Margaret's Journey

My mother’s foster brother’s girlfriend’s sister dropped me off at college.  I’ll repeat – my mother’s foster brother’s girlfriend’s sister dropped me off at college. It was 2008 when she packed her 1997 red Ford Taurus with a large tote of my clothes and a pillow. I sat in the back seat and  watched Detroit fade to highway and the highway fade to Chicago. I  gripped a laminated page I had torn out of a old photo album, which contained the sole three photographs I have of my biological mother. There is one of her holding one year old me in her arms - there’s birthday cake all over my face and fingers. Another shows she and I standing next to the shiny new Taurus when I was 7. And in the last photograph, my mother is sleeping in a shimmery white dress in a blue casket.

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Margaret Marion
Ashley's Story, Part 2

Most five year olds know their ABC’s and 123’s and love coloring. These activities were foreign concepts to me. I was too busy changing my baby sister's diapers and worrying about where we would get our next meal to learn these things. Without guidance from a healthy adult caregiver, I didn’t get a strong foundation, which is so important for development. At a few months shy of six years old, I arrived to my new parents’ home significantly behind. I entered the first grade without knowing how to appropriately interact with peers or recite the alphabet. I barely passed the first grade and was placed into a full-time special education classroom for the second grade. 

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Ashley Lepse Keme
Ashley's Story, Part 1

I was adopted when I was nine years old after spending five years in the Illinois foster care system. My siblings and I were removed from my biological home when I was four years old. As a young child, I was embarrassed and ashamed of this part of my life and kept it a secret for a long time. I remember being in elementary and high school and having to do family tree projects. My stomach would knot up thinking about how to present my family tree without disclosing my background in foster care and then the fact that I was adopted. The stigma that “foster kid” carried was too heavy for my young soul to handle.

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Ashley Lepse Keme