By Layla Beswarick
Permanence. This idea can be defined as "the state or quality of lasting or remaining unchanged indefinitely." Now, for most adopted youth this idea is ironic, even for me. It must be a joke because only "normal" kids get that. A normal child gets to have one family that loves them, a home, food and most importantly stability. Most youth don't even see the importance of permanence after moving so many times. I didn't see the importance for a long time, until my 3rd and last home.
When I was younger, I thought my biological family would always be there but their own addictions took over and death became the plague within all the people I had known growing up. My foster home was a home I looked up to, they had love that my biological family had forgotten about, they gave and opened my eyes to things I had never had to opportunity to do. They weren't supposed to be my family forever though because even if they did love us, they had a life already built up for themselves; but I finally entered my adoptive home and here my parents gave me diversity, it was a thing I lacked most in my entire life. Now, I don't mean diversity as in skin color, though that was an aspect of it. I mean diversity in opinions and perspectives, in places and in lifestyles. It's been my journey of having moved 14 times in my 17 years of life and having, had 3 families and each one so different from the next that made me into the person I am today. These homes have taught me that permanence does not come from how many places you've moved or how many families you've lived with, it comes from how many families you call your own or how many places you've come to know as your home. These things keep a child like me centered in a world that's always changing.
My biological family loved my two siblings and I more than anything else in this whole entire world. I can honestly say that in my first 5 years of my life, even if I don't remember it, they were the best years and laid the foundations of my personality now. My mother got pregnant when she was 17, and had me when she was 18, she even dropped out of high school for a bit to raise and love me. I was not an easy child either - I was always causing trouble and I loved it. My father went to work and had his eyes for my mother. They're love is a love I aspire to have when I'm older. As I was growing up my sister and brother came into my life and it seemed as if I had everything I wanted. I had my cousins and sister always around me. (We were all around the same age). We would play and play until the sun set and dinner was made. I'll never forget those memories of warmth and safety. When I was 7 years old, my whole family came crashing when my mother died. For a few years, my father would barely look at us. My grandma got cancer when I was 8 and died when I was 9. When she left, my siblings and I realized that we were alone in this world. In school, we got bullied a lot because we smelled like cigarettes and our clothes were old. In our house, sometimes we would go a week or two without food. We would miss school a lot and CAS (Children's Aid Society) was called 8 times. It came out about what my uncle was doing to us and then we moved to a shelter. The shelter was one of the best things that happened in a while, we had food, "new" clothes, shampoo, hot water. The shelter even gave us bus tickets so we didn’t have to walk in the snow. The shelter even had a bus take us to school in the morning and in the afternoon. This new cycle passes for a few months and soon the shelter finds out about my father’s drinking habits.
At the age of 12 is when we moved to a new foster home. It was night time and when we came into the house it was warm and had a reddish tint that made it seem welcoming. My siblings and I stayed in this house for a year. They got rid of our lice, they bought us new clothes, signed us into our new school, made sure we got involved in activities and they took us to church every Sunday. Without even realizing it they created a community we soon after called home. It was everything I had wanted and wished for. However, we couldn't stay here because the foster home had two sons around my age and had responsibilities as adults and parents that made it unsustainable for them to keep us. However, they ensured our adoption home would be one that would love and keep us safe
At the age of 13 I was done with moving families, done with moving places and for a few years I didn't know who was what to me. I lashed anger and resentment at my adopted family, I wanted my biological or my foster home back but I was just an angry child looking for comfort. We were living in Toronto and for my whole life I lived in small cities or towns and the city life was overwhelming on top of everything. I was confused to say the least but throughout it all my adopted parents never judged, always tried to keep a cool head on their shoulders and introduced me to new foods, to different fashion styles, to a structured education and most importantly to new perspectives of the world. It isn't a one-dimensional world and to understand this is to understand yourself.
To finally conclude for the first few years while I was discovering who my family really was I never stopped to look at who I really was - a resilient, stubborn, wild child. I had traits of my biological, my foster, and my adoption home all mixed and intertwined. Permanence is your definition of roots, it is what keeps you going when life is nothing more than trench warfare. Permanence is the people who keep you stable but it's more than that, it's your goals and aspirations (once you've established them), it's what you want for your own kids and what you want to offer the world. Through my own journey, this is what I've come to realize; the people who have helped me (even if it was sometimes through hard memories) will always be in my life no matter where I go, no matter who I live with, they'll live inside me through my ups and downs and have laid the foundations of stability within me. I'll be eternally grateful for them.
Thank you xx