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Two Months Before My 18th Birthday is an interview with Angel-Lee Woolsey, who has two objects in "Lost Childhoods," an exhibit of Foster Youth Museum.
You have an unusual object in the museum. Can you tell me about it?
Yes, I donated a piece of Monopoly money with a phone number on it. When I was young, I lived in Mexico and my grandmother took care of me. Years later when things weren't going well, I talked with her by phone from the US. I knew my life was changing forever and had this feeling that I wasn’t going to speak with her again. I grabbed a piece of Monopoly money from my floor and wrote down her number. You’ll see it even has the country code for Mexico.
Why did you keep this paper for so many years?
I kept it with me because it was a reminder of the life I had before. It was a connection to the family I had before foster care and to my life before it changed completely. Oddly enough, I even memorized the number and to this day know it by heart. Once I donated the piece of paper to the museum, I felt a sense of letting go.
What do you want people to understand when they see your object in the museum?
I want people to know that you don’t have much in foster care and something so small can mean so much. This paper and phone number stand for connection and what’s possible.
You also have a photo in the museum.
Yes, that’s a photo of my adoptive mom and me. It was taken on the day of my adoption – two months before my 18th birthday.
Is it common for adoptions to take place at that age?
While I was in foster care and group homes, I was “D-rated,” which meant I was told I wouldn’t be placed because of “behavior problems.” But I was and my foster mom never gave up on me.
What do you mean by that?
No matter how much I tested her and all the crazy stuff I put her through, she never gave up on me. I got mad once and ran away and my social worker placed me back in group home. My foster mom visited and called every day for three months. She never missed a visit and she fought to have me back.
It seems like both the Monopoly money and the photo are about connection.
My adoptive mom said her home could be my forever home and she gave me her last name. I want people to know that connections can be made in foster care. It is possible to make a long lasting permanent connection – even as an older age.
(Interview with Angel-Lee Woolsey by Annie Gardiner)