Growing up in care is not the ideal situation, on the surface at least. It comes attached with a certain stigma that is difficult to shake. But it also comes attached with the possibility of gaining a second chance; a chance to start over with a new family and life. My foster family was a blessing to me, their family became my family, their traditions became my traditions, their home became my home.
From the time I moved into care, I was adamant on becoming a prosecution lawyer. I was motivated by the personal experiences that led to me being placed in care to follow this career path as ‘more people should be sent to prison’; as if it was that simple. As is the same for every child growing up, career dreams and wishes change and then change again like the minute hand on a clock.
I moved from ideas of being a lawyer to a surgeon to a journalist to someone who studies volcanoes and natural disasters, and then right back to law again. My foster parents supported me each time I changed my mind, telling me that I could do any of those things and more. They encouraged me to take up the violin which I had wanted to do since I was a child, arranged for me to have lessons at school, helped me prepare for the exams, and gave me the extra push I needed to start attending an orchestra.
Doing all of this and more, my foster parents gave me the confidence to believe in myself and the things I wanted to achieve in life. There are so many wonderful experiences I have had that I never would have gained if it hadn’t been for them: numerous holidays and birthday trips, sleepovers with their grandchildren that became my cousins, Christmas morning getting up at the crack of dawn and opening presents around the tree. Some of these things might not sound all that special, but they are things that children moving into foster care might never have had before and are the very things that they should get to experience.
My foster parents helped me take advantage of every opportunity presented to me. And it was this that determined my route to university and where I am today. In year 10, they encouraged me to take part in a programme that Aston University ran with my school, and at the end we had a graduation ceremony there. It was then I decided that I would recreate that moment at the same university on my actual graduation.
I went on to study law at A level, taking part in advocacy competitions at the Crown Court, and further studied my LLB Law Degree at Aston, graduating this year with a first-class degree and the proudest moment of achievement I have after winning an advocacy competition at the Supreme Court in front of one of the best judges the UK has. I am now completing the Bar Training Course to qualify as a barrister, with the hopes of specialising in family law, and representing children in care at the Bar. To put it simply, none of this could have been possible without my foster parents.