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Foster Care Speaker Advocates for Giving Youth a Voice

Why I Decided to Become a Foster Care Speaker

Image of Foster Care Speaker Nicole Zeien-Cox on stage.
Foster care speaker Nicole Zeien-Cox appears at the national conference in Houston, Texas.

Similar to my younger self, foster youth struggle with being heard. Being a byproduct of the foster care system and dysfunctional family dynamics, many youth struggle to have a voice. It wasn’t until my 20’s when I finally found my voice, inspiring me to give back to the foster care community as a foster care speaker. Having my background as a foster youth and at-risk teen, I felt that becoming a foster care speaker not only allowed me to inspire those coming after me but also allows me to be my true self. It’s important to me to reach other foster youth who are struggling with the same things I once did. If I had learned early on from a foster care speaker how to constructively express how I was feeling, it would have saved a lot of heartaches in my journey.

I was initially put into foster care at the age of 2 years old. After two different foster homes, I was adopted into my forever family. From the ages 2-5, I started to express my feelings with tantrums. I can remember my adoptive mom telling me I would lay on the floor for hours, screaming and crying. I knew at that age things weren’t how they should be, and I knew I had another family out there somewhere. The trauma I had endured so early on in life was starting to come out, even though I didn’t realize it being so young.

When I hit my teen years I began to struggle with my identity. I didn’t know who I was supposed to become, why what happened to me did, or how I could make myself feel complete. Even though I was blessed to be adopted into a loving family, I still felt like something was always missing. There was a void in my heart that nothing could fill. I ached to be with my birth family, even though they were complete strangers to me. Not knowing how to channel these emotions, I began to act out. As a teen, I was defiant, angry, and headstrong. I ran away from home, I was placed in a respite home for a week, a detention center for 13 days, and a foster care placement for 3 months.

During this time in my life, the exact thing I needed was someone who knew what I had been through and could share stories that would inspire me to think differently. A motivational foster care speaker would have inspired me to constructively express how I felt instead of acting out in anger. But unfortunately, I didn’t have that resource. I still made it, but it was a harder road than it needed to be so if I can fill that role as a foster care speaker for others then I’m ready to step up!

Overcoming the obstacles in my youth has made me the person I am today, and for that I am grateful. If it wasn’t for my past, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to become a foster care speaker. My journey has shown me I can make a difference. I can help foster youth find their voice, saving them from mistakes I’ve made. Becoming someone I needed when I was younger is why I became a foster care speaker.

If you are an event planner who works with foster youth, foster or adoptive parents, or any at-risk youth population I invite you to reach out to see if I might be a good fit for your event! You can fill out a booking form on my speaking page.

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