Throughout the U.S., there are roughly 500,000 foster children who will go to bed in another family’s home tonight. Suicides are too commonplace among teens and adults struggling through the same psychological and emotional situations I endured. Half of those students will not graduate from high school on time, if at all. Upward mobility in our country is harder than ever meaning that children born into poverty and insecurity are unlikely to escape its clutches. There are a multitude of reasons for writing a book of this genre. Much on my life hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned to cope with whatever comes my way. Achieving success by having a wonderful family and well-paying job should have been a stopping point in terms of my search for happiness.
However, I've always felt a calling to do more. For the longest time, I thought that calling might be getting involved in politics. Last year, I decided that I didn’t quite have the temperament to join the political fray and doubted I could make a difference even if I managed to make it all the way to Washington, D.C. I haven’t shut the door on an opportunity much further down the road, but I determined my knowledge and skill sets would be better utilized directly helping others achieve their own self-actualization – the realization or fulfillment of one’s talent and potential.
As a former foster youth from a small rural community, my story and name alike are pretty much unknown beyond Rappahannock County, Virginia. However, that hasn’t stopped me from setting out to begin making a name for myself in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Shortly after arriving in Pittsburgh, I began searching for something more meaningful to do with my everyday life. In short, I was in search of a career with a more fulfilling purpose. I came across the idea of a charter school, and it was that idea that finally ignited my soul. The concept was on my mind when I fell asleep and when I’d get out of bed in the morning. After meeting with the director of Pennsylvania’s charter school coalition and several friends, I was repeatedly encouraged to write my story. “It’s compelling.” “It’s inspiring.” Truth be told, I’d didn’t put that much thought into my life events having the ability to influence anyone. I’d had a turbulent existence up to that point, and the thought of reliving any of my past episodes didn’t immediately appeal to me. Over the course of six months, it finally dawned on me that I would have to venture back into my past and make amends with it if I were ever going to realize my newly sought-after future.
In preparation for this book and to discover my writing style, I read seven books related to foster care or growing up under hard circumstances. I found myself reading through the inspiring progression, yet unable to relate to the authors in the end. While their stories tugged at my heartstrings, I didn’t get a feel for what they endured on an emotional level. They never seemed to make mistakes. They appeared to be naturally resilient to everything without explaining how they became that way. Unlike them, I was fortunate to avoid sexual or physical abuse along the way. I can’t even imagine dealing with horrendous occurrences and becoming a functioning adult afterwards. Foster children are a resilient breed, and my hats off to any of them who make it out of the system to become successful adults.
With Broken Child Mended Man (BCMM), I decided to take a risk and pour out my overwhelming sense of inner chaos that ultimately led to many poor decisions. Back then, I handled each crisis through an enraged lens. Thankfully, I was surrounded by two communities who saw through my social status and embraced a child searching for a way. I can say with absolute certitude that it’s been a long and arduous process to learn the coping mechanisms it takes to effectively deal with everyday life – at least the way many of us live. In my case, it was a process to become mended. As for the title of the book, I happened to be talking to an old friend about picking up the broken pieces of our lives and mending fences. Broken Child Mended Man popped into my head and replaced a title that must never be mentioned again (Hint: It was awful!). I hope you enjoy the read and find it useful in your endeavors.