WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2016 – We sat, some on large cushioned sofas, others on the thick-carpeted floor, and listened intently as Ms. Viola, one of our house mothers, gave us an update on our former resident, Jasmine.
Jasmine had had a miscarriage weeks earlier. She was only 15 years old. No one, except possibly her roommate Christy, knew the identity of the guy who contributed to the pregnancy.
As a result, she was placed at another location unknown to us. A major investigation was initiated almost immediately.
In the interim, the girls’ mother was threatening to sue the State of Florida for negligence. Many of our staff members were weary. No one wanted to get fired over this.
We were told law enforcement had discovered the identity of the person responsible for the pregnancy. It was a freshman college student Jasmine had been sneaking off to see during her school lunch break.
How she managed this was being looked into. She was obviously skipping one of her classes.
The bottom line: Since Jasmine’s forbidden trysts were conducted while she was under school supervision, our staff members were no longer at risk of being let go.
Her lover, the culprit, was eventually arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and for having a sexual relationship with a minor, one under the jurisdiction of the courts.
Although we were not even close to being pregnant, we were still read the riot act. They did not want us to find ourselves in a situation like Jasmineis.
With somber expressions, we returned to our previous activities. Of course, the topic of discussion was Jasmine’s affair and the trail of uncertainty it left behind.
That night Ms. Covington braided my hair as we sat and watched a movie.
The following day at school, I sat talking to Javier, my boyfriend, while at lunch. He had the cutest smile and the most endearing of Hispanic accents. His dark Latin eyes were piercing and hypnotic. I could stare into those dreamy eyes for days without blinking.
After we ate, we went outside to sit under the warm Florida sun in the break area. The rays of the sun felt good in the cool January air. Needing to talk to his science teacher about an important project, my handsome heartthrob took off.
Seconds later, two of my home girls joined me to talk. We had become a close-knit group. Our friendship and antics went beyond the walls of the group home.
We were singing and goofing around, just having a good time, when a commotion broke out a distance away and caught our attention. It suddenly turned into a physical altercation involving four or five girls against what appeared to be one.
Whoever the girl was, she was putting up a good fight considering the odds she was up against. It was a down and ugly scrap, no doubt. And I don’t think she was getting the worst of it either.
We were shocked, to say the least. Our shock soon turned to outrage when we discovered that the girl that had been jumped was Belinda, our friend who suffered from Tourette’s. She must have had a bout of profanity with one or two of them before they teamed up on her.
We knew she was a misfit, but she was our misfit and we were not going to allow anyone else to abuse or mistreat anyone of us. One on one was one thing. What we were witnessing was outright unfair.
Leaping up, the three of us rushed over to Belinda’s aid. It was on once we joined the fray. We put a country whipping on them they would likely remember for life. An eternity later, five or six teachers’ aides and two resource officers pulled us off the five girls.
After the brawl, we found ourselves sitting outside of the principal’s office. One by one, we were escorted into her office and questioned. We were admonished and given in-school detention.
It was a long ride back to the group home, no doubt. The four of us, including Belinda, did not exchange a word. We dreaded facing Ms. Boston, our stone-faced administrator. She could be mean as any Marine drill sergeant. We could see ourselves getting chewed out and awarded two to three weeks of restriction and extra chores.
To our surprise, she went easy on us. We only got two days of restriction and no chewing out. She said she was moved by what we did, going to the defense of one of our own who was being brutally attacked.
Even more surprising, she encouraged us to continue to look after one another.
That night I went to bed with a smile on my face. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like I was a part of a loving and caring family….
To be continued….
CS Bennett — author of Court Ordered Custody and its sequel Court Approved Custody. Both books are about our forgotten children and life in Florida’s state foster care system. Both can be found on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore.