An Indiana foster youth has been recognized with a national award from the Department of Health and Human Services. Joshua Christian will receive the Adoption Excellence Award in Washington D.C. this month. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Jill Sheridan sat down to talk to him about how a caseworker turned parent helped direct his success.
Jill Sheridan: Talk a bit about having that person in your life at that point, that really was a mentor to you, before he became your father and what that really meand and how that started to turn your life around.
Joshua Christian: Growing up through care, I've had tons of people invest their time in me through guidance counselors, coaches in athletics. They were all supports that were shifting but when my dad came into play as my case manager, he was consistent. And he stayed in my life and I would go to him for any type of advice and it really made me feel secure as a person because I knew I had someone to go to.
Sheridan: You were able to graduate from high school and you're in college, what are you studying?
Christian: I'm studying psychology in college and I'm going to get a concentration in social work. After college, I'd like to be a lobbyist and change policy for kids in the child welfare system.
Sheridan: Talking about policy, you were able to present a recommendation to the state's Commission for Improving the Status of Children. What was that recommendation?
Christian: The recommendation was to extend services from age 21 to 23 for foster care youth in Indiana.
Sheridan: Do you think that's a great need in Indiana?
Christian: Absolutely. There are tons of kids aging out of care without homes and after the age of 21 they don't really have any support.
Sheridan: You've worked with an organization called Indiana Connected by 25. What has this organization been able to help you do?
Christian: Connected by 25 has helped me to grow as a person and really discover what being an advocate is for myself.
Sheridan: Is there something as far as the system goes, that has been really difficult for you as a kid, growing up in Indiana.
Christian: One of the challenges I faced as a child growing up in the child welfare system was sometimes leaving from one home to another with just a trashbag and some items in it. Another challenge is just moving into a stranger's house. When you do that sometimes it's just assumed that you will fit in and know the rules right away so you just kind of put on this mask to survive for a little bit.
Sheridan: A lot of children that go through the system and have the experiences you've had, it's very difficult. Has there been something from your experiences that you feel has really made you stronger?
Christian: From my experiences and building myself back up, my faith has played a lot in this. Just looking to Christ as another consistency in my life.
Sheridan: With this award, what does that mean to you to be able to be recognized for the work you're doing?
Christian: I'm very excited and honored to receive this award. In the advocacy world you are advocating a lot and just seeing recognition for it is pretty awesome. And it will be a nice time to meet others that are doing the same thing just like me.
Joshua Christian who will be honored in Washington D.C. during National Adoption Month.