My name is Ashley Shannon and I was in foster care. I was born to parents that both had mental health disorders and had developmental delays. There is not a doubt in my mind that they didn’t love my sisters and I. Our childhood wasn’t the easiest, but I made it through it. When I was 14 my father was diagnosed with a terminal brain disease. Our family was devastated because we were going to lose our father. He was the glue that held our family together. I was going to miss experiencing so many things with my father: getting my driver’s license, watching me graduate, walking me down the aisle, meeting my children. 8 short months later, after watching my father deteriorate, he passed away. That’s when my world forever changed. My mother couldn’t take care of my sisters and I anymore. We were placed in foster care. In the beginning, I thought this was a horrible thing who was going to take care of my mother? I finally learned that I was only 16 my sisters and I weren’t supposed to take care of her she was supposed to take care of us. She had mental disorders (that only got worse after my father’s death) that prohibited her from taking care of us. We finally embraced being in foster care. We were put into a group home so my sisters and I could stay together. Our case worker worked very hard on making sure we weren’t split up. A little while after being in the group home one of the staff members opened up a foster home for us. They were a very nice family and they did a great job making us feel like normal kids. Eventually they did get a divorce and we had to go back to the group home. My sisters and I adjusted to living in a group home setting. A little while later I graduated from high school and went on to college. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I plan to get my master’s degree in social work and become a therapist for children in foster care. I really want to give back to the foster system. If I wasn’t placed in foster care I feel I would have ended up in jail and been in and out of trouble. While I was at home my mother wasn’t capable of teaching me how to be a successful adult; she didn’t even have the right tools to be successful herself. Foster care gave me a chance at a normal(ish) life. I didn’t have to worry about taking care of my parent or my sisters I could just be a teenager and focus on normal things teenagers had to deal with. Now I have my own family and can give them the life I never got to experience. I have accomplished a lot in my life that I don’t think I could have if I wasn’t placed in foster care: I have graduated from not only high school, but college, I joined the military, I got married, I had children, and I have a wonderful job. I am eternally grateful to God, my caseworker, and all of the people who touched my life while I was in foster care.