"I am more than your labels."

Everyday In today's world, labels are placed. Whether it's a label placed due to your job, your ethnicity, or beliefs. We are label crazy as a society! When I was growing up, that's all I heard. Unfit. Misfit. Bad. Destined for prison. Needs special schooling. Worst behaved student I ever taught. If I described myself, I'd say misunderstood above all. If you're reading this chances are that may have been you too. It's so easy to accept those labels. More often than not kids buy into it. Right now as you read this, whether you're a foster kid or not. You have two choices. Buy into the stigma placed on you or become greater than. I chose the latter.

My brothers and I celebrating graduation

I'm going to fast forward my story to 6 year old Darren. Before that age things were foggy until things resurfaced later in life. I was moving from Westchester county to Rockland County. Man, I remember on that day the world seemed enormous. A fifteen minute drive over the Tappan Zee Bridge felt like a road trip across the country. I remember thinking "where the heck am I going?". 6 year old me with my black plastic bags filled with the little amount of stuff that I had. Starting school in a new environment, I was automatically placed in special ed. For a little while, I even had to go to a special school somewhere back in Westchester County. I felt like I didn't truly belong anywhere. The constant moving of placements and schools was frustrating mentally. Never knew what was temporary. Speaking of temporary, my first foster home in Rockland County was exactly that. After that, I moved in with the Morris family. I luckily found someone who would believe in me, forever. Growing up in my new adopted dad's house, I struggled with trusting anyone outside of him. In my mind, you had to earn respect to get respect. Teachers and other authority figures in my path didn't agree with that mindset. I was kicked out of three consecutive schools. I was brought to jails as apart of the scared straight program. Unfortunately, this wasn't televised. I remember having inmates screaming, and yelling in my face. I was young so I wasn't about to do nada! LOL.

In high school, it was more of the same old story. I think I was in the principals office or kicked out of class everyday. I truly just wanted to be left alone. Teachers that understood that, let me live. I behaved in those environments. I had too many teachers though unfortunately trying to be the hero and seeking breakthrough. I wasn't there for that. Low and behold I did graduate high school. They likely just wanted me out. HA! In majority of my surroundings, I was the misfit. The kid destined for jail. The kid never expected to become anything in society. Adults truly had a way of encouraging young Darren. In a twisted way, it worked. I wanted to prove everyone wrong. My dad had our family in church every week. I found the same sentiments in the church too! Seems like the only one who believed in me was my dad. He was truly all that I needed.

The journey to your success begins with believing in yourself. #MoreThanALabel

I'm now 27 years old managing for Starbucks Coffee Company. A worship leader at CrossLife Church. A GOOD father. A GROWING husband LOL! I think I'm doing okay. Ask my wife. Working on growing ' A Foster's Hope. Everyone painted their own picture of who I was and who I was going to be. In reality, my faith is what helped me grow but those labels motivated me. It drove me to prove all those people wrong. It wasn't something I did for them. Proving them wrong proved to myself I could do all I set my mind too. Outside of that, my family will always be my biggest motivation. I choose to be greater than the "parents" who birthed me. Greater than all the foster parents & adults who deemed me not good enough to believe in. So many say they believe in you but try to place you out of their environment. LOL Snakes in the grass!

If you ever find yourself at a crossroads in your life, stop & reflect. What do you want to become? Who do you want to become? Being a survivor of sexual and physical abuse I had two choices. Stay a victim, or become a victor. I will always choose victor. Victory is within your grasp. It all starts with a belief that you can be and deserve to be. You are more than a label. More than a statistic. If no one has said this to you, before allow me to. I believe in you! You are uniquely created to be great. It all begins with perspective and belief.

Sincerely, Yours Truly

Darren James Morris

I do this for every foster kid currently in the system & those who've aged out. Please share with anyone you may know who you feel this may bless & help. Foster kid or not! Thanks for reading! SHARE! SHARE! SHARE! Thanks for visiting A Foster's Hope.

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