What is it like to be a child growing up in the foster care system? What is it really like to move from home to home and never find the love, care, and family they desire? Chicago author and social worker Trea Jackson shares her experiences as a foster child in the nationally syndicated radio talk show America Tonight with Kate Delaney.
TreaJackson published her book The Innocent Eyes of a Child: Everyone’s Little Girl, But Nobody’s Child(Palmetto Publishing; 2021). Told in the first person, the book tells the story of Brighteyes, who was born into a dysfunctional family and subjected to years of abuse. At age five, she ends up in the foster care system, thus becoming vulnerable to even more abuse and mistreatment. Brighteyes’ foster care journey is filled with challenges and fraught with frustrations, heartbreaks, despair, betrayal, and tears. The Innocent Eyes of a Child reveals the innermost thoughts of a foster child and the comings and goings of the foster care system.
“I decided to share my experiences in foster care,” said Jackson to her host Kate Delaney about her purpose for writing The Innocent Eyes of a Child. “I was taken away at five years old, and I ended growing up in the foster care system. So, I moved around a lot from home to home.
“I wanted to share my story to inspire people, to inspire other foster kids that they’re not alone in this dysfunction. As I moved from home to home, I kept a journal of each home I went to, and I then decided I want to share those experiences with other foster kids because I wanted them to not feel so alone.
“You can get to the foster care system in one piece, and then you can go to college and definitely inspire other people.”
What does a child feel the moment they enter the system? Jackson shared, “When I first entered the foster care system, there was little explaining done to me like many kids are because we are kind of thrown in. I actually suffered a mental breakdown, and I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and I didn’t know it.
“I started to withdraw from the world, and my foster parents did not realize it. They were busy with their own life. I was just there. I just existed.”
Just because a child is placed in a foster home does not mean they are being rescued. The author explained, “I thought I was being rescued, but I started to become a victim of abuse in the foster care system of my foster father.
“He would manipulate me. He would emotionally and physically abuse me.”
How did Jackson, as a foster child, deal with her unique yet painful situation? She did so cathartically.
“I found an escape by walking around with the dogs. Eventually, I started to write. I would write a little story. I would draw stories. They were always fantasy stories of me finding loving parents.
“Eventually, I started to write more realistic ones by ages 8, 9, (and) 10. I started to write what was really going on in my life, which was much different than my fantasy stories. That’s when I started to use my writing.”
The foster care system is overwhelmed and has issues with abuse, negatively affecting children. “What do you think needs to be done that could make the system better?” Delaney asked Jackson, to which she responded: “What I think could be done is for one, I think a lot of policies need to be changed.
“I think the government has to involve everyone, all the parties involved, and call upon former foster kids and get our opinions and stuff like that, what we went through. Use our experiences.
“Then, also get the local community involved as well, so we can come together and come up with the plan and the strategy to help foster kids.
“We have to tell the truth. One of the things that we have to do is tell the truth. We can’t keep sugarcoating and anything. What if it wasn’t that bad? But then, it does impact us as we become adults.”
Learn more about what goes on in the life of a foster child and the foster care system in Trea Jackson’s book The Innocent Eyes of a Child: Everyone’s Little Girl, But Nobody’s Child. Order today on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the author’s website https://www.treajackson.com/