I held my sister in my arms for the first time when I was seven years old and as I looked down at her perfect little face just a few hours after she was born, it did not cross my mind that one day I would become her legal guardian and best friend.
I was seven years old so I was probably thinking “yay, someone to play dolls with!” So, I patiently waited for her to grow old enough to participate in games with me. Who knew that this fragile newborn baby would one day become the strongest young lady I know today. She was growing up, and way too quickly like most youth in foster care, and I was there to protect her, to comfort her, and to guide her. She was eight years old when we entered the foster care system, and I was sixteen. My instinct was to protect her even more now in a stranger’s home as we slowly attempted to trust them.
I remember my brother, who was also with us in this strange new house, would encourage us everyday to dream about one day having our own home. We would sit in our room and dream and write out a plan to achieve this goal. I was the oldest, so our plan included me obtaining a job and renting a home as soon as I turned eighteen. We were determined as we dreamt of our new home and of course we went according to our plan.
I moved out when I was eighteen and it broke my heart to leave my siblings, but we all new that it was part of our plan. My brother moved out with me a year later and our sister patiently waited. Determined, I began the process of becoming a foster parent and took a CPR and first aid class among many other classes and went through house inspections in a process I felt took forever as I anxiously waited for a social worker to bring my sister home.
I was twenty-one years old when I became a certified foster parent and got to bring my sister home where she belonged, and we could not be happier. Proceeding with legal guardianship or what is known as Kin-gap felt appropriate, so I was granted with legal guardianship in 2020 when my sister turned fifteen years old. We also reconnected with our mother and kept a stable relationship with her, so we decided with our mother back in our lives that adoption was not necessarily a step we needed to take. Happy for the first time in our lives, I danced with my sister on her sixteenth birthday and looked at her still perfect little face and saw the fragile new born baby I once held, the nine-year-old girl that I once left behind, and the sixteen-year-old girl who was finally happy, worry-free as a child should be, and loved unconditionally by her brother and sister who once told her to dream about a better future and loving home.
We look back at everything we have accomplished and are proud of who we have become despite what statistics state about what should have been our outcomes as foster youth. We continue to dream and set goals for ourselves, and I am proud to say that I have recently earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology as of May 2022. My sister is in high school and on track to graduate and my brother has a stable full-time job and is now a father. I am also a full-time employee at iFoster as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator working with an incredible team of individuals who share the same passion that I have for assisting foster youth with resources that will help them reach their full potential. As we reach our own full potential, we continue to work towards new goals and dreaming as we once did when we were children with the same motivation we found when trying to fulfill our first dream of one day having a safe and loving home.
Our brother, who has a child of his own now, still visits my sister and I often and when we’re sitting together asks, “So what new dreams are we planning for today?”
Written by Shellsea Reynoso, Marketing and Digital Communications Coordinator at iFoster