There are nearly 1,500 foster children in the state of North Dakota. While many foster parents in our state are doing their best to help kids going through the system– many don’t always take on older children.
Kristy Johnson has been a former older foster child herself. She tells KX News about her life going in and out of the system and the importance of accepting older children.
“Being in foster care is very scary. I felt very lost and I felt and like a little dot on a huge map,” says Johnson.
Johnson was born to really young parents who weren’t very stable. She would move in and out of her mom’s, dad’s, and grandparents’ house constantly, which eventually put her in the foster care system at a very young age. And by the time she was 16-year-old, she says it took a toll on her.
“By then I was really shut down. I didn’t trust– If someone told me that ‘oh you have so many great gifts and you’re capable of so many things.’ I just didn’t believe it. But tells me older kids are definitely a different kind of group to foster, but for a good reason,” says Johnson.
Johnson eventually ran away from her last foster home even though she says her foster mom tried her hardest to make her the best person she could be. Just like Johnson and many older kids in the system, they get to a breaking point.
“But it was really hard to let anybody in– you know,” says Johnson. “The way we saw it was well we aren’t going to be here long. Why do you care?”
Johnson won’t argue that she wasn’t the easiest child to deal with and it’s certainly is a big commitment to foster an older child. But she says it means more to them than you would think.
“I think where the real love and the real dedication is with the children that are older. The children that have been shuffled around and just need a good stable home. It’s not going to be easy but as long as you don’t give up on those children– they are going to start eventually trusting you.”
Going through the foster care system as an older child herself, she wants other kids to keep an open mind when it comes to meeting new foster parents.
“No matter what their life is going to be what they make it and their parents are good parents. You have good parents no matter what the circumstances are. My parents did the best with what they could. Everybody is at a different spot in their life. If someone is trying to help you– you have nothing to lose by letting them in. “
Johnson still stays in full contact with her last foster mother. She is now a Peer Support Specialist for the state of North Dakota– and says the state is doing a great job with helping foster kids and working with parents to get them back on track.