These excerpts come courtesy of the Umps Care Charities newsletter that features our own CB employee, Cadence "Zoe" Cottom.
Do you have any advice for others who can relate to your journey?
Being in foster care and being adopted makes you different than other kids. But I never saw this as a bad thing. I matured at a very young age and learned how to be independent. My advice is to realize how amazing you are for making it through all of the things you've had to deal with. It isn't easy, and it isn't even our fault, but we're the ones that have to deal with it. So give yourself a break. Focus on getting through the struggle one day at a time. Because once you reach the other side, you're a better person because of what you've been through. This journey taught me empathy and compassion and that the best things in life aren't things, but the people you love most.
Your last semester has been spent working a full-time and in school full-time. What exactly are you doing and who are you working for?
This semester has been very hard for me! I've juggled a 40 hour work week while taking 13 credit hours (5 classes). It started last semester when I interned at Children's Bureau, Inc. in Indianapolis for a class requirement. As my internship was ending in December, a position opened up. I was so excited to apply that I didn't even stop to think about how I'd manage school and work. I am now the recruitment coordinator for Indiana Adoption Program (contracted out of Children's Bureau, Inc.). My job has many facets but I'll name just a few. First, I work with Adoption Champions all over the state to set up educational events in their communities to recruit prospective parents to adopt waiting children in foster care. I also manage our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). And my favorite part of my job is organizing Adoption Meet & Greet Events. These events are designed to be fun and interactive for prospective families and children in the hopes of facilitating a match. For example, we have done bowling, basketball, and LEGO-themed events, to name a few. It's a really great aspect of our program because it allows prospective parents to meet 25-35 children in foster care at one time. It allows the prospective parents to go beyond just a photo and biography and actually meet the child. Getting to see a child and prospective parent connect is the most rewarding aspect of the job!
How did you decide to come full-circle and help other children in the foster care system?
Throughout middle school and high school I carried a lot of hostility and animosity. I couldn't understand why I had to endure all of the pain that I did. I set my mind to becoming nothing like my biological parents. So I started off my college career as a pharmacy student. I wanted to make a lot of money and be successful on my own. During my sophomore year I started to change mindsets and realized that I didn't want to have a job based on money. I wanted to do something to change lives. I initially thought about law school, but instead chose sociology because that was the closest thing Butler offered to social work. Giving back to the system has been a goal since I changed my major. I know that many people have negative feelings about "the system" and DCS, but it saved my life. And while I can never repay that, I can help teens and youth who are in the same place I was just ten years ago! Many people have the misconception that they can't change the lives of teens in foster care, but that couldn't be further from the truth. These teens not only want families, but can thrive with families. I wouldn't be who I am today if my mom hadn't taken a chance and adopted me at the age of 13.