Comments: 107 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

beegilbz24 karma

There were many. But I would have to say one of the worst encounters I ever had was with my old foster mothers boyfriend, who was proudly six months younger than her oldest son. He was an alcoholic and hid it from us. I would find half gallons of vodka hidden in the bathroom and he would be drunk off his ass almost every night. One morning, about ten am. I get a call from my lawyer stating that my mom is in jail. As soon as I get off the phone I hear a strange noise coming from outside. I go to the front door, already in tears, and my foster moms man is sitting on the porch bleeding singing to the cats. I open the door to ask if he's ok, and he pushes me to the ground. Saying ridiculous things and shouting at the top of his lungs standing over top of me. This was about a week and a half after I moved in. He continued this for about thirty minutes and I managed to hide myself in the bathroom and phone the police. I was not allowed to live there much longer after I had criminalized the homeowner's boy toy.

keepcomingback8 karma

I grew up with alcoholic parents and siblings. Eventually at 19, I found a group called Al-Anon that I decided to attend regularly. It's similar to Alcoholics Anonymous but it's focus is for the friends and family of alcoholics.

I just wanted to share this with you. It not only saved my life but increased the quality of my life immensely. For a while I felt like I was just surviving. After a while, life seems pretty shitty when all you're doing is surviving.

There may be a group near you, if you're interested. Either way, a new chapter in your life awaits you. We're not given anything we can't handle.

beegilbz5 karma

I've heard of that group actually. I'm sure at some point in life therapy, or groups will be helpful, and if I ever truly feel a need to speak I'll go. Thank you for reaching out on that one. For now I'm just trying to put the past behind me and focus on my studies.

British_Monkey2 karma

Christ girl you've had a hard life allready. From your comments you sound like a really strong woman. I really hope life works out for, you deserve it. * hugs *

beegilbz2 karma

<3 thank you

mateo_rules-1 karma

It's notes bad here In Canada we both have been through the shit and came out clean every days a gift shit happens we grow

beegilbz1 karma

Spot on. Have an upvote.

thaaatguy11 karma

What was the most dangerous situation you encountered in the system?

beegilbz7 karma

I meant to reply this way, commented instead. Excuse me, on my mobile.

mungloaf2478 karma

I think you are a very strong woman who has a bright future ahead of her and the power to do wonderful things in this world. I hope you never let anyone convince you that you can't do something incredible because being where you are, you have already accomplished so much. It's a tough world, keep your head up.

Stranger, I am proud of you.

beegilbz7 karma

Why thank you stranger. That means a lot. Validation is always a nice feeling.

cp51846 karma

Was there anything particular that kept you on the right track and kept your grades up?

Are there any easy, quick, or obvious ways to fix the system? Is it a resources problem? Would more caseworkers help? Would recruiting more foster families help?

What do you do for fun?

beegilbz8 karma

Determination to not become like my foster parents helped. As most of them lived off of my foster care check that came. (About $1000.)

More foster parents, more caseworker, harder certification requirements, and more resources. Also, attending to the kids and treating them as children instead of criminals. I know a lot of foster kids have to go through drug tests simply because it's required. It's really demeaning.

I ski, long board, was a cheerleader, I like to hike and spend a lot of my time outdoors. I like to spend a lot of time with friends and my very supportive boyfriend and his family.

KoukaHitatsu0 karma

I posted on another of your comments, but I have to comment on this as well. This one foster home I was at for about a week, had 12 kids in a conjoined trailer that consisted of 2 double-wide trailers. They had the older kids watching the younger kids while they went out the entire day shopping and all kinds of bullshit that aggravated us older kids off.

beegilbz1 karma

Yeah, stuff like that is bullshit. Some of the conditions they put people in are just ridiculous. Although my family was abusive we were also pretty well off. So going from a nice house in a good neighborhood to beat down shacks in the poorest parts of town definitely can provide a good bit of culture shock.

fenders0013 karma

I've been there as well and it was so incredibly depressing. The caseworkers usually come and go so fast, there are rarely good ones who really want to help. But they are there and I thank those case workers. In my case, though, they had a program where if you were in foster care for 6 months, you get free college until you are 28 (some exceptions) and a monthly educational stipend until you were 23. Let me say, if they offer that, do take advantage of it. There are so many programs that can help you out and because of it I was able to get my AA and 2 semesters away from getting my BA. Good luck!

beegilbz3 karma

Congrats, and yes I am trying to take that same path as well. What state are you in?

fenders0011 karma

I'm in Florida. And congrats to you as well. Stick with it and keep positive.

beegilbz3 karma

Thank you. You're strong too for going through it.

courtFTW2 karma

Would you ever consider being a foster parent yourself? Being that you've been through the system, you could empathize with the kids.

beegilbz5 karma

I have considered it. It's a funny thought for me to consider at this moment, I'm 18 and nowhere near ready to have children of my own. But honestly, I think it would be really hard for me to become a foster parent, especially without adopting every child that would come through my house. I would feel too guilty letting them continue down such a rough path without feeling loved by an actual parent figure. So, I guess, I don't know. It's something I would have to think about more in depth.

flukz1 karma

I don't know how this works, though there have been a few comments here recently that have given me an idea. For instance being rotated out of the system at 18, which I'd never thought of and seems very scary.

My question is, do children in foster care get moved for any reason outside of the child or parent requesting it? Can a child put into foster care stay for however long until they become of age if no problems arise?

beegilbz1 karma

That's kind of a complicated question. Let me see if I can answer. 1. A child can request to move, but if they are young, mentally unstable, not at risk, or simply just complaining, they won't move unless you take drastic measures. (Example: I had to run away to stay with my friends a couple times in order to even get DHS' attention. 2. Foster parents are usually listened to more by the agencies, but even if they request a move, it may be weeks before this actually happens. 3. A lot of this depends on foster care availability. Want to move? No where to go? Well, you're staying where you are. Or worst case scenario, going to a shelter for runaways. I stayed at one for 1 1/2 months where the limit was two weeks because there was nowhere to put me. 4. Finally, if a parent is able to take care of a child, the child will be placed back with them. In most cases the goal of foster care is to place the child back with their family. Sadly, instances such as this are rare and do not occur often.
I hope that helps answer your question?

courtFTW2 karma

I try not to think of it often...but I've always wondered about the kids who just age out of the system. It seriously makes me cry just thinking about it.

You're in college- where do you go on Christmas, spring, and summer break?

beegilbz4 karma

I work, so I save money to travel. My father and I have recently met an understanding with each other and are able to meet briefly. I spent last Christmas day with him and it wasn't too horrible. This summer I may be going to France with my boyfriend and his family. I am very lucky to have him in my life. Regardless, I am never really alone for these fun times.

courtFTW1 karma

So you went home to your dad for this Christmas break? What about spring break this year?

beegilbz3 karma

I'm traveling down to Bozeman, Montana with some of my friends to ski and see some of our friends. It should be a good time. I've saved up enough to go and I'm really excited.

courtFTW0 karma

Wow, you really do plan things out. Do you feel a lot of pressure to make friends because you don't really have anyone else to fall back on, so to speak? Who do you list as your emergency contact on forms?

beegilbz3 karma

Friend's parents who I've verified with. I wouldn't say I feel pressure to make friends. I have a few really close friends, and parents of close friends who have really been there for me through this whole process. But yes, I do like to have things planned.

rofLopolous2 karma

What now?

beegilbz11 karma

I am eligible for grants from the state of Oregon to help support me through college. I plan on becoming a dentist. But the freedom I am experiencing from not dealing with DHS is worth everything to me right now.

ajm12884 karma

Cheers to you, glad to see someone who doesn't makes excuses, only proves you can be successful no matter what circumstances you grew up in.

beegilbz5 karma

Thank you. Yes, excuses are the downfall of many in difficult situations. Most of my friends are from wealthy families and don't have much to complain about. So when I hear excuses it really irks me. I try my best not to be one of those people.

KoukaHitatsu1 karma

Yeah, I had been a part of the system most of my non-adult life and bouncing around all the towns in various counties, keeping friends was hard, but I did keep a few who I still talk to, to this day. Some of them had no idea, while others did. I must congratulate you though on getting into college and keeping clean.

beegilbz1 karma

The friends part can be difficult. Thank you so much on the congrats. I had to work really hard to be where I am today.

stack_cats1 karma

Congrats! Look into chafee and subsidy, there are ilp programs in your area that can helpyou do the paperwork. It's free money and can help you without "being in dhs"

beegilbz2 karma

Yes! All of these things are really helping me through this financially. I really wish more people knew how helpful these things are to people in my situation.

Sajanova2 karma

Have you been abused in foster care? Have you had friendships with the children there?

beegilbz10 karma

Foster care in itself is abuse. Most children in it, no matter how horrible their home lives were will tell you that they would rather be with their parents. I befriended a girl in the first foster home I was placed into. She was the only one that spoke English in that household, she was 17 and 8 months pregnant when I met her. I was 14 and quite taken back by the whole situation. I was one of the first to hold her baby, but have no idea how she is doing now.

Sajanova1 karma

What languages were spoken there? have you learnt any new language by being there?

beegilbz3 karma

Portugese, a little Spanish, and very broken, heavily accented, small bits of English. I can speak a little Spanish, but not enough to get me by on a daily basis. I didn't see my foster parents enough to learn anything.

Eurydiice2 karma

Why were you moved around so much while in foster care?

beegilbz7 karma

Abusive households. I was moved into therapeutic foster care because there was nowhere else to put me. Therapeutic essentially means restricted privileges. I was allowed 4 hours of time alone a week, had my cellphone taken from me and was not allowed internet. Keep in mind, I am a straight A student with zero mental health issues, other than mild PTSD from this whole experience. 4 hours a week! I was seventeen at the time.

courtFTW3 karma

How the heck is that therapeutic? What's the reasoning behind that?

beegilbz5 karma

It's meant for kids who are suicidal, out of control, or even kids with physical or mental disabilities. Not for someone who is capable of having a normal life and functioning on a normal level. Like I said before, lack of availbilty gave me no other option than to stay there.

Undercrown2 karma

DHS as in Department of Homeland Security?

beegilbz1 karma

Department of Human Services

liberty4u22 karma

Good for you, just keep going. In 3rd grade I was removed from my house and placed in an orphanage (that place was horrible kinda like a prison). However I was placed with a wonderful foster family. Fast forward 30 some years I'm a very sucessful doctor with a great life. I'm convinced that childhood pain either destroys a person for life or gives them a drive to be successful.

beegilbz1 karma

Wow, very proud of you! What do you practice. Aside from dentistry also looking into becoming some kind of doctor. A specialist hopefully.

a_telescreen1 karma

you sound significantly older!

beegilbz3 karma

Thank you, I have always been told that I sound more mature than my age. I'm quite articulate and writing is my best subject, however in person I tend to stutter a bit and am much less articulate. Haaha

John-Galt-20131 karma

I'm interested to know the extent, if any, that psychiatric drugs were used as a tool of control? I read that many children are kept drugged often against their wills to make them more docile and agreeable. What are your thoughts?

beegilbz3 karma

Never for me. But I can certainly see that becoming a situation. Either in which a child is so depressed they need to be medicated or otherwise. I know that I was in the therapy home I was not even allowed to take my birth control on my own. I had to stand there and swallow it while my foster parent watched. Not because they didn't trust me, but because their contract required them to. After a certain age, I think 16, you have your own say in what medecines you take.

AayKay1 karma

Do you ever feel alone in this world? If so, then what do you do to curb the feeling.

How do you see your future becoming as? Did you ever have a boyfriend?

beegilbz3 karma

Luckily I never really felt too alone. I am very social and love people, so I was always making new friends. Through this experience I did have a boyfriend who ended up being bad for me. Towards the end, now, I do have a wonderful boyfriend that is better than anything I could ever ask for. He is wonderful, the best. As for my future, school.

hhhnnnnnggggggg1 karma

How often did abuse occur to you in foster homes? What suggestions would you make to help stop it?

beegilbz3 karma

It depends what qualifies as abuse. I was only physically abused in the alcoholic's girlfriend's home. That happened twice in the week long period I was there. In the Spanish speaking home I wasn't allowed groceries or anything like that and would be yelled at if I ate something I shouldn't have out of the pantry. As for the therapy home, although I was under such strict conditions, I was treated far better and would not qualify it as abuse although it was a very restricting environment.

aslate1 karma

So your experience through the system seems rather terrible and contained abuse. Would you consider being taken into foster care better or worse than being left with (either) of your parents?

beegilbz2 karma

You know, I couldn't tell you for sure. There was a lot of abuse in both situations. This sounds so messed up, but I could actually find a way to justify the abuse from my parents. Although it was shitty, it seemed more alright than having some stranger abuse me. Throughout the whole process I kept wishing that I was with my parents, even though they were going through a pretty awful divorce.

Chezzabe1 karma

I am guessing you think the system is broken. What would you think would be a better solution? I notice a lot of times taking in a foster kid is mostly for the money, and these people that need that money are not doing it for the right reasons or the kind of people that should be around kids.

beegilbz1 karma

I think the best solution is more difficult certification tests for foster parents. One of my foster parents had some pretty obvious psychological issues and at one point in time, tried to get me to convert to Scientology. It was a cult situation, very scary.

budguy680 karma

I've notice people who adopt foster kids do it to get more welfare money so naturally you have the worst type of people adopting kids for all the wrong reasons.

Really though the problem is government itself yet most people think that government is the solution.

michiganpickle2 karma

You could not be more wrong. My wife and I adopted because we did not want to bring more people into an over crowded world. Every dime that has come into the house from the government has gone into a special account. My son has close to $50K to pay for things the state does not during college and the rest will be used to put a down payment on a house when he is ready to settle down. Offering up this stereotype makes you look like an idiot. 3/5 house holds on our street have adopted children. Trust me when I say that none of us need any additional money. We adopted/fostered for the right reasons, because we want to help someone.

beegilbz1 karma

Good, I wish there were more people like you in the system. It's very hard to find people like you, and I wish I could have experienced something like this during my time in foster care.

Chezzabe1 karma

I wish there were more people like you out there. I hope myself to some day adopt. Just most of the time when I meet people that have gone though foster care it's nothing but a life of pain and misery. It's a hard problem to fix and I don't see any good solution. When you and you wife decided to adopt was it something you both really wanted or was one of you hesitant? I have been in the same relationship for 4 years and from the start I made it clear I preferred to adopt rather than have children. He seemed open minded but as time went on he seems to have changed. Believing that the relationship with the child could never be as strong if they were not your own blood. I have tried everything to change his mind but he seems pretty stuck on it now.

michiganpickle1 karma

We both felt we were too old to start a family. We were married at 40. We both wanted to raise a family and neither of us wanted to do the diaper thing. We were not hesitant. Nervous/scarred you bet. When we adopted our son he was 12. He is graduating in less than 90 days and it all went too fast. Our only regret was that we did not adopt some one a bit younger. Once we get him off to college and we take a vacation for the two of us we may do it again. As to your statement on Foster care, I think he was better off in a foster home that was in it for the $$ than the home with his biological mother. He was never abused. His bio mother just did not have the mental capacity to take care of him or his sisters. He has said on numerous occasions that he is much better off with us than any of the places he has been before arriving at our doorstep. My wife and I rode him like a rented mule on his grades and life choices. He has been accepted into all the colleges he applied for. We have a strong relationship. We do not have kids of our own so I cannot comment on if it would be stronger if they were blood.

To help your argument with your partner. Tell him that there are too many people in this world already. It is a pretty shitty place to be and why would he want to bring his kid into this world? I often joke with my wife that our son did not destroy her body. We did not have to go through that period that makes most parents start to look really old (crying babies). The last thing I would offer is by adopting an older person The state pays for their first two years of college and typically there is a stipend to help support them because they are stamped with a label called effective detachment disorder. The state pays us like $800/month because of this label. We put that in an account with his name on it to pay for things in college that are not covered in the tuition reimbursement. We did that so that he would know we were not in it for the money but to make a better person for this world. I might also offer you could move towards it by becoming a Big Sister. When he sees you happy and developing attachments in that relationship it could move his opinion to your side.

beegilbz1 karma

I'm glad you guys adopted an older child, because for teens and preteens it is the hardest in the foster care system. Nobody seems to want someone who has already had a past, most people seem to want cute toddlers and smaller kids. Really relieved to hear about people like you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. I know your son appreciates and loves you very much. Just wonderful.

TheHiveQueen1 karma

Congrats to you. Your a survivor. I was too. Now, at 40, I have worked at some of the most well known companies in the world, make a decent dime and generally live a nice life. Dont let the past hold you back. Aging out can be tough. One difference between me and some of the kids I went through the system with was a desire to live a hard life, to never let go of the pain and memories, to let the pain and memories be your definition. You are a new man(women?) And are onto something else. Go forward redefining yourself along the way. Oh, and maybe read Richard Bachs "illusions". Its inspiring for this journey.

beegilbz1 karma

Yes, a young woman. Hahaa, quite sure of that. I'll take you up on that recommendation fellow redditor. Always up for a good read. I don't plan on completely letting go of the past. It does define me in a way, and plays a fairly large role in my life. But I will not allow myself to make excuses surrounding my hardships.

tk421dr1 karma

As a former foster youth myself, I understand where you are coming from. Being placed in 37 different placements, constantly moving around makes for a awful childhood and having shitty foster parents who are only in it for the money makes it worse. The system if fucked, I could rant on and on for days about my life, the kids I grew up with who are in jail, porn, prostitution, on drugs etc. But instead I'll give you some advice. Find a goal and stick with it, the dentist idea sounds great! Take advantage of every opportunity you can for scholarships and aid. Its going to be tough, you have no parents to co-sign for you, so learn to save.

beegilbz1 karma

Thank you, that's my goal. (:

hips_likecinderella1 karma

Good for you for getting out and not having drug / alcohol issues and being in college. A friend of mine in high school grew up with an addict mother, and after staying at friends houses for months or living in motels with his mother CPS finally got involved and put him in foster care.

His foster mother was a real sweet woman. She only had him at her apartment, and was talking about getting him into a technical school after high school, all that stuff. Mother got out of jail, the courts let him decide if he wanted to stay in foster care or go with his mother. He picked his mom.

He dropped out of high school, never got his GED, never any other form of higher education. His mother died, and he stayed with her until the end, and after her death he was left with nothing, and he's been moving from place to place and who ever will let him stay with them sense. It breaks my heart.

Although your situation sounds crappy, it makes me so happy to see that someone pulled their life together after this, even if my friend couldn't.

beegilbz1 karma

Wow, yeah that sounds like a truly awful situation. It may be hard to understand at times, but parents are still parents, whether or not they are addicts or abusive. He sounds like he really loved his mom, even though it is very sad to hear about someone left with nothing. It's not easy to pull yourself together in a situation like that. I think I was at an advantage because school comes easily to me. For others, I can see how it could be incredibly easy to just give up and let it all go.

hips_likecinderella1 karma

It was bad for him, my family wanted to foster and adopt him, but he stopped going to class and caring about life, and got into the same drugs that brought down his mom, and my parents didn't want to bring that into their home.

beegilbz2 karma

That's rough, I know people like that. It really makes me sad, and makes me realize how far I've come considering my situation. I think it takes a certain type of person to withstand that type of thing. Drugs are really scary, and really detrimental who most who use them.

DropOfHope1 karma

Its refreshing to read your story. Despite the hardships you have been through you've stayed focused and made responsible decisions. I was a caseworker for a therapeutic foster care agency for 7 years (still in the field, working with children and families). You pointed out how overworked caseworkers are and its true. But the worst part is that so many of us want to do the right thing, and are dedicated and committed to making life easier for kids in largely hopeless situations. I wish there was more funding available, better oversight of programs, and more resources to provide to the kids who have literally nothing and no opportunities. I'm so glad to hear that you were able to move past your negative experiences enough to make your own progress. You are truly are an exception and I give you all the credit.

beegilbz1 karma

I've had similar conversations with many frustrated caseworkers. You guys are not paid enough for all the hard work you do. Caseworkers are drowning in kids they have to manage, paperwork, and crisis that no one person should have to manage. Throughout this whole experience I had 3 caseworkers and 2 amazing ones. These are the people that really help get you through. I know I've exchanged some pretty terrible words with them at times, out of frustration, and they didn't deserve that. It's difficult to be on either side of the system and I salute you for the work you are doing.

happy_freak1 karma

uhh could we have a little verification or proof? i mean i trust you and all, but being certain is always preferable

beegilbz1 karma

Sure, what could I provide you with? I'm not sure what you're asking, because there is not a certificate or anything that they give to foster children, but just let me know and I will do my best to provide.

alfa_reaper_grimm1 karma

Nice to see somebody pull through without being plagued with the usual problems, eg. drugs, or ending up as a low-life. Do you see yourself acting as an ideal, for all the other kids in the system, and what they can actually achieve, without succumbing to the pressures?

beegilbz1 karma

It is really, really, really hard not to self-medicate when you're in this situation. There was a point while I was in foster care where I was smoking a lot of weed. Just because it helped me forget about the shitty situation I was in. I began to see my grades slipping and stopped smoking and started dealing with my problems. I know a lot of kids who got into way worse stuff. (Heroin, coke, thizzles, lsd, mushrooms, you name it.) A lot of them became dealers because it was an easy source of income. There was no gang activity, but drug dealing was a big part of the system. I wouldn't consider myself a golden child or anything, but I do believe that most people could achieve what I have.

jmoney721 karma

My goal when I finish my degree and after I have gotten some agency experience under my belt, is to start a nonprofit for kids aging out of the foster care system, specializing in helping find employment, affordable housing that is safe, and secondary education. As someone who is now aged out of the system, would you have taken advantage of a program like this if it had existed? Are there other resources that you wish would have been available to you when you aged out?

beegilbz1 karma

I know in Oregon there is already a program like this. It's called the Independent Living Program (ILP) and it offers most of which you mentioned. I do fully take advantage of this program. It helps pay rent, find scholarships, jobs, and many other benefits for foster care. I recommend you check it out. It still has some flaws, pretty serious ones, so you should investigate.

bekastrange1 karma

I'm thinking of becoming a foster parent at some point in the future (far, far in the future, at the moment I can barely afford to feed myself let alone a kid). What advice would you give to someone thinking about fostering a child?

Also, congrats on being an 18 year old who can spell the word 'feat', that's unusual on its own ...

beegilbz1 karma

Why thank you, I happen to have gone to the state spelling bee in the 5th grade. Hahaha

TALK TO YOUR FOSTER KID. Be friendly, compassionate, and understanding. The best foster parent I ever had was probably the sweetest woman alive. Have regular dinners with them, structured schedules. Not too rigorous, but enough that you could pass for a normal functioning family. And make sure you really are ready. Foster care is intense, and if you aren't ready to handle someone who has gone through the system, don't go into it.

bekastrange1 karma

Thanks for that - it's not going to happen for at least a decade, no way I'll be responsible enough to look after a kid for a long time. I was talking to a foster parent a few days ago, she had a gorgeous little girl who she'd had for 3+ years, since she was 14 months, and there was no guarantee her birth mother (drugs, alcohol etc) couldn't get her back at almost any time. That idea scares the crap out of me, I can't even foster guide dog puppies knowing I'd have to give them back. For that reason (and cos they're harder to place) I'd probably foster teenagers. Sounds like you'd be the perfect kid to foster, do you have any horror stories about other kids?

beegilbz1 karma

I heard about a foster kid from my former foster mother who would hoard food. I guess his room(the same room I stayed in) had molding bread and other random bits of food hidden randomly around the room. It got so bad that they would not allow him food in his room. They also would have to require him to shower every day. A lot of these kids a pretty mentally unstable. I met a prostitute, only 17 when I met her. She had been addicted to coke since she was 13 and has a horrible story. I remember running into her old pimp with her, he was on the other side of the street and she ran into a store and wouldn't leave for an hour. The sad thing is, all these kids want is a normal life. I was an angel to my last foster parents, but I cannot say the same about the others I stayed with. It's not that I was rude, but I was often frustrated with my situation. It's really intimidating to be taken from your home and placed into a strangers. My best advice is just treat the kids you foster with the same respect you would a family member. And be wary because some kids might be too messed up to help.

That--Guy1 karma

You wouldn't happen to have red hair would you?

beegilbz1 karma

I have blonde hair. And I'm tiny, like 5'2, 110 pounds if that helps. With lots of freckles. hahhaa

thenicole841 karma

How do your friends in college react to your situation?

beegilbz2 karma

They are all very supportive and caring people. I try not to mention my situation to people I just meet, as it kinda freaks them out. But I've gotten nothing but support from my friends who know.

adelinenumber90 karma

as a former foster kid, I defintely think going to college is a great accomplishment even though I have encountered so many spoiled people who say otherwise. good for you!

beegilbz3 karma

Cheers to you! Yes, it's very hard to overcome many moves and difficult situations and still be able to get into college. And I'm very excited to be able to embrace that title of "former foster child." It's something that I have been so ashamed of.