Last week, we celebrated with Tammy and Ronderik (RD) Curtis as we shared their story of becoming a family just one year ago. When Tammy asked RD if the media attention surrounding his adoption was too much he said, “No, Mom – I still have friends in foster care, and I want to make sure they know to never give up.” Part 2 of this story is sharing some powerful insight from Ronderik Curtis.
DTFA: What do you want to say to youth currently in the system who may be considering getting adopted?
RD: Never give up and make sure to remember what you’ve learned, but always have fun. It’s scary when you first get there, but you should know your new family will love you forever. Sometimes you will be scared that if you do something bad you will have to go back into foster care, but once you have a family they will really be your forever family no matter what.
DTFA: Why is it still important to consider adoption, especially as an older youth in foster care?
RD: If you’re adopted, you’ll have a family and have the chance to take your time to figure out what you want to do with your life. If you make the choice to remain in foster care and age out, you’re on your own and it’s really hard in the society that we live in – you’re just rushed out with no one to call family. It will be pretty hard to get a job or a house. Even though you may think you don’t need anyone, once you have a family, you’ll realize that you are going to need them a long time after you turn 18.
DTFA: What do you wish others knew about children in foster care?
RD: That most of them aren’t bad kids; most of them haven’t been to jail, and they aren’t what you may think of them. They are really nice kids and they just want to be a part of a family - they want to be loved and have the things that ‘normal’ kids have. We are just like ‘normal’ kids but sometimes act out because we are scared, not because we want to.
I just want people to know most kids in foster care aren’t what society might sometimes assume. We have dreams just like everyone else. Even though our number one dream is to get adopted, we dream about what we want to be when we grow up and places we want to visit, and where we want to go to college.
DTFA: Share some favorite things about your family.
RD: My mom likes a lot of the same things I like: music, video games and movies, and Disney stuff. She loves me unconditionally and never let my bad behavior affect her love for me. It’s okay that my mom is strict with me because that means she loves me. Sometimes she doesn’t agree with how I dress but she lets me. She thinks socks and slides look really dumb, but she is okay when I wear them.
I love to hang out with my Pappy to go to see movies, and he teaches me about sports and takes me to Bucs and Rays games. He’s my best friend and my hero. Even though he’s my grandpa, he’s really kind of like a dad too. I know I can always count on him to be there for me and he’s going to help me grow up to be a really good man.
I have my Uncle Jeff who lives in Venice Beach and I get to go visit him for Thanksgiving. He is very cool and has made special trips back to Florida just to spend time with me. He is hilarious and I can talk to him about anything and I know he won’t ever judge me and I know he loves me.
I have a real godmother now too. Christy is my mom’s best friend and cousin, so she’s my cousin too, but kind of like my aunt. I love her because even though she is family, she doesn’t have to love me like Mom has to, but she does anyway. Her daughter Kiley (my cousin) is my BFF too! Christy helps make sure I stay in line and I love her for that.
My life has changed very much because I’ve gone from having my stuff worn by other kids, sometimes having to wear shoes that didn’t fit, borrow shirts, having to write my name on my possessions and having to protect all of my things. I’ve gone from having nothing to having a lot of things – I have a bed that doesn’t leave a scar, and I have a room all to myself for the very first time. I can be loved now and I have a family to rely on, a person to tell me what’s right from wrong, a person who loves me unconditionally and I have my mom who really wants to be in my life, and in my school life, and wants to help me learn and be the best I can be. My family loves me more than I ever thought I could be loved and I know that they will always be there for me no matter what.