AYLAJEAN MADSEN ROOT
Photos By: Deb Mitzel
Staying positive through foster care, losing a parent and addiction. I don't even know where to begin. Tell us about your challenges growing up and how you've managed to stay positive through it all.
Growing up I faced many challenges like you have acknowledged with foster care, losing my father, and have a mother with addiction to substance abuse. Honestly I did not manage it all that well for a long time. I was not always as positive as I am right now, there was a very dark period in my life for about 2 and a half years while I was moving around 6 different foster homes. During those years I was using unhealthy coping skills such as isolating myself, an eating disorder, and at one point I was even hospitalized for a suicidal attempt. However, about a year and a half ago I really started to find hope. I figured out that God would not have put me through the trials and triumphs unless he knew I could handle it and use it to help other people. I started using my experiences and strength by working for a non-profit organization called The Reel Hope Project that creates videos of waiting foster kids and brings them to churches to increase their chances of adoption. Now I use healthy coping skills to stay positive such as dance, music, art, physical activity, and lots of time spent outdoors to soak up the Vitamin D.
Tell us more about yourself.
My biggest passions in life are helping youth and creating art. Which is why I plan to be a high school art teacher and a foster parent to primarily teenagers when I grow up. I use to dream of taking on the career of a therapist, however during my Junior year of high school my plans changed. My junior year of high school my school experienced two tragic student deaths by suicide. During that time of mourning I realized that our teachers were more therapeutic to my peers and myself than the certified therapist my school brought in. I then realized that I can still be an unofficial therapist to youth and continue to fulfill my other passion of Art.
As I explained I also plan to be a foster parent. During my two and a half years in foster care I realized there is a desperate needs for foster parents, especially ones willing to love teenagers. There are very few homes in my community that take in and love teenagers in the foster system. There is a stigma about teenage foster kids being bad kids. Which breaks my heart. Foster kids are not bad kids, they are hurting kids that just need someone to give them unconditional love. Which I plan to do. Not only did I experience being one of those hurting and lonely teenage foster kids, but I met many others who were in homes with me.