Orphans of the Living

Every year, 200,000 teens in foster care \”age out.\” When they reach the age of eighteen, they lose assistance, and may be turned out onto the street with $50 and a couple of blankets.

Many former foster children, often homeless as children, experience homelessness as adults. As a quasi-survivor of this naive social machinery, I found myself on the street from time to time during the last thirty years. No one could help me put the pieces back together. Most therapists have no idea how to help those who have lost their families of origin or grown up in the homes of strangers, whose main concern was the housing of the body.

A network of former foster children is now being organized at the Berkeley Free Clinic by Michael Diehl and myself. The goals of the network are to help survivors of fosterage integrate the disconnected stages of development, better relate to our families of origin, and raise public awareness of the consequences of the foster system.

The Berkeley Free Clinic will provide a free drop-in peer-support conversation on the second Thursday of each month, 7 to 9 pm, beginning November 9, 2000. The clinic is located at 2339 Durant St., Berkeley.