Tonight is the final night of my 20 year old-ness. I, Heidi Street, will be an official grown-up. I’ll be of the American legal age to drink alcohol, and will be (hopefully) less likely to get ID’d when I purchase alcohol or painkillers.
But I’m already an ‘adult’ in the eyes of the law, right? I’ve been of the age of majority since I turned eighteen, been legally allowed to drink, smoke, vote, marry without parental consent, leave foster care. I can enlist into the armed forces (if I were not autistic or mentally ill).
I know the only other addition to my rights as of tomorrow is that I could adopt if I want to. At the moment, I’m at university, so I’m unable to adopt at this moment in time. Other than that, nothing will really change.
When you turn twenty, you stop being a ‘teenager’, but because of the society being used to the age of majority being 21, that’s when people start to truly see you as an adult.
Another point I’d like to make is about the new rules in certian local authorities with their ‘Staying On’ projects, when young people can stay with foster carers until they reach 21 years of age. I agree with this, although I think that even at 21, you are still not ready to leave home, these days, for various reasons, young people don’t leave home until their mid 20s, so to expect young people in care to live 100% independently at 18, or even 16 in some cases is completely abhorrent and wrong.
As I turn 21, I realise I’ve been failed by the system. And that something needs to be done about it.