Thankfully, the majority of us these days grow up in safe and secure homes, loved by our families and given all manner of opportunities through which to succeed in life.
Of course, not every child is so lucky. Some are, through no fault of their own, born into difficult circumstances. Some grow up in homes where strife and struggle are common place. Some, sadly, never get the blessing of a proper family to call their own.
When it comes to being put through the grinder as a youngster, few know the feeling better than Karlos Dillard, social media presence, comedian, and author.
According to Love What Matters, Karlos was born one of three sons in a family of six. Love was present in their home, but there was something else looming large over this family, and it wasn’t exactly a positive thing.
No, it turned out that Karlos’s father was in the illegal drugs business, and while the other aspects of their family life were pretty normal, the dad’s occupation naturally threatened the stability of things for the entire household.
So it was that one day Karlos’s father was arrested with marijuana and sent to jail. His wife – Karlos’s mom – took over the business, and would spend long stretches away from her children while she traveled on business trips.
As per Love What Matters, Karlos explained that during these times, things got dark indeed. Sometimes the electricity would cut out for lack of payment, while Karlos and his siblings would often go without food, too young to fend for themselves.
Perhaps worst of all, however, was the abuse Karlos and his brothers and sisters suffered at the hands of his mother’s lovers.
It wasn’t long before social workers became aware of the ongoing situation. The CPS in Michigan took Karlos and the others away from their family home – Karlos told how he then began a journey that would see him shifted between thirty different foster homes.
Fast forward to when Karlos was almost 11 years old, and it looked as though here might be a silver lining. A white couple had agreed to adopt him, and the little boy would have been forgiven for hoping that the trauma and trouble might be put behind him.
Sadly, Karlos, now 30 years old, looks back on that adoption as a mistake. He told Love What Matters that he was adopted for the wrong reasons, something that is hard to disagree with given the fact that his adoptive family basically gave up on him as soon as they had their own biological children.
Ultimately, they sent Karlos away when he was just 15. He wrote: “After my adoptive parents left me on the streets, I bounced from couch to couch with friends and ultimately ended up homeless.”
It was there, though, in the very pits of despair, that Karlos found how much resolve he truly had. Amazingly, he was able to obtain his GED before attending college. After that, he was in a better position to make something great for himself.
Not only that, but in college Karlos met his husband, Kristopher. Thanks to Kristopher’s help, Karlos was then able to reunite with his birth family.
Karlos explained: “This was one of the hardest conversations I have ever had in my life—asking my mother why she didn’t save me from foster care and holding her accountable for what had happened to me—but I did it. I had that conversation, she apologized, and we moved on, making many happy memories I will cherish forever. But like everything in my life, darkness was not far away from me and my family. After being reunified with my mom and siblings for almost 6 years, getting the opportunity to travel with them and visit Disney, my mom and my sister tragically died in a car accident.“
Karlos been through a hell of a lot in his life – at this stage it already feels as though he’s experienced more trauma than most people will ever have to.
Despite that, he’s a strong-willed, determined individual who has his heart and mind now set on making a difference. Karlos recently wrote his memoir ‘Ward of the State: A Memoir of Foster Care’, and has dedicated his life to helping others.
As he put it: “If you take anything from my story, I hope you take away that a child’s needs should be centered always in biological, foster, and adoptive families. Listen to children and listen to more than their words—listen to their behaviors and responses to adversity, it’s usually a call out for help. And lastly, know that adoption offers a different life, not a better life, and the option to not be in that legal relationship is a human right. Thank you for your time and always shine your light.”
My word, what an inspiring figure Karlos truly is.
I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties this young man has faced in his life. But despite all the hardships and struggles, Karlos remains dedicated to helping others and ensuring that they don’t ever have to go through what he did.
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