Vol. 8, No. 2 May 2004
are you proud of?
In our daily lives many
of us devote a great deal of attention to problems, to whats wrong.
Its not surprising: our schools and businesses spend a great deal
of time teaching people to identify problems, and they shower rewards
on those who do it well.
But if we pay too much attention
to the negative and the broken, it is easy for us to start to think
thats all there is. If we fixate on a childs negative behaviors,
or a social workers or foster parents mistakes, we run the
risk of overlooking the good that person does. Or the good that person
Thats something we
cant afford to do. We need to see the strengths in ourselves,
in others, and in our world. Why? Because our strengths and past successes
hold the key to solving the challenges that lie ahead of us.
With these thoughts in mind,
the writing contest in the last issue of Fostering Perspectives
posed the following question to current and former foster youth: Whats
something about yourself that you are proud of, and why?
We hoped that by asking
this we could help the kids who wrote inand the adults who ultimately
read their responsesshine a little light on what is right in their
We were not disappointed.
In the many responses we receivedwe regret we couldnt publish
them allyoung people told us in a clear way that they had lots
of reasons to celebrate.
Some were proud of things
that make kids everywhere proud: the ability to play a sport, do a flip,
draw a picture, get good grades. Others were proud of victories in their
struggles with substance abuse and anger. Still others were proud of
overcoming experiencesabuse, neglect, multiple placementsthat
once made them doubt their worth as people.
They expressed their pride
in different voices. Some voices were tentativealmost whispersas
if they were not sure theyd be believed. Others rang with confidence
and conviction, like trumpets.
Viewed together, these essays
create a portrait of foster children as people who recognize something
of value in themselves. Now that is something of which we should be
Yet it is also our task
at hand. As parents, social workers, and as a society, we must continue
to help children shine a light on their successes and to nurture their
pride in who they are today and who they will be tomorrow. John
Elizabeth, age 12, First Prize
Im proud of all
my unique looks. I have gorgeous brown hair that shines in the
sun. My eyes twinkle when I look around.
Im proud of my talents because not many people can do
some of them. My thumbs are double-jointedI can stick
them behind my fists. My friends think it is so cool that I
can hang upside down on monkey bars.
I like the fact that I make good grades in school. My teachers
like me a whole lot. They keep my scores up by making sure I
understand everything they teach us in class.
Im happy that I have a loving family who cares for me
by giving me shelter, clothes on my back, food, and water.
My birthday is the first day of spring, March 20. I think that
is special but some other holidays are much better than spring.
There is something about myself that I am really proud ofit
is that I try to be myself. I do not go looking through magazines
to see what they look like to improve myself. I try to stay
one of a kind, not some duplicate of some girl I saw in a magazine
that used a certain kind of makeup and knows she has two boyfriends
and a million others who like her. I would just rather stick
with the one that I already have.
The one thing I have that Im proud of is my friends, because
if I feel that Im useless they would cheer me up because
that is what friends are for. If you are mean to your friends
you will not have anyone to cheer you up so you would live your
life in misery and sorrow. I have a lot of friends and plan
to keep it that way.
These are some things about myself Im proud of.
received $100 for her first place essay
age 12, Second Prize
name is Sofia and I am 12 years old. I have been in foster care
since I was eight. My foster mom and dad have adopted me and
I am so glad they did. With their guidance I feel like my life
is back on track.
one thing I am proud of is making good grades. When I was with
my birth mom I missed 48 days of school because she was always
sleeping from the pills and alcohol and she could not get me
off to school. I am proud of achieving the accomplishments that
I have. Like winning the Noon Optimist Character Award, which
the teachers at Bethel Elementary voted for me, and winning
the DARE Essay award, and being part of the safety patrol last
year at my school.
like I have proven myself with the right guidance in my life
now, that I can accomplish anything, and become anything I want
later in life. I am glad I have a new family that cares enough
about me to get me in the right direction for what life has
are still caring people out there in this world who love children
and I can thank DSS and my new family for that.
received $50 for having her essay published
age 13, Third Prize
One thing I am proud
of is my artwork. I like to draw all the time. I am in an art
class at school where I learn about artists and other styles
of art. I also have earned the art merit badge for Boy Scouts.
At school we were
seeing who could draw the best eagle to go in our yearbook for
the school mascot. I drew a good one but I didnt get it
published in the school yearbook. When I took it home, my foster
mother Darlene liked it so much that she put it in a picture
I also like to paint.
I just painted a lighthouse that I saw on an eighth grade field
trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I painted the lighthouse
because I was working on the art merit badge and I needed to
paint a picture in acrylic. To accomplish the art merit badge
I needed to do a pencil sketch so I used the eagle that I drew
at school. I did an ink sketch of our house for the merit badge.
I also had to do an acrylic. I did a picture of Jesus in a manger,
which turned out to look pretty good.
I am really proud
of how my artwork can look. I also got the art merit badge.
One day my art may become known around the world.
$25 for having his essay published and $15 for having his drawing,
Leaping Tiger, published
I am proud of myself because I use to be not able to control
my anger. After being placed in therapeutic foster care and
seeing my therapist I have learned to control my anger. My foster
family and I go on therapeutic walks and sit down and talk about
my feelings. My foster family clipped an old article out of
Fostering Perspectives about things you can say to yourself
to keep a lid on your anger. This helps me a lot in remembering
how to control my anger.
received $15 for having his essay published
received $15 for having his drawing published
Ive been working really hard to accomplish things that
I can be proud of. Im proud that I can actually do homework
without getting frustrated. I used to get mad and quit. Im
proud that Ive made friends. Im proud that Ive
learned to snowboard. I dont snowboard a lot, but Im
pretty good at it, though. Im really good at skiing because
I can grind on skis.
My favorite thing
to do is cheerlead. I can do a back handspring, and Im
a flyer. . .
Now that I found
out that people arent perfect, Im proud to be who
received $15 for having her essay published
received $15 for having her drawing published
My adoptive mother, Elizabeth, helped me discover my talent
for writing. I was placed in foster care when I was three and
a half years old. I was a behavior problem. I went through four
different homes in only a years time span. Nobody took
time with me until Elizabeth. I know I was bad and cost her
a lot, but she still gave me a chance. . . .
Even though I still
get in trouble, I think that with her help I could turn my talent
into something worthwhile. So I can then make what makes me
proud, make her proud too!
received $15 for having his essay published
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