My name is Markitta Washington, and I'm a former ward of the state of Mississippi. I am currently majoring in the field of social work at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. In my eyes, I have made tremendous strides to become something more than just another statistic. I wanted to be more than that. I made it my mission to graduate high school and I will do the same for college. I did not want to use the excuse of being a "foster kid" to hinder my success. I didn’t use the fact that I was in foster care as a crutch. Instead, I used it as a stair step. I took advantage of each and everything that the foster care system gave me.
My placement in foster care was not an easy one. I did not show it on the outside, but on the inside I was battling with my emotions. I came from an abusive home and put all the blame on myself. I am the oldest of three children, and it was my job to take care of my younger brothers. My birth mother had hallucinations where she did not know where she was or who we were. This resulted in bruises and battered behinds. I was the shield for my siblings, and it broke my heart when I was separated from them during the process of being placed in state custody. I thought that if I didn't tell the authorities about the physical and sexual abuse, I would’ve still been able to protect them. But if I hadn’t notified the proper people about my situation, I would not be where I am today.
Foster care gave me a chance to discover myself. I did not have a chance to be a child in my mother's household. I was too busy taking care of my brothers to ever focus on myself. In foster care, I was given a chance to love myself and to think about me. I was surrounded by love in this new environment. From my foster parents to my social workers, I was spoiled with attention. I never had this kind of attention growing up. I blossomed under this special devotion, and I went from being shy and meek to being outgoing and bubbly. I am happy, and you can tell this by the glow on my skin. I have never had this much love envelope me. It was foreign to me at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.
When I was younger, I used to hear all kinds of horror stories about foster homes. Luckily, I was placed into a loving home, a home that dispelled all the rumors I had heard. I was treated like family. My foster parents welcomed me with open arms, and I thank God every single day to have been blessed with this wonderful family. I have been with my foster family for seven years, and I’ve joked with them that they haven’t kicked me out yet! Even after my emancipation from the state, my foster parents still hold me near and dear. Eight years ago I would have never dreamed of this outcome.
Eight years ago, when I entered the foster care system, I did not see a bright future for myself. Eight years ago, I also could not have seen myself graduating from high school or attending college. Eight years ago, I could not have envisioned myself as the young lady I am today. Because of foster care, I thank my lucky stars for the chance to restart my life for the better.