Every year, several classes at our local school participate in the Patriot’s Pen essay competition, which is sponsored by the VFW. Students are given a theme and write an essay on it, and then the local and regional VFW groups judge them. Winners of these levels can go on to state and national competition. This year’s theme was “What Freedom Means to Me.” Hannah did not win the competition, but she wrote from her heart, and I think she did an amazing job. A few friends asked if she would share her essay. She agreed, so I’m posting it here for her.
One thing that may not be clear if you haven’t heard Hannah or the boys talk about their experiences before – they had several really good foster families over several years, but the one they were with the longest (almost 4 years) was not so great. As time goes on, the kids reveal more and more incidents that illustrate how rough foster care was for them. They were removed from their biological family for good reason, but then the people who were supposed to do better continued the poor treatment.
What Freedom Means to Me
by Hannah, age 12
The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. That is freedom’s exact definition, but what freedom means to me has a whole other definition. Some people are born with all rights of freedom, while many people are not. Kids and adults all over the world are being forced to do things that are not of their choice. They don’t have freedom to have fun, dress how they want, or even stay with their family forever. This is where my life comes into play.
When I was 3 years old, I was put into foster care and was there until I was 9. That was definitely not freedom for me and my two younger brothers, who were in foster care with me the whole time and experienced almost all the same things I did.
When I was in foster care, I didn’t have the freedom to feed my brothers or help them when they were being hurt. What doesn’t help the matter is that they were too young to help themselves or really even understand, being an infant and 1 years old. We were not fed or treated well when we needed it. Now, I have freedom from those nightmares of my reality, because I was finally adopted by a family who feeds us and takes care of us properly.
Most people who haven’t experienced foster care and adoption don’t really understand all the freedoms that you lose and gain during the process of it all. People all around the world go through this with their dreams of freedom being crushed. Freedom is a special thing that you should cherish every moment of, because when it is gone, it could always be gone.
In conclusion, people should all have their freedoms in any way, without the judgment of others. People should have the freedom to stay with their families and not be traumatized. This all comes from my own experiences, which I think is horrible. But it is all OK now, because I have freedom!