There is a growing foster care alumni movement taking place in America that includes publishing books about foster children written by alumni. These concerned authors know that sharing their foster care experiences, insights and recommendations affords them a way to:
- Resolve lingering childhood issues and put their adult lives in perspective
- Provide youth living in foster care role-models and hope for a better future
- Specify how the child welfare system must improve its services to foster youth
Memoirs about childhood have long been a staple in nonfiction literature, but only in the last few decades have so many memoirs of childhood focused on the foster care experience.
These authors are at the forefront of paving the way to a clearer understanding of what it’s like growing up in the care of strangers, surviving a broken child welfare system, learning how to suddenly transition from dependent to independent living and then, somehow, maturing into well-adjusted, contributing members of society.
Just living through this traumatic experience is more than enough for most alumni; reliving it in detail borders on crazy. Nonetheless, in doing so, a growing movement of alumni is writing their memoirs to learn about themselves, as well as improve the placement experiences and outcomes of kids living the life they once lived.
Memoir editors must understand that these foster care alumni have a mission much greater than to just publish a memoir. There are plenty of books about training foster parents and training foster care professionals written by authors who have not experienced what it’s like to grow up in placement.
The special sauce alumni authors offer are their insider perspective of the foster care experience with which other alumni and foster youth can relate and from which foster care parents and professionals can learn. That’s a large audience of potential readers.
More importantly, however, the continued proliferation of foster care memoirs and other books about foster care authored by alumni will eventually confirm to the public that the child welfare system is broken, while the published wisdom of its former clients informs the decision-makers how to fix it.
That is the ultimate value of foster care memoirs: they are all about change.
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