This is Emma Crum's college application essay on how being a foster sister has changed her. Reprinted with permission.
I walked into my house after a normal day at school and was greeted by a tiny Hispanic boy holding a Spider-Man flashlight. He was trying to tell me the flashlight was broken, but he was three years old and bilingual, which made it hard for me to understand him. My mom introduced me to him, Alex is his name. And from that day forward he's impacted my life in ways I never thought possible. He's the kid that worried more about his broken Spider-Man flashlight than the burn blisters on his tiny, chubby hands or the scar that lined the back of his head.
I've learned so much being a foster sister and have grown in ways I didn't know possible. My family has cared for 7 foster children over the course of a few years, and it has molded me into the person I am proud to be today. Being a foster sister has taught me compassion, sacrifice, and humility. Being a part of the foster care system has exposed me to things I would have never experienced otherwise. It has allowed me to walk alongside perfect strangers through their hardships to rebuild relationships and families. I have learned the importance of family. Not only did I gain compassion for the children we took in but also for the parents or guardians of these children.
Most are stuck in a vicious cycle of abuse and were never shown how to love others. It may seem impossible to find kindness for the abusers but the only way to trump the hate they are living in is to show them love.
Sacrifice is no stranger when caring for foster children. As a 13 year old I had to start learning how to deal with sacrifice. I shared my house, my parents' attention, and my free time to make these kids feel at home. I would spend my evenings preparing a pair of twins for bed or maybe reading a bedtime story to an angry 6 year old that only wanted to see his absent mother.
I cherish these times because they are life experiences I couldn't get anywhere else. I find joy in serving others, and being a foster sister gave me the opportunity to think less about myself and give myself to others. You have to make sure the kids are fed before you, their clothes are clean for daycare, and they have their bath before bed. It's hard putting other people before yourself but it really makes you a better person.
Overall, I wouldn't trade my experiences as a foster sister for anything. I have grown many beautiful relationships out of it, helped people rebuild their families, and become a more compassionate, sacrificial, and humble person.