There are an estimated twelve million former foster kids in the United States alone. Many successful survivors of abuse have created good lives for themselves, but most of them don’t speak o their childhood experiences. They had to live through it, and aren’t interested in dredging it up and reliving it by talking about it.
There are myriad misconceptions about foster kids and foster care. Some people assume that foster kids are bad. They don’t understand that the kids in foster care are there because they’ve been mistreated, sometimes in unthinkable ways. Some people assume that foster parents are “in it for the money.” What they clearly don’t understand is that there isn’t enough money on Earth to compensate good foster families for the sacrifices and hard work of loving a wounded child into wholeness. Some people think that kids who’ve been abused are “too broken to be fixed.” Another inaccurate assumption. The truth is that many people who experienced childhood abuse are stronger, more resilient, more resourceful, more courageous, and more determined to live good lives than the average person. According to Dr. Lawrence Calhoun, UNC University Psychology Professor, and author of Post Traumatic Growth in Clinical Practice, it is possible to be stronger following trauma.Yes, I said, “PTSG,” NOT PTSD!
When the media reports on foster care, the reports are of a negative nature. Journalists write articles about the people who take in foster kids solely for the money. TV reporters cue the melancholy music and produce heart-wrenching segments on the occasional brutal end of the tragic life of a foster child. And recently, the media has covered the sad fact that some foster kids find themselves trapped in the life of trafficking.
Despite this nearly overwhelming negativity, the truth is that there are myriad inspiring stories of people who have overcome tremendous pain and adversity to live good lives. Additionally, there are many wonderful people who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping victims of abuse overcome their painful experiences. Sadly, these good news stories rarely capture the attention of national media. To counter this, the Successful Survivors Foundation, a non profit organization founded to help victims of abuse succeed not despite, but because of what they’ve been through, set out to find some of the inspiring stories of overcomers and those who help others overcome. They established an annual award for overcomers in the categories of foster alumni, foster parents, teachers, social workers, and visionaries. They sought nominations, evaluated the submissions, and found themselves with the very difficult task of choosing winners in each category.
Every nomination submission received told the story of abandonment, neglect, and abuse followed by the emerging of the strong, resilient, courageous person who grew from the ashes of pain. The stories that follow are the highlights of the winners of the 2015 Successful Survivors Foundation Overcomer Awards in the categories of Foster Alum, Educator, Foster Parent, and Social Worker.
We recognize and celebrate every overcomer and the heroes who help others overcome.