Chris's Story - AMP | Achieving Maximum Potential
 

Chris's Story

                Chris is currently 23 years old and was in the child welfare system for seven years between the ages of 11 and 18. During that time, Chris was in one group home, one shelter, and four different foster homes. Growing up, Chris had a lot of anger problems but to this day isn’t entirely sure why his parents’ rights were terminated.

                Throughout his time in care, Chris had a few negative experiences. One part of this is that he had some foster homes that weren’t a very healthy or good fit for Chris. He also had a case worker who didn’t really involve him in his case.

Despite these negative experiences, Chris had many positive things. One major thing for Chris is that he received help with his anger and this allowed him to become a better person. He also was able to feel like a part of a family and experienced new things like going to Adventureland for the first time and living in the country. Chris met a lot of influential people who had a very positive influence on him. In regards to these people, Chris says, “They made me who I am today and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be advocating which is something I love.” Being in foster care has helped Chris learn that he can be anything he wants to be, he can belong somewhere, and he can feel safe.

AMP has been a huge resource for Chris and has benefited him in many ways. It has allowed him to become an advocate for himself and other youth. It is important to Chris that he helps make things better for other youth who will follow him through the child welfare system. He has met and shared experiences with a lot of new people from all over the state. AMP has also allowed Chris to make connections with people who have helped shape who he is today. Chris says that these people have “opened the doors to my future.”

When Chris aged out of care, he said that it was a shock to him but he felt like he had more freedom. He also did not feel alone because he still had a lot of people around him who were supporting him. Some things that really helped him prepare for aging out was learning life skills at his various placements and also receiving a transition book. This book talks about how to apply for jobs, make a resume, dress for an interview, and overall a lot of knowledge that is important and helpful to youth aging out of care.

One thing that made transition harder for Chris was that while in care, he was always told what to do by the adults around him. Once he was on his own, this turned around and Chris was the only one responsible for what he did. This somewhat scared Chris at first because there was no set structure and schedule to his life anymore like there had been for many years.

When asked what advice Chris has for other youth, his main recommendation was to get involved in AMP. He says that AMP is a support group that will always be there for you. He also recommends getting actively involved in AMP and be a voice for other people who are still in the system.  Chris also says to “unleash your potential and take charge of your life. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it’s life, it happens. Don’t quit or give up, keep going! Go to school because it will open so many more doors for you.”

In December, Chris will graduate from Buena Vista at Iowa Western Community College with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Psychology.  When thinking back on his time in care and life so far, Chris says that “I wouldn’t change a thing. I embrace it because I can help others and it has made me who I am.”

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