INDIANAPOLIS — When something bad happens to us, we often want to shut it out and not talk about it.
However, Takkeem Morgan is taking his story of hardships and separations and using them to inspire other foster youth and get more people involved in foster care.
"When I was 10 years old, I was removed from my mom's home along with my three other siblings, and we were placed in foster care," he said.
Morgan was in the foster care system until he aged out at 18 from kinship care to congregate care, foster care and group homes. He was in kinship care, congregate care, a group home and foster care. He said he lived in at least six different homes in eight years.
Separated from his siblings, the big brother lost his identity.
"My identity since I was probably seven or eight years old was wrapped around being the older brother, so at the point we were removed from each other, we were separated from each other, that was very, very rough," Morgan said.
But he said their situation made him work so much harder.
"I think because I had younger siblings that were in the system and weren't aging out, I need to go chart the path and that's how I sort of saw myself and saw the challenges. OK, you need to chart a path for younger siblings," Morgan said.
Morgan went to Penn State University and earned a degree in marketing. He said it was all thanks to one adult taking the time to care about him.
"I will be honest with you. If it wasn't for that one caring adult, I think the trajectory of my life would have been different, so you know, one of my messages that I want to share is that one adult, one caring adult, can really make a difference in the life of a child," he said.
Now, Morgan uses his degree and experience to help other foster youth. Morgan was a fellow for Foster America during the pandemic and now manages the Foster Together Indiana campaign through Hands of Hope, an initiative in Lake County.
"What I'm doing now is I'm taking the time to use my story and my experience to be able to help others. That's a foster youth as well as caring adults who may be interested, but just not fully understand the space," he said. "I want to be an ambassador for the space, and I want to be a change-maker within this space."
And he has advice for any child in the system.
"Take the time to understand who you are at your core. Invest in yourself right because, at the end of the day, that's what's going to be most important," he said. "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react, so you really want to understand yourself and be able to decide how you're going to react to the 10% of life because that reaction is going to be your full life."
Where is the need greatest in Indiana?
In Indiana, 11,791 children were in the foster care system in April. These were the counties with the most children in the foster care system last month:
- Marion County: Nearly 2,600
- Allen County: 832
- Lake County: 675
- Madison, Vanderburgh and St. Joseph: more than 400
How can you help?
First, you can start the process to become a foster parent opening up your home to these kids.
But if you don’t think that’s for you there are dozens of ways you can get involved with foster care without becoming a foster parent.
You can join what’s called a Care Community through Hands of Hope. The minimum requirement is making one meal a month for a foster family, of course you can do more. Pay for a trip to the zoo, be a listening ear however much you can give.
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