Different Homes

by Michael Mackey

Yes, I’ve been in many group homes and foster homes. I’m surprised I’m not the poster child for the foster system. I was rst placed in the foster system when I was seven years old. My twin sister, Michelle, and two younger brothers, Johnnie and John Earl were also with me.

My uncles and aunties made the decision to place us in the foster system. I’m not sure if our granny was a part of that, but I think she knew.

The only person who asked if we wanted or needed anything was the case worker who was assigned to us, and a few staff members as well. I didn’t think it was fair being placed in the system because at a young age, I thought it was our family’s responsibility to work things out and to help one another.

What was it like to be separated from our family and all that we knew? It was life changing, gruesome, hurtful. I felt purely retaliatory toward the whole world and the cards I was dealt. What I missed the most was being a whole family, feeling complete, being with my parents through good times and bad ones, family support.

What was going on in our family was struggle and jealousy. My parents weren’t the wealthiest parents, but they did make ends meet. My father, Michael, took a chance in selling drugs to get extra money for the holidays and to “get caught up”. Our mother struggled to take care of us; our family didn’t help her or us all like that. We weren’t their responsibility was how they gured it. Drugs played a factor in that situation as well. So, they agreed to call CPS on our mother, thinking that was best for us all. (They were so-so wrong.)

While in foster care, the staff members who were working were responsible for us. I was responsible for my remaining family, my brothers and my sister. Some homes treated us great, others didn’t. The ones that didn’t treat us right outweighed the ones that did. The homes we were in with staff that treated us right are the ones that I tried to keep in my life, the ones I tried to hold onto, because they were the only outside happiness that we had. I loved them, to a certain extent.

What I felt for myself was an emotional roller coaster, but still vigorous about thinking our family was going to come get us someday, which never happened.

Being in the foster system I always felt alone, even with my siblings I still felt alone, super angry, and an endless resentful feeling. When I got separated from my siblings, a tremendous change happened within me. I had no more hope. No more listening to anyone, I didn’t give a damn who they were. The only emotion that I felt was a cynical one. I never went to the Hall. I missed that ship.

There are some great group homes out there and, if you’re in one, hold onto it.

Here’s my advice to the adolescents out there who are, or who are going to be, in the foster system… Stay true to yourself. Don’t follow the wrong crowds, because you are better than you think you are, and what others think about you. You may or may not have come from a discombobulated family “with grim determinations”. Don’t be content with the life you were given. Defy all expectations, set goals, and take the necessary steps to achieve them. Listen to those who genuinely want you to do good and be something in life, who laugh with you, who grieve with you…

But, most importantly, have faith and hope in who you’re trying to become! And in whomever else is rocking with you in that same direction.