Shanna Red’s Legally Branded is a hard read. Growing up in a family of dysfunction and addiction, Red was shuffled around from foster family to foster family. As a young adult, the author eventually struggled with addiction herself, however, through it all she was able to overcome the obstacles she faced in her life and was able to put pen to paper to document her outcome in this powerful memoir.
How did you come up with the title?
I came up with the title Legally Branded because being award of the state is legal and DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] branded me as a failure and so did everyone I knew.
Your book tells a harrowing tale of survival in the foster care system. How do you think, as a community, we can make it better?
The community can make a difference by getting to know “the forgotten” foster children and ask about their well- being. Build more centers to make foster kids feel like they belong to something.
What is your relationship like with your biological family?
My relationship with my family is estranged because we’ve lost too many years that we can’t communicate with each. Each of us has memories of our separation in which we’ve suffered.
What is your relationship with your foster parent(s)?
Most of the foster parents that I had I never kept in touch with them because I figured that once I left, my relationship was over with them. They didn’t want to see me again, and I sure didn’t want to see them. There is one foster parent that I stay in touch with daily because she was different. This particular foster parent was concerned about my relationship with my biological mother. She used to tell me to stop being angry with my mother because she probably thought she left me and my brother in good hands. She also told me that my mother didn’t know how to be a parent and not all women weren’t meant to be parents. With all this said to me by only one foster parent, I took a strong interest in her and as a result, we have a relationship like family.
What was the turning point for you?
One day at work I took a long look at myself in the mirror and thought, either I stop doing drugs or suffer the consequences of my past for the rest of my life, so I enrolled in a GED class and took my education further.