers, therapists, and most importantly and significantly, the foster family. With their guidance and love, these children can begin to make sense of certain things and feel valued.

Now I work for Utah Foster Care (UFC), helping support these families with resources and support groups. UFC is offering the public the rare opportunity to hear directly from kids and families who are going through the real-life foster care experience. We invite you to join us at one of our many free forums around the state to gain insight into what our children in Utah need and how you can help! Click on one of the links below to find the event closest to you: