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May 30, 2020

Anxiety and Resiliency: Persevering Beyond Adversity

by Kay Ramsey, Ph. D.

In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, and as a former foster youth and adoptee I want you to consider the level of anxiety- and resiliency- of a foster child. We are often forgotten, overlooked and stereotyped by society. When I share with others that I used to be in foster care, I receive looks of astonishment. People often say, “Wow, you don’t look like you were in foster care.” or, “Oh, I am so sorry to hear that.” To be honest with you, I don’t know what I am supposed to look like, I don’t know what foster care looks like. In my opinion, it looks like me! Many years ago, during graduate school at Pepperdine University, I wrote an essay titled Disqualifying the Stereotype. Those words have held significance throughout my life because it propelled me to continue to break stereotypes about children that have grown up in foster care.


“There is a persistent overrepresentation of children from culturally marginalized populations within the foster care system. Among these racial groups, the overrepresentation of Black children in foster care is most notable, it’s estimated that 24% of all children in foster care are Black”(Fox, 2016). In addition, foster youth have a higher rate of dropping out of high school, not matriculating into college and entering prison at a very young age. Within the prison population, 80% of the inmates are former foster youth dealing with mental health disabilities. Across the United States there are 400,000 children in foster care, and in California 50,000 children are in foster care.


Foster parents and mentors are needed around the world because they can ultimately shift stereotypes in the lives of so many neglected children. Most foster parents want to adopt children three years old and younger, which leaves the other children in and out of the child welfare system. These children live with anxiety because they go from foster home to foster home. Some may even live in over 100 different foster homes in their lifetime before they emancipate out of the system as a young adult. The level of anxiety and fear one can experience while living in foster care is simply horrific. A foster child’s behavioral problems are attributed to abuse and neglect, which is not the child’s fault. Not knowing where you’re going to live on a day to day basis because of your behavior results in shame. If the child’s anxiety is not managed with the support of a mental health professional it can cycle into continuous behavioral problems, in school and in the home, which then affects the trajectory of the child’s life.


However, there is hope. I do believe with the support, stability and love of a foster parent, a mentor, and needed structure, a foster child can gain resilience and learn how to persevere beyond adversity.


Follow the link here, to hear more about my story and how having a mentor helped me go from foster care, adoption, homelessness then to obtain my PhD.

Dr. Kay Ramsey is the Southern California Executive Director of Bethany Christian Services her story has been featured on CBS 2 News, Fox 11 and Spectrum News 1 as well as an array of radio and podcasts stations. Currently, Dr. Ramsey is working on her upcoming book release titled Persevering Beyond Adversity: The Blue Print for Winter 2020. The Blue Print gives you a gritty story about being born from sexual violence in a prison, later being put into foster care, then experiencing homelessness after her adoptive mother passed away. The Blue Print gives you tools for success on how to turn pain into passion and persevere beyond adversity with faith, a vision and several mentors.