A Northern Territory man who ran away from 15 foster carers as a teenager said he fell into a life of crime and homeless because of the failings of the child welfare system.
The witness, identified as CJ, told the child protection royal commission he longed to live with people from his own indigenous culture.
CJ, who is currently in an adult jail, is angry and confused that he was never given a chance to stay with other relatives who he believed were willing to take him in.
"You don't just get taken away from your family out of the blue and expect to adapt," he wrote in a statement tendered to the inquiry on Wednesday.
"I don't think I would have become the person I am... if I didn't go into care."
CJ had been in and out of Darwin's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and was forced to live on the streets in between foster homes while doing crimes to "look after" himself.
CJ, who has ADHD, was happy when he first arrived at Don Dale, stating "it was mad having family around, but everyone started graduating to big jail."
By the time he turned 16, CJ took off to Adelaide to live independently with his mates, but soon developed depression and an alcohol addiction.
CJ said he was never given enough opportunities to see his parents and brothers while in care.
"Just the idea of being with family would have helped me I think, because I would have felt like I belonged," he said.
"And if they couldn't find family, I would have at least liked to have been with Aboriginal people."
Currently around nine out of 10 NT children in out of home care are Aboriginal, but only about 25 per cent of those kids are placed in kinship care.
Senior counsel assisting the inquiry Peter Morrissey SC labelled this as "abysmally low", considering NT law requires priority to be given to extended families and the broader Aboriginal community when children are separated from their parents because of abuse or neglect.
"We would like those numbers to be much higher," Territory Families Out of Home Care Acting Executive Director Marnie Couch said.
"Every child deserves to be in kinship care where possible... where it doesn't compromise their safety."
Ms Couch said her department was working hard to recruit more kinship carers through a marketing campaign in five different languages, while also consulting families, local service providers, community leaders and councils.
But Mr Morrissey suggested many potential candidates aren't coming forward due to an "endemic distrust" of the welfare department.