Since I was a young child, I resided in the home of my great- grandparents. My mother and father were not active participants in my life. My mother was a substance abuser in and out of trouble and my father did not have anything to do with me. My younger sister and I both lived with our great-grandparents.
At age 13, DSS became involved with my family. A referral was made by law enforcement due to the lack of supervision and my defiant behaviors within the neighborhood. I can remember the incident that had occurred resulting in the referral. One day after looking for our missing cat, we found it dead. It had been poisoned. Since our neighbors had poisoned other animals of ours, we all assumed that they had also poisoned our cat. When my great-grandparents left me and my little sister alone (which was often), I decided to confront the neighbor. When spotting her outside, I began to scream curse words at her. She contacted the Sheriff's Department. The Sheriff's Department then called DSS to come to the home due to the lack of supervision.
DSS kept an eye on our family for the next year. Home visits were made and comments were stated implying that my great grandparents were too old to take care of me and my sister. I had no supervision. I began to increase my defiant behaviors. I would run around with my friends, frequent a local pool hall that was not so "child friendly", and was delinquent. I would not say that my friends and I completed criminal acts but we were doing whatever we wanted to do. My grades were bad in school and I was a foul mouthed little brat.
In 8th grade, I found myself being a target of bullying. Two girls at school and their 35 year old mother would often bully and threaten me. I reported the threats and bullying behaviors to my teachers. Nothing was done about it. I felt targeted and scared. With having no help from the school, I felt I needed to take actions into my own hands. I went to the mother's workplace. When arriving, I was "jumped" by the 35 year old mother and her two daughters. I remember the incident occurred over a ten minute span until the police were called. I left the scene before the police arrived. After the incident I was informed the police were "looking for me". I went on my own to the police department to give a statement. I was informed that I was being charged with simple assault against a 22 year old pregnant woman who worked with the 35 year old. I was confused because the 22 year old woman had not been outside when the fight had occurred and I did not assault her. I was placed on juvenile probation on 02/14/2006. I was ordered to complete community service hours.
In April 2006, I returned to court for a juvenile probation hearing. My probation was extended because I had not completed my community service hours. Ironically, my mother was also placed on probation this same day due to drug charges. She was informed by the judge that she would need to reside in a drug-free environment, which ended up being in the home with my great-grandparents. When the judge was informed that my mother would be moving into the home with my great-grandparents and her 2 children, the judge immediately stated that the family had until 2pm to find me another place to reside since I was also on probation. Nobody wanted me. Nobody else in my family would take me because I was a brat. I was placed into DSS custody that day.
On the day of placement, I did not know this would be the beginning of my life being shuffled around like a bag of potatoes.
My first placement was a group home. I remained in the placement from April 2006 to June 2006. I disrupted the placement after returning to my cottage one evening after a dental appointment. When I had returned, I was informed that the whole cottage had been placed on restrictions due to the behaviors of one of the other kids in the home. I did not understand why we all had to be punished. I refused to go to my bedroom and became argumentative with staff. I threw a glass down on the floor. The staff person claimed that I had thrown it at her. My response was, "Bitch if i wanted to have hit you, I would have. I played softball for years!" This response on top of my defiant behaviors caused me to be discharged from the group home.
Since the placement disruption had been sudden, an immediate placement had to be found. I was placed in a home temporarily with a single female, her daughter, and other foster kids. During this placement, I witnessed police being called out to the home on numerous occasions and the foster mother allowing her daughter to do drugs. I could not understand why DSS had taken me out of my safe home to be placed in an unsafe environment.
I was then moved to a runaway shelter for a week. I threatened to run away and they kicked me out. Again, my social worker had to locate an immediate placement.
I was placed then in another group home setting. From June 21, 2006 to November 2006, I remained in this placement. I began to work on my goals and follow rules. I had 2 supportive house parents that assisted me with the goals and provided positive guidance for me.
Since I had begun to show improvements with my behavior, I was placed back into my great-grandparent's home on a trial placement in November 2006. I was excited to be placed back in the home and had chosen to really turn my life around. I followed all rules of DSS, my great-grandparents, and school. Then, in March 2007, my great-grandmother passed away. After this occurred, DSS felt that my great-grandfather was too elderly to supervise me and my sister alone. My mother had gone to prison and he was alone in the home. I was again removed from my home on April 19, 2007. I was placed in yet another group home setting.
In my new placement, I was forced to attend medication management. My SW had informed the doctor that I was depressed and could not sleep well. I remember stating to the doctor and my SW, "Hell yes I am depressed. You have just ripped me out of my home and I am surrounded by people who do not know me that are making decisions about me. My great-grandmother has just died. And, no I can't sleep because I am in a strange environment! I do not need you to medicate me!" Well, they placed me on medication anyways. One medication was Lexapro and another was for sleep. I remained in this placement until January 2008.
In January 2008, I was able to return back to my family home on trial placement. I continued to state to people working with me that it was not fair that my great-grandfather was 87 years old and he had nobody to look after him. He had looked after me since I was a baby and now at the age of 16 (almost 17), I needed to return the favor! I was allowed to go back home when I was 17, still with DSS involvement until I turned 18. Even though I was not in another home, I continued to have DSS supervision.
While I was in DSS custody, I did not feel that my assigned SW, her supervisor, and my case manager were honest with me. It was like they did not want to tell me the truth because they were afraid that I would "flip out". Nobody understood what I needed except another SW working in the LINKS program and a Social Work Assistant. They helped me the most and would encourage me to do well. They had faith in me and provided me support.
My SW did try to help my family...mostly my mother. What my SW did not understand though is that my mother needed rehab and prison to change her lifestyle, and by putting most of her time and energy on my mom, she often neglected the needs of my sister and me. But the good news is that my mom is now drug-free.
People do not understand that being in foster care (for some) is like being in prison. Even though people would tell you to be comfortable, you never could be. It is a whole new world! You are told what you can wear, how you can speak, when you need to go to bed, when to wake up, told to do chores, etc.—and it’s a different feeling when it comes from strangers and not your own family. You don’t know if you can trust them, and what usually seems to be so important to them isn’t usually very important to you.
Even though I did have bad experiences here and there, I would not change anything about my life. I believe that I have become a better person as a result of it all. I don't regret being placed in foster care or for the bad choices I have made in life, because that is a part of who I am now.
I am now in community college working towards transferring to a four-year school. I have been enrolled in Criminal Justice but had to quit the program due to work and other hurdles in my life. I would like to work in the criminal justice field as an investigator. If this does not happen, I would like to focus on working with children in the system.