By. Rosa Salinas, M.A.
I remember walking to the office at the age of thirteen and sitting there waiting to speak to my school counselor; I was a nervous wreck, but I had made the decision to ask to be put into foster care… and I was terrified. I knew I needed to be in a place where I could work on myself and move past the traumas I had faced that led to my removal from home. My school counselor helped me call my social worker and within a couple hours a young girl picked me up and drove me to A Coming of Age FFA, where my entire world changed for the best.
I sat there, scared and nervous. Soon, a woman with bright lipstick called me into the office and began talking to me about what was going to be taking place. Cela, that was her name. I was very worried about living with strangers, but I knew I needed to go through this in order to get out of the system. After several placements, I was finally taken to a spunky, silly, loving home with Miranda and Tony as my foster parents. It was new world, I was raised by old school Mexican parents and here I was with younger, hippie white parents. Nevertheless, it worked!! They welcomed me into their home, I was the first female child to ever live there and they made me feel loved and important, something I had not felt for most of my life. Cela became my permanent social worker and Miranda my last foster mom until I was reunited with my mother. I felt like a part of the family, Cela became my mentor and Miranda my mom. A coming of Age FFA provided me with stability and family which fed parts of my heard in more ways than I knew possible. I became their child. I looked up to Cela and knew from that age that I wanted to be just like her; a social worker and a probation officer. Neither one of them ever exited my life, they maintained a positive role in my upbringing, far past my time in the foster system. I was provided with love and guidance that kept me going throughout my life, when things became difficult back at home after my reunification, I knew I had another family to count on. I fought to make them proud. I knew that I didn’t want to let this part of my life define the rest of my life.
Today I have a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, and I get to work with foster youth every day. I get to show them that anything is possible, and that our traumas and disappointments don’t have to become who we are. I am so proud to call Cela and Miranda my mom’s. They have seen me through every graduation, High School through Graduate school and they have shared in my joy and overcoming of obstacles since The day I met them at the age of thirteen until now. Today I am 30 years old, a mom, a wife, a therapist… I want to thank A Coming of Age for taking me in at my own request and providing me with great placements, great opportunities, great role models, and genuine love. I am so humbled by the love and familial experience I was provided with because it shaped all that I am. That time of my life reminded me that I deserved to be loved and cared for, had it not been for that experience I’m not sure I would be here today. I exhibited resiliency when the world expected me to fail. The odds of abused children placed in the foster system aren’t always positive but A Coming of Age changed those odds with positive placement and life skills. From the bottom of my heart, thank you David for all that you do to ensure the best for the kids in your agency. It only takes one person to change the life of a child, and I can attest to that with a grateful heart for the rest of my life.
Love, Rosa Salinas