Will there ever be another spring?

This is a picture of me shoveling snow after one of New England's famous major storms.

My room was the third one in from the right on the second floor. The agency had to send me to "Siberia" aka "The White Mountains of New Hampshire" in order to keep me off the corner of Newbury and Fairfield Sts.

This was my last foster home placement before I "aged-out". Most do not know how traumatic it is to "age out" of the system. It is the equivelent of having your whole life, in one day, being totally wiped out and everything you knew was no longer. Despite the fact that you really did not belong to any of those foster families, you did have the agency. The agency was my constant and on my 18th birthday, their doors became closed to me forever. I wasn't prepared for anything. My 18th birthday meant fend for yourself. So questions entered my head such as: "Where am I going to sleep tomorrow?" "What if I get into real trouble? There will be no one to call." I had been one of the youngest ones on "the corner" and most had gone on with their lives. Fear set in on my 18th birthday.

What a life education I received. My first foster home was a mansion and I had my own horse named Handsome, jodphers, boots, riding crop and an English saddle. I learned how to post and cantor on my own horse which I was required to groom. I joined 4H and was required to ride my horse to the meetings. I went to school and did my homework. This was a nice place but my foster mother soon got terminally ill and I was moved to another foster home.

The next home was a very quiet place because my foster father was a Northeastern University professor. My foster mother here taught me how to play the piano. I was told that they were moving to Colorado so I had to move. In my next home, my foster mother always held her left boob and I knew she did not want me in her house. On Holy Thursday, we went to church together and they were serving communion. As the Deacon passed the tray of little glasses of wine down each row of the congregation, I reached for one because I understood the minister's sermon that it represented the blood of Jesus and this was an open communion and the minister encouraged all to participate. This concept touched me. My boob holding foster mother said I could not have communion because I wasn't worthy. I soon ranaway again. My next foster parents were both deaf. They couldn't hear me talking and I didn't understand sign language.

You soon learned not to get attached to your foster home because you never knew if a social worker was going to be waiting for you after school to move you to another home. Just about every foster kid you meet will say to you, "My greatest wish is to be adopted then I will know I belong."

So I sought the corner of Newbury and Fairfield Sts. at every opportunity but I knew if I got into real trouble that I had an agency backing me up. I think the agency must have run out of options for me because in my next foster home I was the only White kid. When my foster mother brought me to Roxbury so she could visit her friends, or have her hair done, or eat in a restaurant; she made me wait outside. This made me a verbal target from the Blacks in the neighborhood who called me names. Threats were shouted out at me. I was just a kid and didn't understand but I knew I was scared.

I enrolled myself in school. School was a place I knew where I could be safe and sheltered. Eventually, I was called into the principal's office and was told that since I had no legal residence, the school was not responsible for educating me. So I left and never received a high school diploma as a result.

The one good thing about this foster home was that at least I had the familiar streets available to me and could steal my food and clothes. One day a cop picked me up for theft and brought me to this foster home. A social worker was called in and this cop said to her "Why did you put Janice in this place?" (The cop's remark caused me to have a good feeling inside. This was the first time in my life that I was recognized as being a human being worthy of something better.)

My foster mother always called me "White Trash" and I didn't know what that meant. She forced me to eat white bread with green mold on it. When I was asleep, she would sometimes throw water on me and kick me out of the house. Soon I ran away and lived on the streets. I still considered my real home to be the corner of Newbury and Fairfield. Eventually I was caught and that was when I was sent to my last foster home.

I still don't know if my last foster home was a good experience that jolted me into a different direction or a harmful experience that left me witn no self-worth. It is the same as when you physically reach a certain temperature, you don't know if you are hot or cold. My last foster home was a "nut house". I did learn that one of my foster mothers there had been psychiatrically hospitalized throughout most of her life and she had dillussions of being a psychiatrist herself.

This is where my name was changed from "Janice" to "Karin". My name change had something to do with being "born again" (a fundamental Protestant concept). A miracle was going to happen because being reborn would change me into submissiveness instead of being rebellious. My foster mothers explained that this was in the Bible. Being "born again" had something to do with a guy up in a tree called Nicodemus..... Jesus walked under the tree and looked up at this man who perceived himself as a sinner and Jesus told Nicodemus that he could be reborn and be called by another name. This would then make him a righteous man. As part of the "rebirth process", my name had to be changed so all my legal papers were filled out as "Karin". Did you ever try to change your name so others would call you by your real name? It is next to impossible.

We were not allowed to listen to the radio or watch TV or have friends. We were not allowed to talk to each other. I was not allowed to go to school because I was told by the foster parents that I was such a bad person. Regardless, I was from out of state so I could not go to school anyway. I was allowed to read for one hour a day. We had a "work schedule" and you were too scared to refuse.

Sometimes you have to be ground down to a nothing before you can become a something. My last foster home constantly beat you down as a person. Maybe I needed that.

I wonder where my life would have gone if my first foster home had lasted.

A young man I know, who is in and out of jail, said he saw written on the wall next to his cot: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always be where you've alway been". Maybe "Siberia" was the right place for me because there were no corners to hang on in the White Mountains! AND I did love hanging on corners in Boston because I met total acceptance there from my friends.