The Child Welfare Advocate
Straight Out of Foster Care: Reflecting on My Village
- Tyler L. Hunter
- Friday, December 2nd, 2022
In honor of National Adoption month, I’d like to express how grateful I am for the professionals and supporting staff that care for the children in foster care across my great state. As an alumni foster youth myself, I understand the difficulties in providing care for another’s child. I was not always the easiest kid to love; I didn’t know what love from a mom or dad would look like for me. Although I had not experienced that sort of love until I was adopted as a teenager, I knew what love should look like from my friends, their parents, and most importantly my teachers.
Teachers played a critical role in my upbringing. I remember opening my locker in elementary school and I would have snacks, shoes, or clothes stuffed in there with a note attached to it: “I hope you have a good week.” It wasn’t just my teachers, but also the school staff that would support me in any way possible. The cafeteria workers would sign my agenda and made sure I did my homework; the PTO would pay for my fieldtrips. I have always had a special connection with my teachers, even in college, which surprised me. My professors were truly invested in me. They were always available for me. They took time to understand my story and experience growing up as a foster kid, getting adopted as a teenager, and figuring out this thing called life once my adopted mother passed away. It even went above that.
As a national child welfare leader, my professors followed and supported my journey. They would mention my name in rooms that I had not yet set foot in. They viewed me as a student, an asset, professional, and a resource. I will never forget that on my graduation day, I cried on one of my WKU professor’s shoulders as she said, “I know that I am not your mom, but I will give you a mom hug. I am so proud of you,” she said as tears flowed down both of our faces.
I am just one out of the many foster kids on WKU’s campus that struggled to get here, but I made it! Now, I have a responsibility to pour that same love, investment, and guidance back into our youth. My cup is filled, so that I can pour into someone else’s cup, with the expectation that they pour into the next person’s. We are stronger together! I will always have a special place in my heart for the educators who protected, provided, and loved a kid like me. Thank you so much. Happy National Adoption month!
Tyler L. Hunter, BA: Sociology & Criminology
Advisory Board Member; LifeSkills Center for Child Welfare Education and Research, Western Kentucky University
“I see you, I hear you, I feel you, because I am you”