‘When I chose crisis care homes more than ten years ago, I got courses. The youth care came to visit, has contact with my foster son to hear how he thinks it goes and keeps a close eye on it all. I do not know that before. I do not remember anyone ever coming to see how I felt. If only they had done it. Then I immediately asked if they could get me out of there.
“The people I lived with were not suitable as parents. Mr. was continuously fired everywhere, so the lady had to step in. The children, they also had five of their own, lived more on the street than they were at home. There was no coziness or warmth. If there was laughter, it was because someone was laughing. I retreated to my room as much as possible and disappeared into my books. I loved and love to read.
‘No idea what their motivation was for accepting a foster child. I never asked them that. And I do not have a file either. They always said that my stepmother got rid of me. As a baby, I ended up with the nuns in Utrecht or Zeist. After that, I lived with another foster family for a while, and then I ended up with this family. I do not care how it all happened. It does not change the situation whether I understand it or not. I’ve survived it.
“When I left there when I was sixteen, real life could begin. Although I had no idea what it was. I thought, ‘what are normal people doing?’ Well, they work and live. So that was what I was going to do. I had all sorts of jobs. From cashier to newspaper courier. And I got a scholarship because, like my friends, I had to take a higher education to become a chemical analyst. I chose the short course, but was quickly told that I was too clever for it. I had no idea. I had done almost nothing in school since my foster parents beat me to get better grades than their own children.
‘After graduating, I worked night shifts in laboratories for years. Nice and quiet. Not many people around me. But the work was not very challenging. At that time, there were also many vacancies in the health care system, so I had myself retrained as a psychiatric nurse. I did not stay long after I started working with young people. I wanted to help them, but sometimes I could not. I remember a boy very clearly: he was allergic to the only medicine that could give him a slightly normal life. So sad. My heart was broken.
They said my biological mother got rid of me
‘Kitt after I got pregnant and the father left with the northern sun. I became such a stay-at-home mom because I felt I needed to give my child a happy childhood and a good foundation. I was never for a second in doubt that I could. I read parenting books and talked a lot with the midwife when I was pregnant. And of course, I knew very well what not to do. When Beau was five years old, I started managing a daycare center and then I became a technical assistant teacher. And that was where I ended up: education. I became a substitute for physics, chemistry and mathematics.
“It went well for years, but of course I had no papers at all. Around 2017, it suddenly became a huge thing whether one was qualified as a teacher or not. I was trying to take a part-time degree so I could continue working as a math teacher. But after two years, I gave up. I had to learn things that I will never use in the preschool where I work. I then became a study counselor and sustainability coordinator. I now also teach sustainability.
“For me, sustainability is not about clearing plastic or insulating your home, but about the choices you make. It’s fine what you choose, but do it based on knowledge. So know what the consequences are if you buy new clothes every month. And what the effect is if the heating is always set to 24 degrees. I always ask my students to discuss everything at home. So that the conversation between parents and children is conducted. This is how I try to educate parents a little.
“As a study counselor, I regularly see the same children. I prefer to work hard with them in the school garden. Meanwhile, I ask what’s going on. What does their life look like. Such a conversation with a child I think is easier than with an adult. I used to think I found adults scary, but I think I find them mostly unreliable. It must be because of my past. I would rather work in their garden than drink coffee with them. Family means nothing to me. I can understand friendships. But family? No, that’s not my thing – even though I have a son and I’ve cared for a boy for ten years if he’s not doing well at home. I see people as individuals. As a valuable individual. And if I can help a child, I will do it. ”