I am Sam Blaylock from Portland, Oregon.
My mom got pregnant with me as an accident and then both my parents decided to abort me. Thankfully, the abortion failed. It led to me being born two months premature.
My dad was extremely abusive to my mother and it only got worse when I was born.
When I was around four years old, my parents decided to get divorced and my mom gave me up to my dad knowing he was abusive. My dad and I moved to Virginia and within six months, he decided to take me to Pakistan – where he was born and grew up. He then got married to my stepmom and left us there with his family.
I saw things a kid should never have to see and dealt with many abuses, including by teachers. I was forced to practice Islam.
However my stepmom and I created a bond and stuck together.
The family I was staying with controlled me a lot and I was not allowed to ever know anything about my birth mom or talk to her on the phone. I would find pictures of my mom laying around and get beat up for even asking who she was.
After a while, they did let me talk to her as my mom called the US embassy multiple times and they came to visit me. She wanted to make sure I was okay since the assassination of [former Prime Minister of Pakistan] Benazir Bhutto occurred nearby.
‘He beat her so badly her face gushed blood’
As a citizen of the United States, I could’ve returned anytime but my dad made sure that wouldn’t happen. After six years of hell – including dad cheating on my stepmom – he decided to bring my stepmom and I back to Virginia, United States.
I, at the time, thought of my dad as a hero and an amazing person. That changed right away as his true colors started coming out as he started abusing my stepmom.
I remember one incident where he beat her so badly her face gushed blood. I saw everything and I had to go to school the next day and stay silent.
My dad would definitely pick on me for being feminine and bullied me because of it. I experienced a lot of racism at school.
I felt so alone.
This continued until I was around 12 when we had to move. We lived in an apartment and this was where the abuse started being directed towards me. I was becoming a teenager and started portraying more ‘feminine’ traits.
One incident that is forever marked in my brain is when things got so bad, my stepmom attempted suicide. No authorities were contacted. Ever.
My birth mom and I fought to keep in contact – we were allowed to talk for 15 minutes on the phone every Sunday.
My mom decided to send me an iPad for my birthday and with that, my life changed because of a single device. I started video chatting my mom daily behind my dad’s back and started to discover life outside of my isolated existence. I started to realize nothing my dad was doing was normal.
‘He choked me because I was watching videos of people online who had “gay” accents’
I also started discovering my sexuality and who I was.
But then my dad went through my iPad and found out I’d been talking to my mom and that I was watching a lot of YouTubers who ‘sounded gay’ to him.
He also choked me because of people I was watching online who had a ‘gay’ accent and the fact that I’d made many discoveries about my birth mom’s side of the family.
I forced my dad to call my mom and said I didn’t want to live with him any longer. I told my dad I was going to call the cops and so he called my birth mom. My biological grandpa booked me a ticket to fly from Virginia, back to Oregon so I could live with my mom.
I felt a type of freedom.
I was super excited but stressed because my dad wasn’t making up his mind officially. He agreed to letting me go but the day before the flight he said: ‘Did you actually think I was gonna let you go?’
I shut down completely. I got in contact with my mom’s side of the family and my aunt called my dad begging him and convincing him. He finally said yes and the next day I was off.
My only problem: I didn’t want to leave my stepmom with him. But sometimes you need to just take care of yourself. My stepmom cried a lot that day as I was all she had.
I arrived in Oregon at my grandma’s house where I lived when I was a baby. I thought life was finally gonna get better and I definitely was happy for a period… until my mom’s mental illness got worse.
My mom emotionally and mentally abused me and would pretty much blame me for being born.
We constantly argued and the rest of the family knew she was severely mentally ill and that she couldn’t take care of me but their excuse was ‘She’s your mother.’
‘I cut my whole arm’
Things got so bad to the point where one night I self harmed for the first time badly.
I cut my whole arm and I do not remember much from that night. Prior to this, my mom actually went to DHS (Department of Human Services) for financial stability because she couldn’t find a job because her illness and was living off of housing [benefits].
She mentioned stuff about her abusing me. DHS kept an eye on us and when the night I self harmed, my mom found out the next day and called the cops.
An ambulance came and I felt ashamed. That’s when DHS got involved officially. They tried everything – every type of therapy to help my relationship with my mom but she just didn’t wanna put in the work as much I did.
The rest of the family blamed me, guilted me, and pressured me to get rid of DHS. They said pretty much everything I said and did was my fault.
I fell into the depression I still suffer from now. The last night I lived with my mother, she chased me with a knife and I didn’t wanna call the cops or my therapist because of my biological family’s guilt.
I called my grandma and she said to ignore it and just go to bed. My mom was only getting more and more intense and she cut me by accident while waving the knife around.
I called my therapist and left her a message. The cops came and checked her fingerprints which matched the knife but I panicked because I didn’t wanna get her in trouble and said everything was fine and the cops left.
‘He forced me to give him a blowjob’
The next day at school, DHS picked me up as they decided it was not safe for me to live with my mom. I was so confused and had absolutely no idea what was going on. So I was placed with a foster home that was known for being an extremely safe environment.
I didn’t know if it was temporary, I didn’t know anything.
I started to get used to it and shared a room with my foster brother who I thought I’d created a bond with but he was just grooming me. One night he tried to rape me. He forced me to give him a blowjob and I didn’t want to, of course.
I was 13 and he was 14 but he was way stronger physically than me and he choked me. When I got the chance, I pushed him away and ran out of the room and went to my foster parents.
I didn’t tell them anything because I was so afraid. I felt like it was my fault because I personally liked to sleep with the door shut, but he took advantage of that. He told me that I’d only stay in foster care longer if I told anyone about the incident and I believed him.
I hated the foster home and just wanted to be out of there.
I just wanted to be with my grandparents. My grandparents loved me and they fought because they didn’t want me living with some random people. They got approved for foster care way faster than expected and took me in on thanksgiving 2014.
Once again, I felt freed and I didn’t have to live with my mom and I was temporarily happy. That was when I officially discovered that I was gay. That’s when the self blaming came through. I thought the incident at the foster home was my fault and maybe it happened for a reason to make me realize I was gay.
‘Coming out was not an option’
I lived with humiliation on the daily.
Coming out was also not an option as my whole family were strict Muslims and I knew they’d disown me.
DHS was still involved and tried to help my relationship with my mom but it kept failing. They were still my support system and I always told my caseworker everything.
I tried to drop hints to my family that I was gay and they kept dropping hints that they wouldn’t approve. I wasn’t allowed to wear as much as a necklace without being yelled at.
During this time, I bonded with my aunt (the same aunt that convinced my dad) but she did manipulate me and made me feel guilty for everything. One day at the beach, I trusted her enough to come out to her.
Her face dropped and she ‘accepted’ me. She started saying things like: ‘Maybe it’s a phase – I’ve had a lot of friends experience their bi phase’ or ‘Just pretend guys are girls and you’ll automatically turn straight.’
I stopped trusting her.
I continued talking to my caseworker and met a guy named Jefferson who worked for a non profit LGBTI organization.
He would visit me every week at my school to make sure I was alright. My caseworker asked him if he knows anyone that could take me in. She wanted to find an actual safe environment, as she was struggling to find me one.
He told her his friends just got married and he would talk to them.
The day my life changed forever
One day my caseworker texted me: ‘Don’t make plans tomorrow – I’m coming over.’ I thought nothing of it because she visited all the time.
Then she asked me to pack because we were gonna go out. Halfway through the drive, she told me she was dropping me off to Josh and Adam’s (my dads’) house.
My family was worried because I never came back and my caseworker explained the situation to them. My family thought I’d planned this whole thing and felt betrayed, but I had no idea.
During this time, my aunt outed me to the whole family.
The next day I went back to my biological family’s house to pick up all my stuff. They didn’t allow my foster dad Josh to enter the house because he was gay. They all surrounded me and yelled at me, saying the most hurtful things.
That night was absolutely terrible.
But now I had gay dads. It was supposed to be temporary but the minute I walked in to their house, it felt like I was supposed to be there this whole time. They felt the same.
I started to experience feelings I never had before such as unconditional love and family.
‘Family is not always about blood’
My gay dads have been one of the best things to ever happen to me. It’s made me realize how important family is when it’s not abusive.
I also learned family is not always about blood. My dads and I struggle sometimes like any other family but one thing that has made our relationship so healthy is the power of communication.
The Blaylock family is known for its communication, forgiveness, and moving on. Family is forever.
My biological family loved drama, never talked about anything and only cared about reputation and saving face. My biological grandma has still not told anyone that I’m in foster care because people would ask questions and destroy her reputation.
After a very long fight in the court for about five years (how long I’ve been in foster care) I finally was adopted. I am now able to do everything I’ve ever wanted that was taboo in my biological family.
I’m proudly and openly gay. I also love makeup and doing drag.
I’m becoming myself daily.
‘Just because my past was rough doesn’t mean my future has to be too’
On the day of the official adoption, there were a lot of tears and joy everywhere. The whole Blaylock family came and the courthouse was full.
I will say I definitely still suffer from PTSD, depression and anxiety. Everyday is a battle and maintaining relationships is hard. I overthink and get paranoid.
What saved me is my dads of course. Anyone can save anyone with the power of love.
I was lucky to have a great team of people such as my beloved caseworker, who made sure I got what I wanted.
It feels like, to me, the foster system never really cares for the kids and just treats them like a toy, snatching them from homes just to put them in more homes that are abusive. I’ve got to know so many foster kids who don’t have success stories like mine.
Without love, these kids end up doing drugs, and getting into legal trouble because they don’t know how to cope.
I don’t look at my life as a depressing story, I look at it as an inspiring story. Because of my experiences, I’m super passionate about making a change in the system.
I’m also a human rights activist. All of this just gave me empathy for people. As someone who was lucky, it is my duty to stand up for all of these kids.
I am one of the luckiest people alive but that’s also because I never gave up.
My motivation during the whole entire time in the system and experiencing abuse was getting good grades. Just because my past was rough doesn’t mean my future has to be too. I learned that I have control over my future and I can’t do anything about my past.
In the future, I want to make as many changes as I can and I want to share my story.
My past has given me the greatest gift of life – empathy for others. Though I struggle with mental health, I work hard and am excited to see what the future holds for me.