‘You don’t really belong to anyone’: N.B. mom reflects on childhood in foster care

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New Brunswick woman reflects on childhood in foster care
WATCH: Almost 700 children are currently living in foster care placements in New Brunswick. A Moncton mom is reflecting on her experiences growing up in the system, as she contemplates becoming a foster parent. Suzanne Lapointe has more – Oct 28, 2022

Having her first child has made Robyn Richard reflect on her own childhood, a sometimes rocky upbringing within New Brunswick’s foster-care system.

“One thing I really want to provide for my son is a life without that, where he has both of his parents full time all the time and that we’re here to love and support him throughout everything and that we’re the best versions of ourselves for him,” she told Global News on Friday.

She and her younger sister were placed with family members through what is called kinship placements in the foster-care system due to her mother’s struggles with substance use disorder.

She stayed with her grandmother in Richibucto until age 13, when she was placed in her aunt’s care in Rexton.

“Something that I remember the most about the foster care system is knowing that I technically didn’t have parents … You don’t really belong to anyone unless you get adopted, which never happened for me,” she said.

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Read more: New Brunswick introduces new child protection legislation

She recalls feeling a sense of instability each time she was assigned a different social worker, as she said it took time for her to trust each one and open up to them.

“If I could change anything (about the foster-care system) I would want these kids to have longer lasting bonds and maybe have a more open conversation with the social care workers and the foster-care system to be explained. Because children are not as aware as we may think they are. Sometimes knowing what’s going on wins them half the battle and helps them move forward,” she said.

Despite the challenges, she said there were some positives that came out of growing up in foster care.

The province paid for her college tuition fees, even covering the cost of her books and rent as long as she kept her grades up.

“I studied Youth Care. I specifically studied to work with youth that ended up in group homes. That was something that was really close to my heart, knowing the struggles I went through. I kind of wanted to help kids like me,” she said.

Read more: ‘One kind of abuse and trauma to another’: Indigenous person speaks on child welfare system

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She also had a support worker who visited once a week in order to help her adjust to living on her own.

“I created a really great bond with her, she taught me about budgeting and cooking, stuff like that … sometimes she was just there to talk,” Richard said.

Still, she went through some struggles once she aged out of the system upon graduating college.

Now 29 years old, Richard has a good relationship with her mother, who has become a doting grandmother to her five-month-old son Parker.

There are currently 660 children in foster homes and 204 children in kinship placements according to the Department of Social Development.

While there are 197 kinship placement homes, there are only 356 foster homes in the province.

A spokesperson for the Department told Global News on Friday that the province is “continuously working to increase the number of foster families in New Brunswick.”

Richard hopes to become a foster parent in the future.


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