I'm a former foster youth who spent over 9 years in state care. I went through many, many families. AMA!
My name is Dylan McIntosh. I'm an emancipated foster youth. I'm 21 years old, and currently living in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent 9 years in foster care, from 1997 to 2001, and 2006 to 2011. I aged out of care without ever being adopted.
My parents weren't good parents. Both were heavy drug users, and alcoholics. They probably shouldn't have had children, nor tried to take care of any. I was born 3 months premature, weighing in at 1 pound, 12 ounces. Long story short, I was a handful. I had physical and mental limits. Limits that my parents didn't understand. From an early age, I was used to being beaten, for no apparent reason. If I got a D on a math test, I'd get what my father called a 'tune up'. Where he'd beat me, until I understood. Once, for whatever reason, my father told me 'I'm going to hit you so hard, you won't be able to sit down tomorrow.' He beat me with a wooden sword. I went to school the next day, and told my teacher I wasn't allowed to sit down. I was 3 and a half years old. That was my first foray into foster care.
During that first stint, I lived with 3 different families. A short term placement that lasted a week. (I don't quite remember them). A placement with my aunt and uncle for 6 months. They were horrible to me. I was locked in the basement, most of my time there. The 3rd family was amazing. They loved me, and cared for me, as parents should. I never went hungry (although at times, I may have been picky). I was a normal child..for 3 years.
My parents fought in court, to get me back. That was the summer of 2001. Being a child, my only concern was to rejoin my family, because I was sure I loved them. I was also on the cusp of being put up for adoption. Unfortunately, my parents won me back in court. They took parenting courses, and proved to the local government of Cuyahoga County, that they were fit to be parents. They weren't.
From 7 years old, to 13 years old I lived with my parents. Times weren't good. My father still beat me, and berated me, and made my life quite awful. My mother, although not violent towards me, let it happen. She stood by his side. At 13, I went back into care. March 19th, 2006. I remember the day like it was yesterday.
From then on, I lived in a multitude of homes. From a seemingly normal family, to a bachelor lawyer, to an elderly couple who were in their early 70s. I got to see many different family dynamics. I got to experience how many other people lived. To this day, I use many of the skills I learned from living with so many different types of people.
At 18, I aged out. I was by myself.
Now, I've been able to do so many things. I wrote about my experience, for a non profit, Children's Rights, twice. the honor of being the keynote speaker at Children's Rights' annual charity benefit, in October of 2013, which helped raise over $500,000 for their efforts to reform child welfare. I met Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats, DMC, Rosie Perez, and many more. A wonderful opportunity, to be honest.
Now, I work for a distribution company, JAS Solutions. I was given this opportunity to better myself. We sell an oil absorbent, and it's super effective. It's my dream job. Eventually, I'd like to earn enough and start a non profit that helps foster children aging out of the system. An organization that provides support with all aspects of reaching adulthood, such as psychological, financial, housing, education, and many more. It's just a dream, so far. Maybe one day I'll accomplish it.
Here's all my proof. :)
the local news did two stories on me:
Here are both my blogs for Children's Rights:
To find out more about how you can help fight the good fight: Go to www.childrensrights.org
Disclaimer: I, in no way represent Children's Rights. They are their own entity. I just had the wonderful opportunity to work with them. They're good people. Please check them out.
To see the blogs of others, please go to www.fosteringthefuture.com
Also, please be gentle. There are certain things I'm not comfortable talking about. I'm new at this.
Thanks so much!
EDIT: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll be back in a bit, to answer more questions! I'm just utterly exhausted. Keep sending questions! I'll do my best to answer them all!!!
EDIT: This concludes the AMA! Thank you all for providing me the opportunity to answer your questions! Hopefully I've helped some people. You guys are great, and I couldn't feel more loved! Love and positive energy!