Jessica is the oldest of three siblings. When she was born, her mother was too young and ill-prepared to handle the responsibility of raising children in a healthy environment. Because of that, Jessica and her brother and sister were placed in their first foster home when she was five-years-old.
Her first foster mom enrolled Jessica in Girl Guides which ultimately had a strong influence on her. “Being a girl guide member and then a leader for a few years was important to me because we need to as a society empower girls and young women to go after what they want, and be whatever they want to be,” says Jessica. “It is where I met a friend who is my best friend today. She encouraged me to keep returning to Girl Guides each year. We enjoyed awesome camping trips and had the time of our lives.” Her enthusiasm for the outdoors continues today.
Jessica’s life changed again during elementary school when she was placed into a culturally-appropriate Marymound Treatment Foster Care (TFC) home that fortunately included her siblings. The trauma from early childhood had created emotional issues that required skilled foster parents and specialized care. The new stability and guidance from the TFC program helped Jessica become the top student of her middle school graduating class. She later graduated from high school with a B average.
Initially, when Jessica and her siblings entered foster care, there was no contact with their birth Mother. But eventually through Marymound Treatment Foster Care, visits were scheduled through their second foster family. The experience led to Jessica seeing her mother from a new perspective and noticing the positive changes she was making in her life. This helped to set the groundwork for a future healthy relationship.
Jessica’s Marymound family included two loving parents with four children of their own. She lived with them for 11 years. This positive family environment enabled her and her siblings to be exposed to new experiences that included playing musical instruments and going on school trips. She also learned to drive, and was able to enjoy numerous other opportunities. Her foster parents also influenced Jessica’s understanding of the significance of education. “To me, education is important because people need to learn so that they can become productive members of society in one way or another, or in ways that work for them,” says Jessica.
Jessica is thankful for her Marymound family who helped raise her through all the good and difficult times until she was 21. Jessica currently lives with her birth mother. “It is fantastic that I am back with her and I’m very glad she fought so hard for us to have a relationship while we were in foster care so that it wasn’t a weird thing to live with her after I aged out,” she beams. “I also live with my brother at my Mom’s house but my sister recently moved out. I know that no matter what happens between us that my siblings will always be there for me, as I will be for them.”
Jessica is currently working and is hoping for a permanent position as an Educational Assistant in the Winnipeg School Division. She also has plans to foster, after she has children of her own. “I think people will see me wanting to be a foster parent kind of odd, but I see it as a way to give back for all the years I was in care. In total, I was in care for 14 years and I have said thank you for different things, but I think this is a great way to give back in a good way.”