Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Personal Story of Healing from Sexual Abuse

June 19, 2024 Season 18 Episode 49
Personal Story of Healing from Sexual Abuse
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
More Info
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Personal Story of Healing from Sexual Abuse
Jun 19, 2024 Season 18 Episode 49

Click here to send us a topic idea or question for Weekend Wisdom.

Join this inspiring discussion with two former foster youths who talk about their time in foster care and how that experience shaped them. Lanitta was a pregnant and parenting teen growing up in the North Carolina foster care system. In May of 2022, she joined the 2% population of former foster youth that graduate from post-secondary education with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance. Mayia Warren was in foster care and later adopted by her grandmother. She has multiple invisible disabilities, albinism, and is visually impaired. In the spring of 2021, Mayia graduated with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology. She is an advocate in multiple fields such as: disability, foster care, children and families, and wellness. She is also an independent recording artist, poet, author and philanthropist.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Synopsis of your life story.
  • What were the hardest parts of being in foster care?
  • What were the better parts, if there were any?
  • What would you want foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to know about how it feels to be in foster care?
  • What have been the long-term impacts of sexual abuse?
  • What helped you heal from the sexual abuse if you consider yourself healed?
  • What would you want foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to know about how to help a child or youth heal from sexual abuse? What can these safe adults do to help?
  • You have both “succeeded” despite many obstacles. What do you contribute your success to?

Snippet of Mayia’s new album: 

Support the Show.

Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Show Notes Transcript

Click here to send us a topic idea or question for Weekend Wisdom.

Join this inspiring discussion with two former foster youths who talk about their time in foster care and how that experience shaped them. Lanitta was a pregnant and parenting teen growing up in the North Carolina foster care system. In May of 2022, she joined the 2% population of former foster youth that graduate from post-secondary education with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance. Mayia Warren was in foster care and later adopted by her grandmother. She has multiple invisible disabilities, albinism, and is visually impaired. In the spring of 2021, Mayia graduated with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology. She is an advocate in multiple fields such as: disability, foster care, children and families, and wellness. She is also an independent recording artist, poet, author and philanthropist.

In this episode, we cover:

  • Synopsis of your life story.
  • What were the hardest parts of being in foster care?
  • What were the better parts, if there were any?
  • What would you want foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to know about how it feels to be in foster care?
  • What have been the long-term impacts of sexual abuse?
  • What helped you heal from the sexual abuse if you consider yourself healed?
  • What would you want foster, adoptive, and kinship parents to know about how to help a child or youth heal from sexual abuse? What can these safe adults do to help?
  • You have both “succeeded” despite many obstacles. What do you contribute your success to?

Snippet of Mayia’s new album: 

Support the Show.

Please leave us a rating or review. This podcast is produced by We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them.

Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:

Please pardon any errors, this is an automated transcript.
Dawn Davenport  0:00  
This is creating a family talk about foster adoptive and kinship care. I want to say welcome back to our regulars. We truly appreciate you. And I also want to do a special shout out. Welcome to our newbies. Thank you for joining us and we hope you find value here. I'm Don Davenport. I am the host of this show as well as the director of a nonprofit creating a Today we're going to be talking with two former foster youth when we're going to hear their stories of healing, sexual abuse, trauma and foster care. Our guest today are lineata Berry, she was a pregnant and parenting teen growing up and the North Carolina foster care system. In May of 2020, she joined the 2% population of former foster youth that graduate from post secondary education. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Finance. She has always had a passion for changing the system, which allows her the unique opportunity to collaborate with stakeholders on all three levels of government as well as being part of many grassroot organizations movements in the nonprofit spaces. We also have Maya Warren, Maya entered DSS that's Department of Social Services custody and foster care in December 2010. She was later adopted and raised by her grandmother, yet still navigate and is navigating a myriad of challenges that come with childhood trauma. She has multiple invisible disabilities albinism and is visually impaired in the spring of 2021. My also graduated, and she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. Today my in an advocate in multiple fields such as disability, foster care, children, and families and wellness. She is also an independent recording artists, poet, author, and philanthropist who has dedicated her life to creative and impactful service. And she has an album dropping, and at the end, make sure you stay to the end because I'm going to play a snippet from Maya's album just to give you a taste. All right, so welcome, Maya en la Anita to this podcast, the creating a family podcast, we really believe that we as foster adoptive and kinship parents need to learn from people like you, because you are the ones that we are attempting to serve. Not you now, because you're out of the system and grown up, but those who follow you, and you are the ones who can teach us best the people who have the lived experience, I think it would help if we start if you could give us maybe cliffnotes version, the synopsis of your life story that's daunting for anybody to do. But in particular, as it relates to how you enter care why you entered care, your experience in care, that type of stuff. So Maya, let's start with you. Tell us all about your life. Okay.

Speaker 1  3:01  
Yeah, I'm gonna try to summarize it as best as I can. I was born in 1997, and born with most of my disabilities, and unfortunately, I did not necessarily have the best home life as a result, you know, my parents, and so they were both physically and psychologically abusive. And the irony of it for those who can't see, because of the audio is I have a condition called it Loki taneous albinism, which means I'm a black female with no pigmentation in my eyes, hair and skin. And that's where my vision impairment comes from. And one of my earliest memories in elementary school, my parents showed up to pick me up. And one of the girls in my class was like, she looked at me, and she looked at my parents who had more melanin than I did. And she was like, Are you adopted? And I was like, No, I'm not adopted. So put a pin in that, to continue to experience a lot of things that I navigated. In 2010, my biological mom passed away from brain cancer, that originally started out as breast cancer that she went into remission. And then all of a sudden, she ended up in stage four brain cancer, and it was pretty much downhill very rapidly from there. And so from that point on, you know, we navigated hospice care until she passed and then after she passed, my biological father kind of continued to spiral mentally, which resulted in me being sexually abused, not just once, but on multiple occasions between almost her funeral date to be exact, until December of 2010. And the interesting thing about my story is because he he kind of fell into almost like this psychosis where he believed that people were tracking him. So he felt very suspicious of his surroundings. So will we be traveling and kind of very nomadic for a while, and we ended up in I think it's Huntsville, North Carolina's for some reason. I And we were in the hotel. And he just got finished abusing me. And then the next morning, he woke up and he was like, I think I need to call the police on myself. And so he called the police on himself and the police officers came to the hotel where we were staying. And they were questioning him. And then another officer was questioning myself and my younger brother. And they asked, Hey, do you know the phone number have any relatives or anybody that you can reach out to to come get you guys And mind you, they weren't aware of how we were being abused. They just know this person called the police on himself. And he had kids with him. So I remembered my grandmother's phone number. And I gave it to them. And then within a couple of hours, her and my aunt showed up. From that point on, that's like when I ended up in Department of Social Services, custody. And then, within a matter of a couple of months, like my body started feeling really off and weird. Like I was tired all the time. But I was having like my annual checkup in like January of 2011. And my pediatrician, notice that there were some physical attributes that I was exhibiting that was aligned with pregnancy. So she calls them my grandmother. And like, she shows whatever she showed to my grandmother to my grandmother and my grandmother just start bawling.

Dawn Davenport  6:22  
How old were you then my,

Speaker 1  6:24  
I had just turned 13 As of December 2010. So the pediatrician, I just remember her, like, I didn't even know doctors at this time had like their own office, but She assures me and my grandmother to the office, and she's like, I need you to understand the seriousness of the questions that I'm about to ask you. And so she's asking me different questions about details. And to the best of my ability, I answered them. And then from that point on visitation with my father was cancelled. At that point, there was a whole chain of events where a lot of decisions were made in such a swift period of time. And then next thing I know, I was being whisked away to Atlanta, Georgia to have an abortion. And for me, I think that's a period of time where I kind of blacked out almost because I'm a minor, in a lot of decisions were being made on my behalf, in my best interests, but there wasn't a lot of say so or wherewithal on my end, so I'm just experiencing all of this. And as you can imagine, like seeing the looks on adults faces in response to having to do with something so traumatic with a 13 year old girl. And so after the procedure had taken place, it was pretty much around six slash seventh grade, and I kind of got, there's a whole train advanced around that period of time. And eventually, that went three years. So period, and I finally the adoption process went through with my grandmother, we were able to get our names change. And that's pretty much the extent of how I ended up in there, and how I got adopted, and some of the brief pitfalls with it. Okay,

Dawn Davenport  8:06  
and we'll go into more details later. Thank you. lineata. Can you share a synopsis as well, of how you came into foster care, and in your experience, after you were in?

Speaker 2  8:19  
Yeah, I will try to sum things up. I guess, before I went into foster care, I will say I had a somewhat normal life. I mean, I grew up in a two parent home. And at that time, I knew that was something to be grateful of, because a lot of my peers, a lot of my friends, they didn't grow up in two parent homes. And I remember just being a kid and knowing the importance and the great family aspects of having the Sunday dinner, having a home cooked meal that was prepared by your parents and all that great stuff. I had siblings. Many of my siblings are quite older than me. I am technically the only child between my father and my mother. But I do have other siblings from my parents. Yeah, life was normal, but maybe around the age of nine. That's when I started to notice some notable changes. My mom started getting sick a lot. And we found out that she had urine fibroid cancer, and it was in the fourth stage. So my I just want to say I really truly empathize with you. Because in 2010, my mom passed away. She actually passed away literally a month after my birthday. Wow, she passed away in May. How old were you? I turned 10. I turned 10 in April and in May she passed away. That was very traumatic for me, as well as a little bit before her passing my brother, were in to the foster care system. And at the time, being a little child, I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes, I knew that, at that time, my dad was disabled. And there was just a lot that we needed to do as a family to make sure that my mother was comfortable. Like, I remember us getting rid of all of our furniture just to accommodate her hospital bed, all of the machines that she needed, which my dad did some things, but it was my brother, too, it took a toll on my brother. And eventually, he tried to commit suicide. And I was the person who found him, I found him. And later after that, we found out that he tried to overdose on my mother's morphine. And that led to him being in foster care. But in 2010, my mother passed away. And by that time, my brother was out. He was in foster care. So it was just my dad at nine. And that's when I started to really get a more understanding of why my life ended up the way it was, why I started it, circumstances happen, because now I started getting abused, I started experiencing the verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the neglect, and it was definitely a lot. So from the ages of 10 to 12, I endured a lot. And there was so many things that I had to really truly deal with. I had to deal with the fact that I literally had a great family and my eyes, and it shrunk down to only two people in the home, I had to deal with the fact that I don't know whether or not I deserve this punishment. It was just a lot. And part of my trauma that I had to really battle with is remembering the words that my dad said when my mom passed away, and that it was my fault. Oh, no. And the reason why he said that is because my mom, she passed away from uterine fibroid cancer. And that came from when she got pregnant with me, she actually had the IUD in her, which I'll mentioned this because this actually impacts me later on in life. She had the IUD in her as well as she was older. So the doctors literally said before my parents got married, Miss Barry, you're not, you're not getting pregnant again, like you're too old, like it's okay. So she ended up getting uterine fibroids, she had me, the doctors, I believe at the time, found them. And I think they did something to make sure that it wouldn't be an issue. But 10 years down the line, it became an issue, it became cancerous. And my dad blamed that on me. So yeah, I had to emotionally cope with so many things. And before I actually went into care, I got pregnant with my daughter. And there was a lot of things I did as a child. But one thing I do remember the things that I did do in a way, it was like a cry for help. It felt like I was in a bubble. And I didn't know if I needed to stay put or if I needed to let the bubble bus

Dawn Davenport  14:06  
lineata Let me ask you a question. Was your pregnancy the result of abuse? Or was it not? No, it

Speaker 2  14:13  
wasn't the result of abuse. And I'm truly grateful for that. But just even when I did get pregnant at that time, I was 12. And one of the reasons why I had to go into care is because none of my local doctors offices would take me. They said we don't have liability, like we just simply cannot take you know, I think oftentimes that doesn't get talked about when we talk about advocacy and systems change efforts about how yes, there could be abuse. Yes, there's sometimes neglect and many different other reasons. But also, there are times where our local communities are unable to support youth and that's a reason why It kind of reinforces them going into care in the first place. And for me, that definitely was the case. And I had to transition into a kinship care setting. Then eventually I went into foster care. My very first placement was freaking 10 of North Carolina. And cretin has a great legacy. It's a nonprofit organization that allows pregnant and parenting, well, they have three different programs, let's just say there's the maternity program, if you are a burning person who needs shelter, needs food, you can go into the program, and you are able to stay up until you have your baby. Then there's the legacy program, it's specific for if you are in foster care, and you're in the transitional age range of 18 to 21, you can be a part of that program until you aged out of the program. And the last program is the saris house program that is specific for young people who had their babies. They're in foster care. And I believe that age, our age is 21 as well. So I was able to go into maternity. And I did transition from that placement from that congregate care placement to a foster home. But I think we can talk more about that as we proceed on. Yeah, that's a snippet. That's

Dawn Davenport  16:35  
a snippet. So when you transitioned into a foster home, you had your Is it your daughter? Yes.

Speaker 2  16:43  
And I do want to talk about that experience, too, because that's another thing that we don't really talk about, what is that when a young person gives birth, when they're in child welfare when they're in foster care. So I had my baby. I'm very interesting. I live in Charlotte, I'm from Charlotte, I had my baby during the winter storm of 2014. So after I had my child, you know, you give birth, typically, you stay a few days, I was induced, so the doctors were paying the extra eye on me making sure that I'm okay. My child was okay. But right when I was getting ready to leave the hospital, I was denied. me taking my child with me. Why?

Dawn Davenport  17:35  
Because of your age,

Speaker 2  17:37  
it wasn't just because of my age. It was because and I didn't find out this, then I actually found out about this later on why this happens. It's actually a common practice. North Carolina is not the only place that does it. It's very common throughout the United States. But oftentimes, when a young person gives birth, there has to be some legality paperwork drawn up to figure out who has custody of the baby, right? Especially if the young person is in care. Oftentimes, if you're just a normal person, you're not in foster care, it's very easy to understand who has legal custody of the child, right? But because I was in foster care, legality speaking, we need to know who is going to make sure that this baby's okay, I was a young person. So clearly I didn't have custody. And the reason why I had to be separated from my child is because of that. So paperwork was drawn up. And I remember it was hours and hours. And like I said, it was during a winter storm, as well as I was breastfeeding too. So now, I don't necessarily say I have separation anxiety. But I'm coping with all of that. Because all of that hit me as a 12 year old child. And it was definitely a lot on me.

Dawn Davenport  19:05  
Sure. Eventually, when you left the hospital, where you placed with your daughter into a foster home, that was taking care of both of you, because you were still a child as well. Absolutely.

Speaker 2  19:17  
So at that time, it was February, and we stayed at Crete and tin up until I want to say May of 2014. And from then on, we went into our very first therapeutic foster home, which was amazing. For many reasons. I really felt like I had a sense of belonging in that home. My foster mom, we were both learning from each other together. It was my first foster home. I was her first young person as well as my child was with me. So we were really learning together and She taught me so many things. She allowed me to really kind of see life after foster care, even though I was still in it, like I was able to do a lot of things that made me feel normal, that made my situation feel normal. Which if you are a young person experiencing that, that in itself can weigh on you.

Dawn Davenport  20:24  
Can you give us some specific examples of what you mean by she was able to allow you to feel normal or have a normal adolescence? Absolutely.

Speaker 2  20:35  
So one of the things that she would definitely exposed me to something that I was actually used to at one point in time, that was the family dinners, like there were family trips, family, vacations, all that great stuff, as well as traveling, I really felt like I was just sheltered when I was with my dad. But being with her, she, you know, showed me so many great places. Oftentimes, we would talk about what I wanted to do in the future. And I will tell her my plans. And one of the things that I said that I was really passionate in, which eventually did change was accounting. So when I was in high school, like for the summers and stuff like that, I would go to accounting camps. If ever I needed anything for my education, all I had to do was act like it was a lot of stuff, even if I wanted to, like hang out with friends, if I communicated that there were opportunities to do that.

Dawn Davenport  21:44  
And I would assume that she allowed you to parent your daughter, but she supported you and helped you, which would also allow you to experience or at least some of the opportunities of adolescence. Is that correct? Me she helped you, but the parents even allowed you to parent?

Speaker 2  21:57  
Yes. So I will say how the system also acknowledges a parenting pregnant situation. Have you have the parent that's actually still a child? And do you have a child?

Dawn Davenport  22:11  
Right, right?

Speaker 2  22:12  
It's complicated. Yeah, it's definitely complicated. And oftentimes, they group them up in what is called like a sibling pair, right? Which is very interesting. And even though I was able to still parent and things of that nature, at times, it was difficult. It just was, especially as I got older, as I transitioned out of the system, and I had to be recognized as a birth parents fighting to get my child back, it was just a lot. And, again, I keep on saying this, we don't talk about this enough. But truly, we really do not have conversations on how impactful just fighting to get your child back. Especially when you're working with the same people, you were just considered as a young person. And now you're fighting to get your child back. We don't have these conversations enough. And just that situation alone. It was very emotional. I had to prove consistently. And I get that I understand that, right. But there were times where it felt very political. And I'm not saying that my foster mom, like I was having issues with her. She was great, right? But it's just the system, the system will literally put you in uncomfortable situations. And now looking back on it, I felt like at times that was very unnecessary, that

Dawn Davenport  23:51  
they were against you. My I want to come back to you. lenita has just shared some of the good parts of what she experienced in her foster home. You went, I think immediately into kinship care, but your grandmother became a foster parent to you. from your standpoint, as a child being raised in a kinship environment. What were some of the better parts of having been taken in by kin versus a non kin foster home? And then if you could contrast that with some of the challenges? Yeah,

Speaker 1  24:25  
so I think I had the benefit. One, I've always had an affinity for people who were older than me. I relate very well to people who are like most of my friends are decades older than me. And I think being raised by someone who's had a lot of life experience, you kind of almost become tethered to other things that maybe other people in your age group aren't aware of like I grew up on cassette tapes and VHS and collection of VHS and things like that. So I'm very much Oh, Old Soul. So that's one of the benefits and, and my great grandmother still alive who was my grandmother's mother so like, I have the benefit of experientially being around people who have more life experience than me. In contrast, though, you're not really on either side, like the grandparent and the child, neither one of you are prepared for the duality that that situation places on you. What

Dawn Davenport  25:29  
do you mean by that? The duality? Yeah,

Speaker 1  25:31  
so you go from where you were just the grandparent who could pop in, you know, when need be, do whatever you need to do, and then go back to your home and you you didn't have to step in that parenting role, then you transition to having to be a grandparent, and a parent. And those two things often kind of coincide. And I think a lot of the stuff, looking back that I see in my family line is generational trauma. So when you have someone who has a heart for children, but they haven't processed a lot of their own things, it can cause a lot of issues in how you internalize that as a child. So you start taking on that the way that they cope with their own stresses their inability to regulate their emotions, and things like that. So in many ways, though, it was. I think, by design, and me being able to say my grandmother, fortunately, a lot of the trauma I experienced previously was kind of further perpetuated. And even though I unpacked my own story, it's kind of like, you kind of have to have a perspective of navigating the truth, right, which the truth in my life story comes with joy and sorrow coexisting. So wow, I'm glad it was a kinship placement. I still dealt with a lot of things emotionally that my grandmother necessarily wasn't prepared to handle, none of us were prepared to handle it. And they you tack that on to feeling unsupported as a foster parents, and the stresses that come with that, because she herself was on fixed income, and Nevermind the dynamic of my brother and I, because he's younger than me. So I pretty much raised them for most of our lives until we came into DSS custody and kinship placement. So there was a lot of dynamics that it took me years to unlearn one that I didn't have to be my brother's parent anymore. It took me a lot of dynamics to be able to dissociate. Oh, my grandmother is responding this way. Not necessarily, because of me. But it feels like it's because of me. And I'm taking this personally and then understanding like, why am I thinking that personally, and I was in therapy for over 10 years, like, actually, my last therapy session was last year, probably

Dawn Davenport  27:50  
why you are as put together as you are, because it sounds like you've processed a lot of it, or in the process of processing it.

Speaker 1  27:58  
The irony, though, is I did most of my processing through my faith, because my faith in Jesus Christ is what really has kept me tethered insane. And even when I look at my own story, and like, there's no real logical reason why I should be able to articulate what I'm articulating, after all that I have been through. And so there opee kind of served as a reservoir for all the conversations that I was having with God that I wasn't able to have with family, and the amalgamation of that I was able to process that. But at some point, looking back now I realized therapy served as a placeholder for the community and support system that I did not have. And now that I have that, that support system and growing community, I don't necessarily need therapy anymore. And that's just my story. Because I recognize, like the things that I needed someone to listen, and even someone wants to hear me, I needed someone to provide insight, accountability, like all those things that a lot of people go to therapy for, like a lot of us are just lonely. And a lot of people aren't equipped to necessarily be a friend, or be someone who can be that involved. And so I think in many ways community in this stage of my life has really kind of helped further round things out.

Dawn Davenport  29:12  
It was therapy provided through the Child Welfare Department, because you were in foster care.

Speaker 1  29:19  
Yeah, so So I started out with one therapist, and I don't even remember this person's name. I just remember, they needed to get footage in this therapy session for the court hearing. So there was like a camera set up in front of me and there was like a large TV like the right of me, and they were like, now we know this is gonna be hard, but we need you to like provide details about what you experienced and all that. So as you can imagine, that was like reliving it 100 times though, where plus the nightmares plus

Dawn Davenport  29:45  
being in front of a camera, plus being 13 years old. Yeah, it

Speaker 1  29:49  
was a lot. So I'm recounting this stuff. And I think between the chemistry of that moment, they figured out this therapist probably isn't the best one for her. And so Oh, I remembered a therapist that my brother was going to back when we were with our parents for ADHD. And for some reason, I remembered her name. And that ended up being the therapist that I was with for a while. But even in that, like I think it started out as being covered by the welfare system. And then I started getting SSI, because I was denied SSDI multiple times because I hadn't been paid into the system, and with SSI and having survivor benefits, which is how I was able to get SSI that came with the Medicare and the Medicaid, because I also am disabled.

Dawn Davenport  30:40  
Can you define SSI and SSDI? For the audience? Yeah,

Speaker 1  30:43  
so social security income versus social security disability income, right. And the main difference between the two is like, you have to have a certain amount of work experience having paid into the system over a period of time in terms of employment to receive Social Security Disability income, and no one told me why I received benefits. It wasn't until the last year I had to do some digging to get clarity. Because when you don't have clarity about why you're getting what you're getting, you also don't have clarity about the lines, or the boundaries, that if you crossed those, you lose your benefits, which creates a lot of fear and uncertainty. Dealing with what you're dealing with.

Dawn Davenport  31:26  
It's real. If you don't know why you're getting what you're getting, you also don't know what else may be available that could help. I am loving this interview. I am learning a lot from this interview. So I do hate to interrupt, but I want to ask a favor of you. If you were listening to this podcast, and especially this one, and hopefully you're enjoying it as much as me, do us a favor. And please tell a friend about the creating a podcast. That is how people find out about podcasts, especially if you don't have the major bucks to advertise on other podcasts, which is extremely expensive. We're a nonprofit, we don't have the money to throw at advertising in that way. So we have to depend on people like you who are listening and enjoying. So please spread the word. Tell your family, tell your friends tell anyone in the foster adoptive or kinship community about this podcast. And thank you. And now back to this great interview. All right, Lenny, to coming back to you, you shared some of the better parts of when you were placed in foster care. It was normal. I'm using air quotes here experiences and a more typical adolescence, were you in the same foster home from age 12 to whenever you decided to transition out. So

Speaker 2  32:45  
placements are definitely a interesting point of conversation for sure. So I'm just going to make it as simple as possible. So I entered in the care. My very first placement was Christensen of North Carolina. I then went to my first foster home. And by the way, I should say my whole journey of care. I am grateful to say my daughter and I, we were always together, we were never separated, which is a blessing. It's a tremendous blessing. Huge blessing. So first placement is Christensen. Second placement is my first foster mom. And I stayed from 2014 to 2016. So two years and some change. And the reason why I had to leave is because she was getting married. And her husband, there's this process that the licensures do to vet people to see if a young person or their child can stay in that home. And it takes longer if the person has been a foster parent before in a different state. So that's why we were displaced. We had to leave. And I went to a second foster home with my second

Dawn Davenport  34:15  
foster mom, when you were about 14 at the time. I was 16.

Speaker 2  34:18  
I was 16 at the time, okay, and I stayed for nine months. It wasn't the best. I ended up staying at the same school. And my new foster poem at the time was literally on the complete opposite side of the city. So it just wasn't the best for me, as well as there was some difficulties of like, really, truly getting along. And just meshing well. So after all the vetting was done, the process was done. I ended up going back to my first foster Mom. And I stayed until, I believe a month after I graduated high school. And this was in 2018. And this is funny to say, this is funny to say, because the last placement that I was in, was Christensen. I literally, it was in full circle. Yeah, it was a full circle. And when I went back to cretin, I was able to start college, I went to UNC Charlotte, I was able to get my first car, I was able to move into my apartment. And I am proud to say, in April of 2019, I was also able to get custody of my daughter. So a lot of stuff happen, especially in the timeframe of 2018. When I graduated high school to April 2019. It was a lot. It

Dawn Davenport  36:02  
sounds like so what were some of the harder parts of being in foster care. lineata, as my head said, contrasting some of the joy and some of the good things. What was hard for you? Oh,

Speaker 2  36:16  
absolutely. And I just want to say, Maya, thank you so much for articulating that. Because it's the truth. I mean, there were great things. But there were also some things that I'm still trying to process, I think what we oftentimes fail to realize, when a youth is removed and placed in the care how the system is, it almost feels as though it's the youths fault that they were removed. Interesting. And it's not fair. It's not fair. As well as you have adults that make decisions. And sometimes you have adults that are really truly caring, they empathize with you. And then you have other adults that are like their child, they don't know what they want. And it's like, I really wish we can see each other's humanity, no matter what, it doesn't matter. If you are a five year old, a 50 year old or a 25 year old, I think it's really important to see each other's humanity. As well as there was a lot of times where I felt like I was misunderstood. Even just being amongst my peers. And when I talk about peers, I'm specifically thinking of people who will also experience care. Whenever I was like, in community with them, I knew that I felt different just amongst them as well. Because I am a parent, I gave birth in the system. And eventually I knew I had to fight with the system to get my child back. So like I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of times where I had to really, truly prove myself in ways that I felt like was unnecessary, especially when before I aged out. I'm grateful to say that there was a team, I did have a team. My daughter has a team, you know the famous saying it takes a village. Well, we had a huge team, that I will say the ultimate goal was okay, let's make sure that law, Anita and her child have everything that they need. So when lineata gets older, it's a smooth transition. One of the things that a young person they're supposed to get is a transition living plan. And oftentimes, the transition living plan, the social worker, or the Independent Living worker will work with the young person when they're 17, three months before they age out. But my Lynx worker was so good. We worked on it when I was 16. Because you know, anything can really happen. And on top of that, when you are a young person and you have a child, it's harder. Okay, yes. nificantly harder. So when I was 16, I already knew that I was going to college, I already knew what I was going to study, I already knew the different pathways of if I ever I needed assistance. I already knew what I was wanting to do, right. But yeah, it was just there were so many nights that as a young person, I was having an existential crisis, like how I'm going to pay for this, how I'm going to make sure that both me and my child is good. It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. And at times, I just didn't get empathy. At times. I felt so so so misunderstood. But when I aged out, I will say that I was just really Determine. I'm glad that even during that time of me being in care, I started doing advocacy. Back in 2014, I started advocating with this organization called say soy, which stands for strong it will you speaking out, it was an organization back then, right now, it's a program under Children's Home Society. And I was able to really share my story and help inspire so many others to share their story as well as uplift the importance of young people the importance of youth voice, which I am honestly proud of.

Dawn Davenport  40:37  
Let me pause for a moment to ask, did you know that we are now doing a nother podcast called weekend wisdom? This is a long form. We're interviewing these two wonderful women for an hour, but the weekend wisdom podcast is different. We have you submit your questions. And then in five to 10 minutes, usually more like five minutes, we try to answer the question. So send us your questions, you can send them to info at creating a Send them and we will do our best to answer them. And thank you. I'd like now to shift to a common experience. Well, actually, this is more for Maya, because you experienced sexual abuse. What were some of the long term impacts that you've experienced from having been abused? In your case? It was by your father?

Speaker 1  41:28  
Yeah, La Nina did a good job highlighting that sometimes you can feel different amongst other young people who were in care. Sure. And for you, and Anita, it was because of the whole parenting dynamic for me, it was because of not only the sexual abuse dynamic, not only because of the disability dynamic, but because it happened from my father. And there's a special level of shame. That comes from being sexually abused by a parent that people don't talk about. Because, and I just did a video for like my album series talking about, we often give more grace to people when they're like, you know, I got daddy issues, but my mom was the best. Very rarely do people tell the truth about both aspects. I had both it was different with my father was sexual abuse, neglect, physical abuse cycle out my mom, it was the neglect physical like all that. So it was very hard. Like it wasn't until the last few years where I started talking about this foster care period. Because for me being in foster care meant that I felt weak. And then I got to talk about how I ended up in foster care. And then I got to talk about some of the other details, because if I leave out certain details, then the story falls apart. So like it was like this domino effect of why if I opened up this Pandora's Box, am I going to be able to hold it together. And that's a heavy weight to carry that I didn't start letting go up until fairly recently. And the thing that helped me let go, of course, you know, talking about my faith, talked about community, but I became an advocate for albinism, like in middle school. And at the time, I was still undergoing the kinship care. I hated people, I hated myself, I was no respecter of persons in that regard. And for some reason, God used my indignation for wanting people to understand what comes with having albinism to get me into spoken word, and public speaking and advocacy. And then as my other invisible disabilities develop that carried over with chronic migraine disease, hypermobility spectrum disorder, which is the cause of Ehlers Danlos, my vision impairment. So as I'm opening up more and getting comfortable, there comes the call to expand and open up more, right. So to be a young adult now, getting that call yet again. But this time, to withhold like that one last piece, one of the very last pieces of my story that has been hidden from the world, and that is my foster care journey. It's an interesting thing. And the thing that motivates me to do it is because I recognize it's not just about me, but I would be lying if I told you that it was easy. I'd be lying if I said that. There's still levels like thank God, I, you know, from a PTSD perspective, I don't have the nightmares that I used to have the night flips that I used to have anxiety that he stabbed because of it, but there's still a level of like, Oh, if I tell somebody that I was sexually abused, how are they going to view me and I've gotten to a place in other areas where I don't necessarily care how people view me, but that is such a, it puts you in such a vulnerable position like it was years before. I felt safe enough to hug men. It was years before I felt safe enough Were I wasn't on guard around men. It was years before, like, I could just allow myself to be embraced. You know. And I think the other aspect of social abuse people don't think about is, you become overly aware that if I share this aspect of my life story, are people going to identify me by that? Or are they going to identify me by who I actually am. And I imagine foster care, even if sexual abuse isn't involved. There's still a level I don't think people are aware that you carry around this awareness that if I share, if I'm honest, if I am vulnerable, if I'm authentic, are people going to identify me? By what I've been through? Are people going to identify me by my scars, because on one hand, if you're authentic, which I've just learned to over time, thankfully, I have awesome mentors and whatnot, to be authentic, regardless of what people think. But when you're in care, or you're fresh out of care, like that's all that's on your brain, especially like you go to doctor's appointments. Like it took me a couple years before I could be fully honest with physicians, when they asked if I've ever had any procedures. And outside of the abortion procedure, like No, I haven't had any procedures. My first gynecologist visit that I established a couple years ago, I had to mentally go into the appointment, like I'm going to have to mention the fact that I had an abortion I was sexually abused, because that's going to impact our ability to care for me appropriately. And that's conversations that people don't anticipate you having to walk through, even as it relates to other areas of life. Because, you know, I tell people, because I'm a mentor, and I do public speaking and all that. And I tell people like it's a journey, right? It's a journey of navigating your life story. And you can get comfortable in one area. Like for me, I got comfortable talking about albinism and chronic migraine disease and disability. And you don't know what your triggers are sometimes until you run into them. So like you might be comfortable as a young person with a disability or navigating foster care, but then you got to be an adult. How does that impact you?

Dawn Davenport  47:09  
Yeah. And how does it change how you navigate as

Speaker 1  47:11  
it change across your lifespan, I don't necessarily think those conversations are had, because it really does impact sexual abuse impacts how you see yourself, it impacts how you see the people around you, it impacts your ability to connect your existence to a greater good for me, that's, you know, my faith in Christ. But like, it impacts your ability to even look into the future. I told someone the other day I said, I'm just now getting to the point where in my mind, I have a future. Because I was so stuck in survival, that it literally like me being 26 years old, and doing what I do, like the little me would have never seen that coming because she was too busy trying to survive. You

Dawn Davenport  47:54  
know, my one of the things that it's really become a passion of mine, because it's just so it's so wrong on so many levels in that is that foster parents, and kinship providers as well. But we see it more with foster parents are often hesitant to take in a child that has experienced sexual abuse. And it's because they are afraid, they are afraid that this child will act out sexually on other children, they're afraid that this child will not heal, that this child is going to have too many issues for them to deal with. And in many ways we're re victimizing these kids. It's like the scarlet letter A, we're doing it over and over. And foster parents have a fear. And I try to appreciate and come from that and know that they have this fear. But what would you say to foster parents who are considering a placement are considering whether to check the box to say for adoption or fostering whether they think that they would be the best home for a child who has been sexually abused? What would you say to them?

Speaker 1  48:59  
Yeah, I just had a conversation earlier this morning. And we were talking about a lot of the things that we think of here actually inform the lens through with we see life and people and everything that people say and present us with. So you know, as a black person, if I just in my head, I believe everybody is racist. Regardless of how compassionate and loving you are. I'm only going to see what you say to me through the lens of the fact that I believe everybody's racist. The same is true with foster care and abuse. If all you believe about sexual abuse is that the people who were victimized are actually the offenders that you're going to view every child that way not realizing that that child has been stripped of laws. What are laws that's love, acceptance, worth, insecurity? The most precious thing Things that we either learn that we have and hold on to, or we learn that we lack. And when you do that you are reinforcing cycles of trauma, particularly in certain communities, sexual abuse can be a prominent thing because kids are unprotected.

Dawn Davenport  50:19  
That's where you see sexual abuse is where children are unprotected, yes,

Speaker 1  50:23  
where they're unprotected, where there aren't healthy conversations about anatomy, where there aren't healthy conversations around boundaries, like the fact that I don't want to let my child go and have a sleepover. We think that's taboo. But a lot of things happen outside of our range of view, as adults who care for children or people who are parents, like, we don't have conversations around that we don't have a healthy perspective of people who make decisions for the safety of their kids in their generations, ethnically and culturally, of that. And so a reinforces that. And one thing I would say to people who were concerned like, you have opportunity to break the cycle, by protecting a child. And I don't think we fully understand the impact of foster foster care is just another word for stewardship, stewardship of another human being that you didn't necessarily bring into this world. But now you have the opportunity to help clarify their paradigm so that they can function and be functional, thriving adults who also yield families and produce outcomes that lead to better communities. Like if we would start thinking about tomorrow and recognize that we need to think in terms of generations, we would value the role of foster care a lot differently, huh,

Dawn Davenport  51:49  
beautifully said. Let me stop here to remind you that we have 12 Free Online ed courses that are just excellent they come with if you need certificates of attendance, if you need CPE credit, they come with that they're one hour day are with wonderful experts, topics that are really relevant to your parenting journey. These courses are brought to you by The jockey being Family Foundation, they have been huge supporters of this podcast, but also creating a in general. So check out the free courses at Bitly slash J VF support that's bi T dot L y slash J. B F support. You have both and I'm going to use air quotes here succeeded, despite a lot of obstacles. What do you contribute your success to? And lineata? I'll start with you. And we'll end on this because I think it's a powerful way to end?

Speaker 2  52:53  
That's a great question. I would personally say all of the above. So I can tribute my success to the happy times. But I also contributed to the deep dark times of my life where I had to just sit and think about whether I am worthy of happiness, whether I'm worthy of my dreams coming true. In Me, personally, I got to a point where I'm like, I do have choices. I can sit here with my trauma, I can sit here with my anger with my frustration, or I can use it to build what I'm saying internally for me is my own mini empire. Right? There's that choice. And what I like to always have in the back of my head is I always remember where I came from. I always remember the times where I felt frustrated with myself felt frustrated with just simply being in care. And then there were always times where I had my child. And one of the things that I told my mentor at the time, literally I just gave birth to my baby girl. And I was just really vulnerable. And I said, How can I raise a little one when I don't even have my mom. I don't even know what it means to really do these things. And it was just the sheer moment of my mentor, holding my hand and told me I'm not alone. Right. So I wouldn't be here today. If it wasn't for the people who invested in me and show me that I can invest in myself. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the good, the bad and the Ugly. And I appreciate it all. But I realized that this is a journey, there's gonna be ups and downs. And I'm fine with that. And I'm really happy that I can utilize my story to really create change to inspire people. And that in itself is rewarding. For me, like, even if I didn't do anything else in life, it's just the fact that I can sit back and see people that I mentor, see my mentors, and just be grateful that I was able to do something that will outlive me. It's just so beautiful. This

Dawn Davenport  55:40  
Yeah, absolutely. Maya, what do you attribute your success to,

Speaker 1  55:47  
without a doubt, my faith in Christ, because when I was lonely, crying myself in the closet, after being abused, he was like, when I didn't have anyone to reach out to he was there. When I started developing relationships. And I also have, like, five mentors, like, that kind of became an extension of that. And for me, I think, success, there's a African proverb, if you want to go, you know, somewhere, you can try to do it by yourself. But if you want to go far, like that's where community comes into it. So for me, it's faith, it's community. And then pragmatically speaking, a lesson that I've had to learn is like being malleable, where you are able to deal with the hard things, and recognize like, it's a journey. And there are times where my experience with trauma and foster care really took a hit. To my worth, PASI myself had to add value. Even like, couple years ago, when I was coming up with my consulting prices, like I needed help, because it was such a paradigm shift for me to think that I could add value in a monetary sense, because this is something I'm passionate about that is also worthy of being compensated for, I had to unpack layers of that too. And recognizing like, oh, that came from that interesting. So surrounding yourself and community with people who can reflect to you the real image of who you are, and not what your trauma is trying to reflect to you. Because if you allow the reflection of your trauma to be the only thing that you see and the only lens through which you view yourself, you will allow yourself to disqualify yourself from sharing your story. You will allow yourself to disqualify yourself from living, you will allow yourself to essentially undo a lot of the work that you've done internally, you will disqualify yourself from relationships, opportunities, so learning to tether yourself to something that's bigger than you, and community. Those are the things that have really helped me be nurtured in terms of success. That's

Dawn Davenport  57:58  
beautiful. Thank you so much, Maya Warren and lanita Berry, we're going to go out by listening to a new album by Maya Warren, the album is becoming Maya. This is track two, we're picking it up kind of in the middle of track two. And I love the title better not bitter.

Speaker 3  58:19  
I'm giving away to your construction cause one thing I know I want to leave

Unknown Speaker  58:35  

Dawn Davenport  58:45  
Maya, before we leave, where can people get your album,

Speaker 1  58:48  
so people can support me directly on even that is it's a platform that allows you to buy artists album directly streaming platforms take a large portion. And you can also find it on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon music. So those are some of the ways you can support and it'll soon be up on my website at my which is Ma y A W AR rt

Dawn Davenport  59:15  
Thank you, and thank you both for being with us today. Did you know that hopscotch adoptions have been a long term and I do mean a long term supporter of creating a family and our mission and this podcast hopscotch adoptions is a Hague accredited international adoption agency placing children from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Ghana, Guiana, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia and Ukraine. They specialize in the placement of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs. They also do a lot of kinship adoptions. They place kids throughout the US and offer home study services and post adoption services to residents of North Carolina and New York.

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