By Toby Shwerin
I was in foster care throughout my childhood. When I was 18 years old, I left my foster home to find my own way. Later that year, I was a busy college student balancing classes, plus a job, when I found out I was pregnant.
There were many times I felt discouraged and hopeless. I would put myself down and think that I was going to be just another statistic of kids in foster care that never accomplish their dreams.
But when my daughter was born, things began to fall into place. I married the love of my life and our family began to blossom. I told myself the last thing I wanted was for my daughter to be in foster care. I wanted to break the cycle and take the road less traveled.
Then finally, I built up the motivation in myself to never give up. I decided that whatever tried to become a barrier in my life, I would find a way around it. The words “I can’t” were removed from my vocabulary. I budgeted my spending and put necessities first. I left my one bedroom apartment to find a better place to live and raise my daughter, and I’m happy to say my life has never been so great!
Foster care actually showed me where I wanted my life to go – and where I didn’t. My mission in life is to be an independent, responsible and mature woman, as well as a role model for my daughter.
I put my family and my education first. I am going to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in kinesiology. I would like to work in
the foster care system to help teenagers who are in the same position I was in, and show them that there is hope after foster care. And just because you are in “the system,” doesn’t mean the system is in you.
Anyone can change and strive to be different than what other people may think of you. As long as you motivate yourself and set your standards high, everything will fall into place.
It wasn’t easy for me, that’s for sure, but in the end it will all be worth it.
Toby Schwerin joined BCFS Health and Human Services’ Preparation for Adult Living program when she was 16 years old. The organization helped Toby learn skills for life after foster care, like personal finance, healthy self-esteem and job readiness. BCFS also helped Toby connect to aftercare benefits like the Education and Training Voucher program, which helps youth from the foster care system pay for higher education and vocational training. Toby was served by the BCFS Health and Human Services center in McAllen, Texas.