"I am a Florida ex-foster care child here, and this happened years ago and I don't even know if the place still exists since I moved to the other side of the globe.
There was a company in central Florida known as the Arnette house, which has a large compound in Ocala. Due to the lack of available foster homes and Jails4Kidz, some genius decided it would be a great idea to house criminal children and foster children together because they're all problem kids, right?
You got in by either being taken into foster care and placed there, or you broke the law so many times that a Florida judge made you a resident at Arnette for rehabilitation. Or both.
While I was stuck there, I saw all sorts of terrible events. Staff members were either great or horrible, nothing ever in between. Once a fight broke out where one of the criminal girls attacked my foster friend, and the staff just sat back for a couple minutes to watch before intervening. I ended up jumping in between them and throwing my arms out sort of like in a T-pose until staff eventually pulled the criminal girl away. I got the nickname Jesus. My long hair at the time probably had something to do with it.
When my younger brother moved in, I found out he (16) was flirting and making romantic moves at a mentally handicapped resident girl (13). I talked to him about it, told him that was NOT OK, and he told me to mind my business. I alerted the staff, and they explained there was nothing they could do until they both ran off together and banged in the nearby woods like a different couple had done a few days prior.
Oh, and the last story, for now, I wasn't allowed to learn how to drive. I lived there from age 16-18 and my high school offered drivers ed courses for free. I was explicitly banned from taking them because the awful big boss claimed that if I learned to drive, 'I could theoretically steal their van and drive away with a bunch of the other residents.'"
"My mom relinquished me to a group home without giving up custody when her abusive boyfriend made her choose which of us would leave.
We went without groceries for three weeks because of employee embezzlement, so I only ate free lunch from school and nothing on weekends. My bus arrived too late to get school breakfast. We also didn't have hygiene products during this time, so I stank in dirty clothes. My home economics teacher did a fundraiser and sold cupcakes during class, and the girl at my table bought three. I was drooling and watching her like a dog watches Thanksgiving dinner. She ate one, then looked me in the eye and said she was too full to eat the others. She spit on the two leftover cupcakes and then threw them away. I put my head down and cried. After class, I told the teacher I was hungry and the group home had no food. She asked me what I wanted her to do, so I just said I didn't know and left for my next class. She never spoke about it again or even checked in to see if I had gotten access to food. Later that week, 'Cupcake Girl,' told me I was nasty and stank so bad that no one could stand me. I dropped out of school a week later.
I made friends with the other group home kids, and a few of them asked if I wanted to go to the park while the guys played basketball. I did and planned to walk with two of the guys to meet up with the other girls and their boyfriends. One dragged me into his room and assaulted me while the other stood guard for staff. I immediately went to the director crying. Because I was still in my mom's custody, they called her when they called the police. My mom laughed and told them I was a tramp, and 'lied about men like this all the time.' So the police snapped their books shut, and the director ripped me a new one for being just another prejudiced rich white girl lying about being assaulted by a black boy before kicking me out. Apparently, she knew I 'was trouble from the start,' since my momma didn't want me.
People had a hard time believing that an upper middle class, professional family just didn't want me. I always got asked 'But what did you do? You must have done something?' So I was a homeless teenager after that for a few years. No one got involved, no one cared about me. It was easier to believe that I was 'troubled,' instead of accepting that a nurse and special education teacher were horribly abusive."
"I could write a series of novels about my foster care experience. I'm currently in the early stages of taking them to court. I won't get into the serious abuse for obvious reasons, but here is a small collection of the worst instances from my experience:
-After the first couple months in the foster home, I was not allowed to take any food to school. Prior to that, my lunchbox was a bread bag. The school instituted a rule stopping kids from sharing their food because of me.
-My bedroom was in a barn outside the house, despite there being two spare rooms in the house. It was full of insects, spiders, and even a snake. There was a resident fruit bat in the main room of the barn.
-I was locked out of the house (on a farm, 12 miles from town) during summer, for up to three days at a time, with no food or anything to drink. All my clothes except what I was currently wearing at any given time were locked in the house.
-When I ran away to a neighbor's house, I was chased and beaten with a lump of wood by the family's youngest son after the neighbor brought me back. I was 12, he was 17 or 18.
-I have a number of scars from various assaults and even burns caused by them.
-The only time they'd clean the house was when they thought the Department of Human Services was going to show up. I recently found out through my files that DHS caught them out on this during a surprise visit in 1998, and the worker also reported extensively the feral living conditions we were in. I was moved out of there in 2002 because the neighbors I mentioned above called the police the second time I went to their house. So DHS knew for four years and did nothing about it.
-I was given one toothbrush when we moved with the foster family. I was there for seven years. We also were never provided soap/shampoo/conditioner etc, and even better, were forced to bathe in the water that several of them had showers in, so by the time we got in there, it was filthy."
"I am 22. Growing up, I lived in a very small county. My high school had fewer than 500 kids total. Everyone knew everyone else. I was taken into the foster care system when I was 16 because my mom had smacked me and then called the cops on ME while she was high. She was arrested that night.
It was a school night, and I woke up around midnight to someone yelling my name and pounding on my bedroom door. When I opened the door, there was a social worker and two police officers standing in my hallway. They told me to grab my school stuff and some clothes and come with them. I cried and said goodbye to my pug. I was in foster care for a few years when I was younger and I knew I wasn't coming home again.
The social worker took me to the social services building and put me in one of the visit rooms. You know the rooms with the double-sided mirror and all the toys where they let foster kids visit their biological parents? I sat alone in that room and cried until around 7:00 am. The social worker took me to a bathroom to change out of my pajamas and into school clothes. Then she took me straight to school. No sleep, no shower. She said she would pick me up after school.
I don't remember a lot of what happened at school that day. I just remember crying a lot and my teachers and the other students asking me what was wrong. I was too ashamed to tell anyone else.
After school, the social worker picked me up and brought me back to social services where my new foster 'family' was waiting in the parking lot. I recognized one of the teenage girls from school, she was a year younger than me and though I had never spoken to her she always seemed like an annoying and rude person. She was one of the biological daughters. The family also had a biological son who was a year older than me, a one-year-old daughter, two other teenage foster girls in the home who didn't go to my school and a younger (maybe 3-year-old) foster girl with special needs.
I remember lots of fake smiles from them at first. I remember crying almost every day and being in trouble for it. The mother didn't let the 'foster kids' into our room until it was bedtime. So when I'd cry I had to do it in the living room in front of everyone. It's very dehumanizing to sit and cry in front of people nearly every day.
They'd make jokes or mean comments about how I was a moody and mopey person. The mother and daughter had 'high school mean girl' personalities. When one of the other foster girls was out of the room, or away on a home visit, they would talk garbage about her and try to get all of us other girls to chime in. We couldn't bond or find comfort in each other, because they were always driving wedges between us. The biological family called us 'the foster kids.' The daughters also called us slaves 'jokingly.' There was a divide in the house, between us and them. We were treated as inferior in every way.
I don't remember a lot of specifics and I didn't want to go into examples of how they treated us, my mind has done a good job of erasing a lot of it, but I think it is important to get across that these people were just evil. They only did it for money and spoiled their children while denying us our basic needs. The father was verbally abusive towards us. The son got into a toxic relationship with one of the girls. The mother and her daughters were horribly emotionally abusive. We weren't allowed any privacy or alone time. The special needs girl that I mentioned earlier slept in a playpen in the living room downstairs by herself because she cried too much. She spent most of her time in there alone because she was 'a bad kid.'
I was so ashamed to be a foster kid. I eventually had to tell my teachers because I couldn't stop crying at school. I kept getting sent outside or to the office. After a few weeks, I'm sure everyone at school knew what had happened. I cannot explain how damaging it was to me personally to see the way people look at you when you're in a situation like that. My teachers, my friends, kids at school that had never liked me, as well as judges, social workers, counselors, even my older sister who didn't live with my mom. Everyone. Everyone looked at me like I was a crippled dog. I developed a real fear of looking people directly in the eyes because I couldn't handle it.
People started walking on eggshells around me or avoiding me completely because it made them feel bad to know what I was going through. As well as being treated like an annoyance and less than human in the foster home, I felt like a burden to everyone who knew me. I made everyone uncomfortable. I think that's the most damage foster care did to me. It took my humanity away from me. I felt like an outcast from my own life. At home I was one of the 'gross foster kids,' and at school, I was the girl who cries a lot and doesn't have a home or a family,' while at court I was 'the poor girl whose mother is an addict.' At counseling, I was 'the girl who had a traumatic childhood and is still suffering.' Everyone had a label I didn't choose for myself. I wasn't allowed to be myself anymore. Everyone took that from me and replaced it with pity and their own discomfort.
Things have turned around more recently in my life. After aging out of the system, I had an amazing old sister to take me in and help me heal."
"My parents just recently got divorced and they were fighting viciously. My mom moved us to Florida from Illinois and had us stay at our aunt's house for a month or two. At the time there were four children in my family. I was three or four years old. My younger brother was around two, and my older sister and brother were no older than 11 or 12.
Anyway, my mom went back to Illinois to fight in court with my dad. So we lived with our aunt. Within those first two weeks, from what my mom told us, after signing a temporary power of attorney over to my aunt, my aunt put us in foster care. I was in multiple homes, from what I can remember. I was so young but some memories will never leave. One of the first homes was the worst one. If I didn't eat my food, I stayed the night at the kitchen table. One time I threw up and I got thrown into a room for a full day and wasn't allowed out. I remember crying under the door saying I was sorry. That same house had like 6-7 kids in it. I shared a room with 4 other children.
From what I remember though, the children were very nice. The foster parents were terrible. Not only did they verbally abuse us, but they fought with each other. The husband and wife would essentially beat the crap out of each other in front of us. It was honestly the scariest experience I remember from when I was that young.
Then I got moved into a different foster home after some time. I can't remember them all, but I do remember temporarily being under the same household as my younger brother. We had a very very nice woman and her older son or maybe a husband? They were so nice. We called her Mrs. Kim. She bought us so many toys, took us to the park all the time. She was an angel. I remember her face still to this day. I hope she's doing well.
My mom was able to fight the courts and two years later got us all back! My aunt pretty much claimed that my mom abandoned us. My aunt and mom still have hatred to this day over it."
"I was in foster care for around nine months in 2010 through 2011, but my parents deny me being in it or there being any circumstances that would require foster care. I was taken out of my parents' home because both of my parents were abusive drinkers. Like there are a few child-head shaped holes in the walls kind of abusive. When I was in foster care, both my little sister and I were violated by other foster kids and biological children to the multiple foster parents we stayed with.
My parents were desperately trying to get custody and I was told to lie by both my parents, their relatives, my own sisters, my foster parents, and most of my case workers but I wanted out of their house badly. I was eventually convinced that going against my parents is the worst thing a child can do, so I lied for them.
Now I'm 19 and I'm struggling hard with PTSD, negative thoughts, and depression. I can't form normal relationships, affection scares me, and I can't remember the last time I was happy. Right now I'm slowly repairing the damage that was done from just my parents but there is so much more I'm struggling with and I just want to end it all. I hate foster care and my parents.
My environment right now has definitely improved, I'm living with my wonderful grandparents who I will be forever grateful towards. I felt like I was tipping over the edge towards the end of my stay with my parents. I'm in therapy and so far, it has done so much to change my entire way of thinking and treating myself; it is a godsend and I don't know what I'd do without it."
"I woke up to my 300-pound foster brother sitting on top of me and choking me half to death.
Girls would constantly steal anything nice I got. This included shower materials and soaps. They stole a laptop (it was a school laptop) and so many clothes. I was a lot younger, 12 or 13, and I didn't know yet, but I was made fun of because I didn't get my period or have chest development, but I didn't know and I'm kind of glad I didn't, because it would have given them more reason to bully me.
There was a lot of fist fighting. I didn't get enough food because other foster kids would take it and I caught pneumonia twice in one month because my foster parents decided a new sports car was more important than heaters or thick winter coats."
"My story is pretty different. I was in foster care for six months when I was a teenager after my parents got sick of dealing with my mental illness and got rid of me for a while.
I don't really have stories of being treated poorly, it's more just the feeling of betrayal from being put there in the first place.
Here's some backstory: I have schizophrenia and OCD, and when I was a teenager I was really up and down and out of control for a while, due to not being on the right medications. I'd freak out, fight with my sister, hurt myself, refuse to eat, and I was just a general mess.
One day, I got into a fight with my sister and my parents called the police on me. They told me to pack a bag and that they were taking me to the county's emergency foster care house. It was a woman who took in kids who needed to go somewhere on short notice. There were only a couple other kids there, one of which I actually knew from school so that was kind of nice.
The foster mother wasn't always too nice to me though. She'd had hundreds of kids go through there so I wasn't anything special or different, just another kid to her. Everything felt very impersonal and distant.
One night, I think my first or second night being there, the foster mom woke me up at 6:00 am screaming at me and accusing me of using her toothbrush. I swore up and down that I didn't and she insisted that I did and kept going on about how disgusting I was. That was probably the worst I was treated during this whole period.
I was there for about 10 days before we had a meeting with the county and I was moved to a 'semi-permanent' placement. That actually wasn't too bad. The couple was older, in their late 60s, and very sweet. They had a big house and I was the only kid there, so they actually paid attention to me and cared for me. They gave me an allowance, allowed me to have pets, took me out to dinner frequently, and allowed me to have friends over. Overall, the experience there was nice.
The foster parents worked through an agency that I'd go up to once a week for therapy and case meetings and it was actually a lot of fun there. Everyone who worked there was very nice, and I got to meet a lot of kids my age with similar problems. Once a month, we'd go places like to the pool or the zoo, and on Saturdays, there was a girl's group. The nicest part was that the agency was owned and run by friends of my grandma's that I'd known since I was a child, and it was really helpful that I had someone I knew around. One of the girls I met there became close to me, and a couple years later she ended up attending my school. She and I are still good friends now.
Then one day I was meeting with my therapist asking when I got to go home for the millionth time, and she told me 'it was a voluntary placement, so whenever your parents are ready.' This was news to me. My parents had been telling me for months that this was ordered by the county and I had finally learned the truth.
I felt completely betrayed and abandoned. My own parents didn't want to deal with me and got rid of me.
I was only in foster care for about six months total before I got to go home and overall the experience was fine, but I've still never been able to come to terms with the fact that my parents willingly put me there and it hurts me to this day, over 10 years later."
"There's a whole lot that I try not to reminisce about, but the short end of the stick is my foster parents clearly had no intention of showing me any kind of love.
Becoming their foster child after being passed around the rest of my biological family and being rejected was really scarring for me. I moved in with them freshman year of high school and I actually ended up staying with them the whole way through. The only reason I chose to stay is that if I left for another foster home, I wouldn't be able to go to the same school, and while they were few, I made some really good friends I wasn't willing to give up so I decided to put up with the neglect.
In hindsight, I suppose I've become stronger from the experience, but it always scares me thinking of ever talking to my family again or even having a girlfriend because I'm afraid that I'll treat them poorly like my family did me."
"Foster care was the worst 16 years of my life. My real mother passed away when I was a few weeks old. I don't know how because the government will not tell me anything about my real biological parents
My childhood was okay from what I remember. When I became a teenager, things went south.
My foster family was very abusive. The one thing that still sticks to me out of all the abuse was watching my little autistic sister get backhanded by the father because she wouldn't stop crying. The foster mother threw a tin can at my face and cut it open and refused to take me to the emergency room and instead super glued the cut and taped it and it got severely infected and I had to lie about what actually happened.
I wasn't allowed to use the bathroom sometimes, I wasn't allowed to leave my bedroom, and they technically held me hostage until school. They told everyone about how terrible I was. And every time I tried to get help from the school, they wouldn't do anything even after showing proof the family denied everything. I was eventually moved to a different family's home while my original foster mother went to Las Vegas for a vacation and I wasn't going back to the evil family that really wanted to destroy everything I had. And now I'm 21 and moving to France in a few weeks to get far away and hopefully start a new life.
I wish I knew how my sister is doing. Hopefully, the government pulled her from the home. I left before she did, so I have no information about her years later. But I want to believe she is doing well."
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