My Family This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


     Because of my family's foster care work withabused, abandoned and confused kids, I have learned that sex is not always abeautiful story about the birds and the bees. Sometimes the story ends withmental and physical abuse, and lack of self-confidence, family support andfriendships, all of which can destroy a child.

One of my foster-sisters,Sarah, was in so many ways the typical outcast kid. She lacked self-confidence somuch that her emotions seeped through to her physical appearance. At school noone understood her and so, of course, she was made fun of constantly. Once, kidseven played an evil trick, making her believe one of the most popular guys had acrush on her.

"Nichole, did you hear? Troy likes me! I thought hewas going out with so-and-so, but Jamie told me he has his eye on me!" Shewas crushed, of course, when she found out he didn't.

I have to admitthat at first I didn't understand her either, and although I was too afraid toact upon my thoughts, I was thinking the same things as the other kids. Why doesshe talk that way? Why does she walk like that? Why is she so shy?

Onenight my mother had me go with Sarah to her mother's house. As I was drivingthrough town, I began to have a better understanding. Most of Sarah's friends,and Sarah herself, had been sexually or verbally abused. They hated their livesand found temporary relief in drugs and sex. It was a different world, and seeingthe poverty and its effects shocked me. That night I gained so much appreciationfor my family, my education and my ability to have dreams and goals I know I canreach.

My foster-sister Jessica is full of spirit, hope, attitude, love,hate and, deep down, compassion for others. Oh, the things I have learned fromher. She was a girl who was always put on the back burner. She had so many peoplemess with her mind and experienced so many misfortunes but, somehow through itall, she never gave up. No matter how much she was let down, she still held on tothe thought that her potential would be realized. The greatest lesson I learnedfrom her was always to hold onto that glimmer ofhope.

   Jessica and Sarah are only two of the nine"sisters" and "brothers" who have walked into my life. Theyhave been there to teach me about lives so different from my own. Through thesecond-hand experiences I've shared with this "family," I have learnedto appreciate life, value myself and cherish the importance of an education. Ihave learned about poverty, drugs, illiteracy, sex, homelessness and violence,but in a safe way. I consider myself privileged to have experienced such lessonsand am grateful to have met such inspiring people.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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