“Being adopted doesn’t define me. Nothing really defines you. The only thing that defines you is yourself.”

Story originally published in 2016 edition of Quiver yearbook.

A constant cycle of packing and unpacking. For a majority of her life, Kristy Willis (10) had been living in foster care, constantly bouncing from home to home for years.

“There [were] homes where I only lived there for a day and a half,” Willis said.

A day and a half. 36 hours with a family and then time to move again.

“It’s hard on a young kid because they make friends and get attached to people, then they have to leave and it’s really hard on them. That goes for any age I guess. It’s just hard on the young kid because they are confused and scared [of] what is going on [and] that they are living with different people. When you constantly move into different places, they seclude themselves and don’t like opening up very much,” Willis said.

Relocating from home to home for so long left Willis with an unique independence.

“I’m not very dependent on people because I only had to live with myself for so long. When you stay in one place and move around, all you have is yourself because you can’t keep an attachment with [the] people you are with,” Willis said.

With this unique independence, Willis learned skills that otherwise she wouldn’t have gained.

“I realized who [my] friends [were] and who I [was] able to be attached to or who to watch out for because I went to so many different schools. I figured out who the people [were] that [I] should be close to. I learned how to care for [myself] independently. A lot of young kids learn it when they go through stuff like that, they kind of learned how to stay themselves and be independent and be able to do things by themselves and not rely on somebody.”

Now, Willis no longer has to constantly pack and unpack her belongings. She was formally adopted about two years ago.

“Honestly, [adoption] doesn’t make me any different. I still live with people that care for me. I’m a lot happier than I was. I have somewhere that I can stay living and not worry about where I’m going to live next,” Willis said.

Despite the impact living in foster homes has had on her life, she refuses to let that part of her life define her.

“Being adopted doesn’t define me. Nothing really defines you. The only thing that defines you is yourself. How you act and how you perceive things is what defines you,” Willis said.

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