At what age did you become an adult?
I remember the exact moment that I realized my childhood was over. I was fifteen and my parents had just been sentenced to prison for what will most certainly be the remainder of their lives. If I had been thinking clearly at the time I would have realized that my childhood actually ended at the age of twelve when I first entered the foster care system and bounced from home to home. But although I was no longer a child I definitely wasn’t an adult by any means. It was as if I had become trapped in a very strange “in-between” area of life; not yet an adult but presented with the challenges that adults face on a daily basis. All of the sudden I was on my own with little to no knowledge about how the real world worked or how to go about doing basic things such as paying bills.
After my parents were sentenced our landlords at the time evicted us. Like – immediately. We came home from the sentencing to find the eviction notice. Thirty days didn’t leave us with much time to find a new place to rent. Nobody was very keen on the idea of renting to a few teenagers with very little money between them. I remember how my brother and sister would try to dress older an nicer and try to act older whenever we went to look at the rental houses and apartments. But time and time again it all came back to one question. Where were our parents? Eventually we did find a landlady willing to rent to us, and in a few weeks after the move I got a job at an ice cream shop. When I realized how quickly a minimum wage check spends I got a second job at a pizza place. Still it wasn’t enough and we soon became four months behind on rent. Those first few years were very hard and unforgiving. People can be cruel and at times apt to dismiss you sooner than they are to give you an honest chance.
I was not an adult at 12 or 15, but I was most definitely not a child either. I don’t know when I finally grew up. I just know that at some point I stopped feeling as if I was invisible. At some point I realized I didn’t hnave to work two jobs anymore. At some point I didn’t feel as awkward around my peers (although I’m still working on that one). At some point I leanred how to stop holding my breath for a resolution to the past, and began dreaming of my future and living in the present.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.