Spotlight on Kinship Care Christopher Winston interviewed by Cortez Lee Carey This series presents first person perspectives from individuals who grew up in foster care, kinship care, and adoption. Now they are young adults who are blazing pathways to success in life. The following interview offers a glimpse into one view of the foster care experience.
Chris is a visual artist and video editor. After his time in kinship care, Chris decided to return to his hometown of Pittsburgh to pursue his dreams of going to college and earning a degree in graphic design. He helped produce this blog while working as an intern at Three Rivers Youth.
CC. What was the hardest part of growing up in foster care? CW. I guess the hardest part was feeling like a stranger. My mom moved around a lot, trying to get away from bad influences and trying to keep me and my sister safe. I didn’t really fit in with the rest of my family. I didn’t really know them. I was an outsider. I kind of just got used to it.
CC. What do you think foster children need most? CW. I think that the most important thing a foster child needs is someone to love them for who they are, provide emotion support, talk to them—someone they can rely on. Parental support, family support, having the comfort of people you grew up with, those are blessings that are not easy to replace, and a lot of people take them for granted. During the holidays, I miss the parties, having a lot of people around. It gets lonely.
CC. What kind of resources were available to you in foster care? CW. Early on I had a lot of resources because I lived in a large city with decent services. I was in the gifted program at school and had support from case workers and therapists and such. Now, I that I am older, I have a lot of connections to youth programs and resources in Pittsburgh, such as transitional living programs that really have my back.
CC. Who is one of your biggest role models and why? CW. I guess my biggest role model would have to be my mom. Even though she had a rough life, she was really committed to keeping us safe and on the right path.
CC. What are the qualities of good parents? CW. I think good parents pay attention to their child’s feelings and listen to them. A lot of parents think children are too young to understand certain things and don’t give their children the level of responsibility, respect, and trust they need to grow up. Love and understanding and the ability to talk to your child are all good qualities.