Ashley spent years of her life in the foster care system. Her foster parents weren’t always good, in fact, very few of them were good. Ashley wondered if she would ever see her mother again and if she would ever have a family.
When Ashley was very young, she was put into the foster care system in Florida. She had formerly lived in South Carolina. She had vague memories of her life in South Carolina. There were two little brothers, one of which went into a box. There were fights and cuss words, but Florida soon became Ashley’s home.
Things got bad in Florida and Ashley ended up being put into the foster care system along with her brother Luke. Ashley bounced from one foster care home to the other. It’s not that Ashley was bad, it’s that the foster care system was broken. Some homes were overcrowded. In some homes, people took care of children who should not be taking care of children.
One home, in particular, was just awful. The woman made children drink hot sauce. She dunked their heads under the water in the bathtub. She took away the belongings of the children and put them in sheds. She lied about everything. She hit children with spoons. She starved children. She made some of the older kids take care of the younger children. The list goes on.
Ashley finally got out of this ordeal, but no one would listen to her about her treatment there. Finally, she ended up in a community for foster care children. This community was very good for Ashley, but she still wanted a home. At one point, she found out that someone wanted her. They were the Courter family. Ashley didn’t really know how to take this because she had been passed around for years. She had waited for her mother to straighten up, but she never did.
Despite Ashley’s worries, she was adopted by the Courter family, but the adjustment was not easy. Ashley didn’t know how to act as a child of parents that weren’t parents to a whole bunch of other children. She didn’t know what was appropriate and what was not. She still had trust issues. She didn’t know if she could ever love her adopted parents. Eventually, Ashley got a chance to help punish the couple who had been so awful to her. They didn’t get what they deserved, but they got part of it.
Ultimately, Ashley ended up becoming influential in the world of foster care and even goes around to speak about the system.
What I liked
Another memoir dragged me in, again.
Ashley definitely did not have an easy life. First of all, she’s named Ashley, which is an overused name and around the time Ashley was born, there were lots of other Ashleys and it was difficult to stand out amongst so many Ashleys. Second of all, her mother was kind of a screw-up. Third of all, she went into foster care, some of it wasn’t very good. In the end, Ashley won. She turned out ok. She ended up with a family, which is the ultimate goal of the foster care system. Children are supposed to end up in family units.
Ashley’s life was definitely interesting, but it’s not really anything I haven’t heard before. I do like the insights into the foster care system and Ashley’s quest for a family.
She was very lucky. I know it may not sound as if she was lucky, but she was. Ashley was so, so, so lucky. First off, she wasn’t sexually abused. She wasn’t sold for money. She wasn’t trafficked. These are all problems associated with girls, and children, in general, in the foster care system. She was hit a few times, but she wasn’t beaten terribly. She got to stay relatively close by to her brother. She got adopted into a family that had money and the means to show her things most average kids don’t get to see. Ashley really, really lucked up.
What I didn’t like
The foster care system isn’t perfect, but it does get things right every once in a while and saves lives. Sometimes there are people that just don’t need children. I’ve known a few in my life.
There was this girl I went to school with growing up. I later working with her at a nursing home after we were of age. This girl had two or three kids, I forget how many, by the time she was twenty-two. She was constantly getting her kids taken away by the state and with good reason. She was a crap mom. She didn’t need children. Whenever I heard that she was getting her kids back, I would always be a little upset. She and her sister were both awful mothers. The sister also happened to work at the nursing home and had a child. We’re talking about neglect, violence, and general lack of caring from these women. They didn’t need kids, but for some reason the state kept putting their children back into their arms. I get trying to give people a second chance, but maybe we should use that maxim, “Full me once, shame on you; full me twice, shame on me.”
The system can be very broken, such as the times when they give children back to parents who don’t need them, but there are also a lot of short-cuts around regulations and too much red-tape where there needs to be less red tape.
Getting back to the book, Ashley’s time was so terrible because nobody was checking proper procedures. Nobody was making sure people were qualified to be foster parents. Nobody was making sure the children kept their belongings. Nobody was making sure proper paperwork was filled out. It was all a big mess. If it hadn’t been such a mess, Ashley probably wouldn’t have had to have gone through half the things she did.
Ultimately, Ashley’s mother never needed to get her back. It’s a good thing it didn’t happen. It’s a harsh reality when you must admit that a child is truly better off without a certain parent.
I’m very glad that Ashley ended up ok, but she also doesn’t have the saddest foster care story I’ve come across.
Would you ever consider going through the foster care system to adopt a child?
Do you feel that Ashley was very lucky in how things ended up?