Cozy up with a good book this fall: Someone Has Led This Child to BelieveRegina Louise’s unflinching, unforgettable true story of overcoming neglect in the US foster-care system, is the memoir you’ve been waiting for. 

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Called “revealing and much needed” by Booklist, Louise’s latest memoir is a remarkable story about courage, determination, and renewal. From her beleaguered adolescence in the foster-care system to her long-awaited reunion with the woman whom she’d been closest to during her fragmented childhood, Louise sheds light on her own experience growing up in (and aging out of) the US foster care system, and the many ways that system failed her. The result is a rich, engrossing account of one abandoned girl’s efforts to find her place in the world, people to love, and people to love her back.

Louise’s passion and fervor rings clear in the following interview, where she discusses her evolution as a writer, the difficulty of revisiting past traumas, and the indestructible nature of the human spirit.

 

Q&A with Regina Louise, author of Someone Has Led This Child to Believe

Do readers need to have read your first book, Somebody’s Someone, to understand Someone Has Led This Child to Believe?

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Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, it’s probably best that readers enjoy Someone Has Led This Child to Believe as a stand-alone piece. Although both memoirs address experiences that characterized the conditions that shaped my childhood, each, in its own way, serves a different purpose. Somebody’s Someone is a testimony to the misdeeds and negligent attitudes of the people in whose charge I was left, and it’s an indictment of my own recklessness and the unconscious ways I—unwittingly—made life harder for myself as a child. Someone Has Led This Child to Believe traces my childhood to the present through the lens of love: how it blossomed when I first met Jeanne and the trajectory of that love afterwards.

This book is much more introspective and reflective, written from a more informed sense of craft and personal responsibility. I understood my own journey better in writing Someone Has Led This Child to Believe, and I am much better able to articulate a fuller story with empathy for others and deep self-compassion.  

Your life story thus far is being turned into a movie with Lifetime. Was there a particular scene from Someone Had Led This Child to Believe that was surreal or emotional to see recreated on set during filming? Can you tell us about what it’s like to see your story on screen?

Oh, dear. Yes. There were so many scenes in the film that were surreal to see play out. One particular scene that stands out from filming is when Jeanne (Ginnifer Goodwin) is teaching Regina (Angela Fairley) to swim for the first time. The scene is charged with the tensions of the times—racism, discrimination, and outright disdain for these two human beings moving forward with love—and it was difficult to recall the soul-wounding and psychic injury the behavior of others impressed on me as a child. However, to see the way the Jeanne character protects her charge, the girl who is slowly being born of her heart, on screen reminded me of the ways Jeanne’s love had the power to show the young me that I was indeed worthy of protection. Those were ideals worth fighting for then, and now.

The movie really is an adaptation of Someone Has Led This Child to Believe, and I feel like my story—the book and the movie—has a sense of timelessness to it that I believe is worth its weight in gold.   

Your book deals with so many painful experiences. Were there any parts that were particularly challenging to revisit?

Writing about my womb-mother was particularly challenging, mainly because I’m certain the chance for us to get to know one another and perhaps engage in courageous and radical conversations is gone. Thank the Lord I got me some education and deep personal healing because it has helped me elevate my perspective from victim to victor.

I now better understand the historical conditions that aided and abetted not only my mother’s failure but also the generational underachievement and lack of opportunities that is synonymous with being born black. As I state in my book, I am grateful for the journey—it has given me the privilege to transform my devastation into my motivation.

What do you hope readers will take away from Someone Has Led This Child to Believe?

The indestructible nature of the human spirit, and the importance of keeping one’s solemn vow—especially to one’s self.

If there was one thing you wanted the general public to know about the US foster-care system that they may be unaware of, what would it be?

That it’s a business with the intention of parenting children from the outside in. This is done by way of professional surrogates who may or may not know how to connect with a child according to that child’s style of attachment or the true context of that child’s lived experiences. Doing so means the surrogate would tailor their care according to variables such as the child’s class, culture, race, religious practices, and gender identifications, to name a few. This is not by any means to say that these considerations are not factored into the equation as best as can be in terms of recruitment and training of prospective resource families (foster parents, fost-to-adopt families, kinship caregivers, etc.), but organizations have budgets, and it can become problematic if and when a child’s healing trajectory is directly affected by that budget. When this is the case, both the resource family and the child get the short end of the stick by not receiving all of the support and resources that bolsters a family’s ability to provide the child with what is needed at the time the need is present.

What advice would you give to a child currently in the system or who has just aged out? Is there anything you wish you could have told your younger self?

That’s another book in and of itself! Allow your imagination to be in service to you. Think and dream about the places you want to go and the people you’d like to see and ask for support to make it a reality. Make friends. Insist upon it. Learn social skills that have cache to them and pleasantries that are scalable—people love you with manners. Learn why social proclivities are the way they are, and learn how to best use them to navigate social situations. Learn the value of saying “thank you”—that can go a very long way. Practice patience and loving kindness with yourself. And if you don’t understand anything I’ve suggested, look it up online or reach out to me and I’ll assist you. My new website (www.iamreginalouise.com) is live now!

What’s next for you?

Book three. More coaching. Maybe a PhD. Maybe a television show where I am coaching people into their highest and greatest version of themselves. Maybe a professorship. I’m open.