Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Moving in with a new family

After the loss of a parent one may move in with guardians or be adopted. Its nice when you are adopted because that means that they actually want you to be in their family. They pay money to have you in their family. But moving in with guardians isn't as welcoming.

When my mom died my aunt and uncle took me in. I was not adopted because I would lose my scholarship if I were and also I don't think they could afford it. When you are adopted the family really wants you and treats you like a member of the family. But sometimes families become guardians just because they feel they have to.

Also I was 15 and I found it difficult to adjust. Most teens do. But as time went on I realized they didn't treat me like part of the family. Especially when I got older and went off to college. They would encourage their own kids to get married and they would ask how they are doing but they would never ask anything about my life. In HIgh school they wouldn't pick me up from school on time. I remember once they had to drive me to school and they didn't know which school I went to. They drove me to the wrong school. Then they suggested another one and it was still the wrong school.

I remember after I graduated from college and I had been working at a company for half a year, my uncle asked how classes were. My uncle even attended my college graduation and didn't even remember me graduating.

Here is my advice to orphans that have been put in new families. If things are going well, then good. Enjoy it. Be thankful. But if things are more like what has happened to me then here are some pointers.

1. Save money. Once you get your first job make sure to put some into a savings account. My Aunt and Uncle wanted me out of the house fast. Ironically they have a 40 year old son who is still living with them. So make sure to save up some money so you can get your own place just incase they throw you out.

2. Make some friends. Its always nice to have some roommates for when you get your own place and get away from the family that doesn't want you. I know when I was a teen I was very quite and I didn't have very many friends. College is what helped me. I guess that counts and moving away and getting my own place.

3. Keep your mouth shut. Their own kids can say what they want and not have to worry about losing their home. But if you say anything they don't like they will consider getting rid of you. I just stayed quite. I sat in my room and listened to music. I spent a little time online. Once I got a job and my car I went to concerts and made some friends. I know being quite and keeping to yourself and keep you from getting close to your relatives but I knew the ones that I were with weren't gonna change their minds about me.

4. Enjoy school.
I miss school so much. You can be yourself. Be with kids your own age. No guardians around. Like a little vacation from them. I loved lunch time and art class.

5. Think for yourself. I was put into a Christian home and they had some really messed up ways of thinking. I remember my aunt sat me down and told me that Its wrong for me to like boys and that I have to stop talking to them or I will go to hell. I once gave my phone number to a boy at youth group and when he called my aunt picked up the phone and told him to never call again. I blame her for ruining my young romance life. Once you get into college most of the good guys are married and the ones that are left are lazy druggies that play videos games all the time. I should have realized that of course its normal for me to talk to and like boys. One day you will really be on your own and you need to learn to think for yourself and make your own decisions.

6. Keep a journal. Remember how I said my aunt told me that I can't talk to boys anymore. Well she denies ever saying that. But I kept a journal and wrote it down when it happened. So I know it happened. How could I make that up? Also keeping a journal reminds you of how messed up your guardians are. The dumb things they do. How unfair they are to you. The hateful things they say.

A real family that cares will be supportive. They will understand you are going through a hard life. When you show them your artwork they won't say it looks like crap. My mom would NEVER have said that. A real family will continue to be supportive even after you turn 18 and move out. They would never say " I wish you were out of this house". Most of the time there isn't much we can do when we have crappy people taking care of us. Yes, they are feeding us and giving us shelter but is it too much to ask to be nice and understanding and not screw up our lives even more? Remember some kids have it even worse. Some are abused or neglected. And remember to try to enjoy life. I lived in the attic and some mice would visit every now and then.

If I could go back I would have done a lot differently. I would have pretended to be a lesbian. And have tons of pics of women in my room and cut my hair short. Then my aunt would tell me to hang out with boys rather than girls. And plus it would be fun to pretend to be a lesbian. I would also have gotten rid of things that I don't need. Just kept clothes and cds and the basic things. They way it would be easy for when I had to move out. I also couldn't make art back them because Christians only like paintings of Jesus and stuff. Those are the main things I would have changed if I could go back. Also save money. I actually did save quite a bit with my first job since I never went out and didn't have to pay rent. I have $2,000 saved up when I was about to go off to college. I hope this all helps. Any questions email me. I will also work on an article just for families who have just adopted or become guardian. I think this will help a lot. *hugs*

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I became an orphan at 16. My uncle became my guardian. Despite our families having been very close (spent holidays/vacations together) this did not turn out well.
I never lived with my guardian. Instead, my grandmothers would rotate spending a few months with me when they could & sometimes I would live on my own for a few weeks. My grandmothers were nice, but had their own lives in different cities & one did not drive. I was responsible for my parents’ home.

Here are a few additional tips.
1. Health insurance—I never even thought about this as a teen orphan. My guardian could add me to his insurance for a small fee paid by my mother’s estate, but did not—he said it was unlikely I would need it & it would be a waste of money (yet he insured his own kids). I am so lucky that I did not become seriously ill (e.g., cancer) or hurt (e.g., car accident) during this time. I would have been forever trying to pay off the medical bills & likely would have had to file bankruptcy.
2. Don't feel bad about accepting help. I felt guilty, but I accepted help. My friends were amazing—one grocery shopped, another helped me clear the driveway/sidewalk when it snowed etc. School advisers, my mother's friends, my friends’ parents helped me figure out college (e.g. visiting colleges, figuring out what colleges to apply to, completing applications), moved me into the dorms and sent me care packages.
3. Have a job & save money. Even if your parents left money behind, you may have to go through your guardian to access it. Having your own money will ensure you have access to money in case of an emergency or if you have to pay for something your guardian doesn't want to (school dances, gas for your car, etc).
4. Being on your own is expensive. When you rent your first apartment, they often want first month’s rent, last month’s rent & a security deposit upfront. Consider roommates (their parents may be willing to co-sign) , having enough saved to pay a larger deposit or subleasing from a person instead of renting directly from a landlord.
5. Think about what you want to do & what you need to accomplish your goals (e.g., attend training program/college, save money, get scholarships or loans for school). Also, think about where you will be going (e.g., college), how you will get there (your own car, a friend, a bus) & where you will live. Don't rely on being able to go back to your guardian's home. They may not invite you & even if they do, there may be places you would be more welcomed.
6. Keep your belongings limited to those things you really need or are very important to you. This makes it easier to be move around. Not having too many personal belongings makes moving around frequently much easier.
7. Have a good piece of luggage. I spent a lot of time staying at other people’s houses during the holidays/school breaks & it was helpful to have a clean looking & spacious bag that I could take with me as I traveled between these places.
8. If you are not from big city with a great public transportation system consider saving for & buying a reliable car. Parents often transport their kids &/or lend their kids the family car. This is not always the case with guardians. Having a car was vital for me, as I had to get to/from work/school, go grocery shopping, etc. I also bounced around a lot during school breaks & having a car allowed me to do this much more easily.
9. Don’t give up on having a family. Even if you are not adopted, you may find yourself becoming part of a family (e.g., friends of your parents, people you met at school or work), While it is not the same as having your “real family" back, it is nice to have a family of some type.
10. Find an outlet for your grief (e.g., someone to talk to, counseling, support group, journaling). Your guardian may not think this is important or have any idea what to do for you. If you aren’t getting help say something to someone (school advisor, parent of a friend) that can help you.