WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2016 – My name is Patricia but I go by Trish. My world is controlled by a state run agency known as Child Protective Services. In some states this agency has been privatized. I live in one of its palatial group homes. Not really, but it is larger than my mother’s house.
Life in a group home is like some people serving a life sentence. It is a life of confinement and regulations. You cannot make snap decisions and just go. You have to get a court order for most events you want to attend and background checks on everyone involved. Who wants or needs the hassle?
I tried to forgive my mother for what she did to me by choosing her boyfriend over me. The reality is that she blamed me for her boyfriend’s overactive hormones the evening he came onto me. So, I ran away. I was eventually caught and placed where I am today by a judge.
Family members? Yes, there are a few in the area but none of them could pass a background check to take me in. What good are they? Two other family members were unable to care for me because of their old age and disabilities.
I often get to visit with mother and my brother, on what they call a supervised visit. But it is always at a public place, like a neighborhood park or fast food restaurant. This I insist. My case worker is always there with me. I never want to return to mom’s house as long as her boyfriend lives there.
The food is not bad here. We usually get leftovers from restaurants. We have a lounge and game room and a study. I do miss being home and talking and playing with my younger brother.
And I miss my father who died in Afghanistan. He was killed in a hellacious firefight. He was in the United States Army.
As for clothing, we get an annual clothing allowance and handouts from local charities. Few people know that we even exist. It has been one year since my arrival here. My mother’s parental rights are about to be terminated. She has shown no interest in having me returned home.
And yes, her boyfriend still resides with her. My brother has gotten into it with him a few times but nothing violent.
They just argue until my brother storms out of the house.
I am well into high school and have a boyfriend. His name is Javier. His parents came here from Puerto Rico. We have been dating for two months. I meet up with him between classes and we talk on the phone. He is never allowed to visit me at the group home, a place whose location is kept secret from the general public.
Yesterday I had my weekly one hour visit with my psychiatrist. We talked and went over current things happening in my life. We relate very well with one another. I also relate very well with my Child Protective Service case worker.
His name is Darnell.
Darnell is cool. He is so down to earth. He is not anything like my other case workers, many who came to visit with me once or twice a month and only spent five or ten minutes with me before they were off and running. None of them seemed to care about me or how I truly felt.
With Darnell, things are different. He really listens to me. I think he understands my situation because he told me he came up through the system. He is my driver, my protector, my advisor and my confidante. Many of my friends at the group home have told him that they wished he was their case worker.
There are times he is disappointed in me, though. Twice I have gotten into fights with Irene, the group home bully and lesbian. She claimed that I took something of hers and demanded that I give it back to her. I did not take anything of hers but knew who did but was not telling her that.
When she got in my face about it, her pointed finger touching my nose several times, well, that was going too far, so I struck her. It was on after that. Another time she accused me of getting too friendly with Jackie, her love interest at school. That ended up with us locking arms.
Our punishment was restriction and a loss of phone privileges for a set amount of time. Plus we missed out on a field trip scheduled that week.
Most of the house mothers were really cool but there was one who did not seem to care for me. She always picked on me. She always had something to say about my room, which I kept clean. I could not seem to do anything right in her eyes. I was happy when she transferred.
At my age, I am going through a lot of changes, both physically and mentally and emotionally. I cry at times, like many of the other girls, because we do not have the emotional support of a loving mother or father or aunt or uncle when dealing with the harshness of life.
On an emotional level, we are left to our own devices.
One day I received an horrifying phone call. My brother’s friend had been in a car crash with my brother in it. I did not know at the time of the call that he was all right but I cried after I hung up the phone. I never felt so alone and lonely as I did that night and at that moment.
Although the staff has to abide by strict policies concerning their interactions with us, Ms. Covington came over and hugged me and reassured me that everything was going to be fine. And it was, I later found out. But I was thankful to know she cared and did not mind expressing it.
It was difficult to do my school work in the study so I often retreated to my room to go over my assignments. Today was no different.
One girl, named Belinda, suffers from Tourette’s, which causes her to use profanity pointedly and in rapid bursts. My psychiatrist says it is caused by damage to the amygdala, a region of the brain that normally mitigates anger and aggression.
Because cursing is a form of verbal aggression, she told me that amygdala damage could result in one’s inability to control aggression, including verbal aggression, or cursing. Well, would you not know, but minutes earlier Belinda decided to go on a profanity rampage. That was when I went into my room and closed the door.
Apparently, she called somebody the wrong name, during her bout with Tourette’s, and got her butt whipped in a fight with the offended girl.
Later that evening, a girl named Vanessa came to my room to talk to me while my roommate was taking a shower. At some point in her conversation, she expressed how much she admired me and how pretty she thought I was.
Before I knew it, she was seated next to me, on the bed, and running her hand up and down my back and shoulder, and tenderly. Though it felt relaxing, and stimulating in a way, I gave her a puzzled look as she kept staring at me like some love sick puppy.
Before I could say anything, she leaned into me and kissed me on my lips. I was stunned! Totally shocked!
Inhaling, I backed away, and exclaimed……
To be continued….
CS Bennett – Author of Court Ordered Custody and its sequel Court Approved Custody is about life in the foster care system. Both books can be found on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore.