Hope feels free—free to grow, free to live, free to dream.
“They let me do my own thing and don’t judge me, and they’re letting me find my own rhythm,” said Hope.
Hope is 18 years old and describes herself as always wanting to help others, but not really knowing how to ask for help herself. She has been in DePaul’s Independent Living program since last summer. Her transition to Independent Living happened a bit faster than she had planned, but Hope is familiar with the feeling of life happening too quickly.
“Foster care forced me to grow up super fast,” said Hope.
When she was 9 years old, Hope, along with her two siblings, entered the foster care system. Through the years, Hope moved through foster homes but never really felt at home. She buried her emotions and built walls around her heart to protect herself. She said many people assumed the worst of her instead of giving her a chance.
“I feel like we’re in trouble as soon as we walk through the door, and honestly that hurts a lot because all I ever wanted to do was make everyone else happy,” said Hope.
Those difficult years are what led Hope to dream of a future where she could help youth in foster care.
“I feel like in my situation, no one really listened to me and I want to be the person that listens to other people.”
Her plan is to graduate high school in the spring, enroll in community college, and study psychology. She wants to stay in the Independent Living program, learning more about herself and about life.
Hope is hopeful about her future. Hopeful about a mended relationship with her siblings. Hopeful about rebuilding a relationship with her biological mother. Hopeful about the friendship blossoming with her neighbor, a young woman named Cat who is also in the program. And hopeful that fewer children will enter foster care and the children that do will be given love and support and room to write their own stories.
“Remember that they are children, and you can’t blame kids for something they can’t control,” said Hope. “They don’t have options on what their life story is yet … give them a chance.”