Myron is now on his own. He was raised by a system, not a family. And, thanks to a few people who went beyond the minimal expectations, he worked through the worst parts and grew into a fine young man who is now in his late twenties.
When he spoke to a room full of people, he had our undivided attention.
Like a number of adolescents, Myron tried running away from foster care, and he had some brushes with the correction system. “There is no such thing as a pillow or any kind of comfort on the street,” he said.
“On the street we were all looking for a family. We found “friends” on the street, and we became family to each other, until one of us got put in jail …..or drowned.”
At a time when he needed more than anything else to have someone in his life who’d see the possibilities in him, Myron remembers a probation officer saying, “You’re just another 50 cents in my pay check.”
“When I graduated [from high school] I wanted to find him and rub his nose in it.”
And then Myron shared his memories about some key people who “respected me and let me be myself.”
There is a family who eventually took him into their hearts and remain a steady force in his life. “I have someone there now – for back-up,” as he describes it.
And there was one very special caseworker. Myron dares to think there were two things that made her happy — to see him graduate and to see his brother get out of jail.
At last, as he was about to leave the child welfare system he discovered that he was in fact important to a tiny selection of people who wanted the best for him. And that is what it took for him to see the best in himself.
“I wondered if she [his caseworker] would be there for my graduation. And she was. I saw her there waving! Afterward I ran over and gave her such a big hug.”
In the news we hear about the times when people who work in child welfare mess up. Myron’s caseworker is like lots of others who strive to give the best the system can offer to the children it serves. They get up on week day and weekend mornings, put on their work clothes and stand in for absent parents on birthdays, at court hearings and at graduations.
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