WASHINGTON, July 17, 2016 – The sudden sight of blood made me quizzy. My heart sunk. My lips quivered. My legs turned rubbery. Artificial blood on television was one thing. Real blood, up close and personal, was gut-wrenching…simply traumatic.
The girl being wheeled out on the gurney was named Jasmine. She appeared to be in shock. The white sheet covering her was a horrifying kaleidoscope of, not colors, but various patterns splotched across her midsection in deep red.
I paused as my eyes followed her limp form to the ambulance that awaited her a short distance away. It was at that moment that I turned and asked in disbelief, “What happened?”
Ms. Jean, my favorite house mother, came over to where I stood. Calmly, and with a soft voice, she filled me in. Jasmine had had a miscarriaged.
What? I thought and probably uttered.
Yes, she was pregnant and no one seemed to know anything about it. It was a well kept secret. If anyone knew in advance, it was her best friend, and roommtae, Christy. But she was not admitting to anything.
Over the next twenty-four hours we were interviewed by our staff, police, and a Child Protective Investigator. They wanted to know who she was sleeping with and when did she find the time to sleep around.
They wanted answers, answers I did not have. Sure, I talked to her occasionally but when I did, only cordially.
Again, I reminded them that Christy was her best friend. Perhaps she knew something. As tragic as this was, I just wanted to be left alone.
Five days later, we were still being questioned by people we had never seen before. Every agency you could imagine seemed to take an interest in this incident. Even the media.
Nervousness and anxiety permeated the air. Our staff was walking on egg shells. The girl’s mother was threatening to sue the state for letting her daughter get pregnant. Jasmine was only fifteen years old. In a month she would be sixteen.
Physically, she had the mature body of a twenty-one year old.
Unlike in the old days, Ms. Jean used to tell me, girls today were developing rather early in adolescence. Most started their menstural cycles at the age of eleven.
Many were filled out by fifteen, meaning they could pass for legal age.
Jasmine was alive and well and fully recovered, we were told three weeks later. Where she was, that they did not tell us.
One thing was for certain, she never returned to our group home.
From the onset, an official investigation was launched, leaving some of the staff in a state of limbo. They knew that they were going to be made a scapegoat and some of them were going to be fired. It was two weeks away from Christmas and no one wanted to be let go during the holiday season.
But life had to go on. And they were still on the clock. For now, they had a job to do.
Whatever the outside pressures were on the staff members, they did not show it during our annual Christmas Party. We played games, listened to holiday music, ate freshly bought pizza and bread sticks and drank ice cold refreshing drinks.
Finally, we exchanged gifts.
I opened mine and discovered, to my complete delight, that someone had given me a mug with my name printed on it. TRISH it read in bold letters. This was a wonderful pollyanna gift and I thanked whomever it was that purchased it for me.
But none of us were through, yet. People from across the county had donated gifts to us. There was more to open. Much more. Altogether, we each received eight wrapped gifts and lots of clothes and personal care products.
When we thought we were through, two of the house mothers appeared from the lounge area carrying a large gifted-wrapped box. They were dressed as Santa’s helpers. Both looked cute in their red and white furry outfits; short skirts and black nylon stockings included.
Our curiosity was really getting the best of us. We traded stares and giggled senselessly. None of us could sit still.
Opening the box, Santa’s elves passed out smaller gift-wrapped boxes to each one of us. The moment the gift touched a hand, that hand immediately went to work unfastening the wrapping on it. What we saw had us all jumping up and down with joy,
Some national foundation had given each one of us our very own IPad in various colors. I could not stop jumping or stop thanking the Almighty. Hot tears were streaming down my face. This was the best Christmas I had ever had, bar none.
For that special period in time, I did not mind being in a group home. The Christmas tree, the Christmas music, and all of those wonderful gifts, were overwhelming. We cried. Even the lesbians had tears cascading down their faces.
For all of the joy that I felt, I still missed my baby brother.
Five days into the New Year, we were told to meet in the lounge for a special meeting. We were given three minutes to find our way there. The rumor circulating around was that this had something to do with Jasmine and her miscarriage.
Now, that was a name that had not been spoken around here in weeks.
I was there in one minute, front and centered and seated on the carpeted floor. I wanted to know what this was all about. Personally, I thought this matter was over with. Boy, was I wrong.
Ms. Viola, another one of my favorite house mothers, stepped forward and spoke to us. Yes, this was about Jasmine…
To be continued….
CS Bennett – Author of Court Ordered Custody and its sequel Court Approved Custody, both books are about life in Florida’s state foster care system. Both books can be found on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble Online Bookstore.