Archive for the ‘STORIES FromHomeless Former Foster Children’ category

Ejetta Harvey, Homeless, Unwed, Single Mother, Abused

September 25, 2008

Margaret Smith Touches Jamillah’s Life

September 25, 2008

It was one of my fears to be homeless

September 7, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Taquaan Peace, turning 20 years old. 16+ years in foster care, group homes and hospitals, never adopted.

“I came into DYFS when I was 2 years old.  My mother, she got caught with robbery trying to take care of us. I’ve been in over 60 places; in foster homes, group homes, hospitals, it’s just been hard,” Taquaan says.

Taquaan is a solemn young man. He speaks softly and hangs his head low as he recounts his life story. “I remember some foster families to be real nice people and then I remember some of them to be evil, no other words to explain. There was some instances where it was my fault, things that I did wrong but I was young and I didn’t know better but I didn’t deserve to be beat and not fed.

I was physically abused. I was a young child being beat like a grown man. I was skinny and I was being beat like I was nothing.  I told my case worker every time and they eventually took me out of the homes but there were some instances where I wanted to stay in the home so I kinda took the abuse a little bit. Some times the DYFS worker’s didn’t believe me. They thought I was making it up myself, I was lying, I was inflicting the damage upon myself.   I would have bruises, I remember my nose was broken one time and basically marks all over my body,” Peace recount.

From home to home, hospital-to-hospital, group home to group home, more than 60 in all Peace remembers, it was always the same. “You have an incident, they talk to you, put you in a van, they find some garbage bags, they pack all your stuff up throw it in a couple of garbage bags, put it in a van, they bring you to a DYFS building office, call some people like a respite home or something like that. They put you in there for the weekend or a week then you find a new family and you go live with them.”

I asked him, so how do you feel to have all your belonging put into a garbage bag?

“That was the least of my worries really. My worries were, where am I going now, who are gonna be these people, are they going to treat me like the last?

I wish I was mature and I wish I was more intelligent back then because I would have been able to change things and make thing better by myself but I just didn’t know certain things and I was just a little kid so I really was helpless and I hate that I was helpless.

There was an instance I was being abused for two years straight. Abused by the same people. I was scared, I felt like I was gonna die. I sat down with DYFS, with every worker I could possible get and told them, I was scared, I was abused, look I’m being abused, look I have marks on my arm, look my tooth is broken, look, look, look. And they did nothing for me. They never took me out of that place. They sat there and let me get abused for two years straight and I resent them for that, I really do. That’s something I will never forget. They never listened to me, they never made a change. I tried everything in my power to tell them, look I’m being beat and I fell like I’m gonna die. I’m lost. Help me, please help me. Crying to them, everything.

Then they wonder why when I move on to my next place I’m so angry, I’m so violent. I was being beat, they weren’t doing anything, I was so young.”

A long silent and uneasy pause fills the air until I ask him to tell me about his mother.

“The last time I seen my mom was when I was five. It was Halloween night (she visited him at his foster home) and she just told me that she’ll be back because I wanted to go trick or treating and she said she’ll stay there. When I came back she was gone.

That’s my dream is to find my family. I know my mother is in Clinton State Prison, my father just got on parole. They say I have 26 relatives but I don’t know where any of them are.

Never in my life, it was actually one of my fears to be homeless like this is not a good feeling at all. It feels bad I feel like I’m at my lowest point. I feel angry, I feel lost, I feel helpless again it’s just that, I don’t know, I feel really bad. It’s not a good feeling at all.

I always try to help people that are less fortunate on me so for it to happen to me, it’s like, I really see what they’re going through and I’m really glad I helped them.

DYFS plays a role on me being homeless. Most of it is my fault but they play a part. Look at the places I’ve been to, look at what DYFS did for me. I can count it on my fingers what they’ve done for me my whole life, my whole eighteen years. “

Peace has been living at the Covenant House Crisis Center for the past few weeks. His future is uncertain.

UPDATE – Premature Birth, Mentally Ill Mother – 50 Foster Homes

July 11, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

AN UPDATE on Jonathan Norman Huges:

A little over a week after profiling Jonathan, there is an update. Jonathan is currently in the county jail for stabbing another teenager.

According to a According to the Child Welfare League of America, 27 percent of male children who age out of the foster care system end up in jail. Jonathan has quickly become another statistic.

Read the Aging Out of Foster Care interview on PBS at:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/youth/jan-june05/foster_care_5-19.html

Meet Johnathan Norman Hughes, born at 6 1/2 months to a mentally ill mother. DHS – Children’s Protective Services in Michigan removed him from his mother after his sister reported neglect. After living in more than fifty foster homes, he ran away from his last foster home at sixteen years old. He says, not once did the police, his case worker or foster parents come looking for him. “If she (foster parent) reported me, then she wouldn’t get the money no more. She didn’t report me. She got the money and I didn’t want to be there and that’s a fair trade. She got what she wanted and I got what I wanted. She wanted free money without the responsibility and I wanted to be the heck away from this place. We both got what we wanted.”

Never Met my Parents, Physically Abused, Step Father Raped Me

June 25, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet James Robinson, 18 years in and out of foster care, never adopted.

“Never met my parent’s. Don’t know anything about them. I aged out. I never did get adopted. I’m not exactly sure 100% why. But I do know out of 1,972 different foster homes (he claims he lived in), 1764 of them I was physically abused. Out of that much, it was only four homes I was molested.”

“A case worker of mine in New York told me, my dad had never appeared in the hospital and my mother had just left and never returned. And I believe someone was trying to fight for custody for me and that’s my step father, James Robinson. What got me in trouble is my step father had raped me 37 hours in less than six hours.”

He says his step father dropped him and his half brother Lewis at DYFS in New Jersey.

“DYFS sucks man, that’s all I can say. DYFS really sucks.”

James clearly remember his past in a way that helps him to cope with his present. He admits to years of therapy and embellishes every aspect of his life. What is the truth? Probably no one really knows. The present truth is that he is a young homeless man with a lifetime history of foster care, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment and despair.

His future? Only he can change that. James currently lives at Covenant House New Jersey

Premature Birth, Mentally Ill Mother – Fifty Foster Homes

June 25, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Johnathan Norman Hughes, born at 6 1/2 months to a mentally ill mother. DHS – Children’s Protective Services in Michigan removed him from his mother after his sister reported neglect. After living in more than fifty foster homes, he ran away from his last foster home at sixteen years old. He says, not once did the police, his case worker or foster parents come looking for him. “If she (foster parent) reported me, then she wouldn’t get the money no more. She didn’t report me. She got the money and I didn’t want to be there and that’s a fair trade. She got what she wanted and I got what I wanted. She wanted free money without the responsibility and I wanted to be the heck away from this place. We both got what we wanted.”

At seventeen, Johnathan was emancipated from the foster care system. “Until you can learn to live with yourself, you can’t live with nobody else. Especially when you’re young and out there on your own with no support, no family, no motivation.

He’s lived in Covenant Houses in Michigan, New York City, Newark and California. Myspace.com is “100% useful to me. You can be homeless and still have an email. You can be homeless and still have a life. Just because you’re not financially, doesn’t mean you’re not socially, doesn’t mean you’re not mentally, doesn’t meant you’re not physically. I was still breathing, I wanted to meet people, I wanted to socialize and myspace is a way to do that.”

“I believe myspace is valuable to anyone who wants to be realized, anybody who wants to be known, anybody who wants anyone to find them. Myspace is the best way. Myspace is the best way to be found.”

He’ll probably be at Covenant House another two weeks. “I can’t stay. I can’t. I can’t. Cause, it’s like, and if you read about the indigo children, it’s like I’m searching for something. Something big is coming. Like I said, I don’t know how I’d be if I was with my real mother but right now I’m where I want to be.

Interviewed on the streets of Newark during a night of Outreach to the community.

Victim of Child Neglect & Malnutrition – Days Away From Dying

June 25, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Willie Jacovra Harden, a victim of child neglect & malnutrition. DYFS removed him from his mother who was neglecting and starving him. He says doctors told his grandmother that he was days away from dying of malnutrition.

DYFS removed him from his mother and placed him in kinship care with his grandmother but never closed his case. There was also sexual abuse by his stepfather. He lived with his grandmother until 18 years old. His DYFS caseworker told him about a program, Urban Youth Development Corporation, a program for transitional living.

http://www.uydc.org/

Their mission:

Our mission is to implement, advocate for, train, and provide technical assistance to programs geared towards youth ages 5-24 years old and parents.  Our programs are all research-based models formatted developmentally correct, cognizant of their impact on children and their families, foster clear beliefs and standards, offer opportunities and skill building to participants, and recognize the accomplishments of youth so that healthy behaviors can be adopted by participants; thus making a substantial impact on communities, families, and children.  The primary issues the agency addresses are problematic teen behaviors, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, school failure, violence, juvenile delinquency, and homelessness.

He was 18 years old, his case was closed and soon after he was thrown out of the program for behavioral issues ending up homeless. He found out about Covenant House and is living there now.

Interviewed on the streets of Newark during a night of Outreach to the community.

Jamillah, Aged Out, Homeless, Unwed – Raphael’s Life House

June 18, 2008

Made my first trip to Raphael’s Life House, transitional housing for homeless, pregnant women and their babies.

http://www.raphaelslifehouse.org/

MEET Jamillah Williams and her three month old son, who has been living at Raphael’s Life House for several months.

Former foster child, aged out and homeless, now living at Raphael\'s Life House

According to Jamillah:

  • Her father sexually and physically abused her from age 5 to age 16
  • At age 16 she went to the social worker at her high school and told her story about her father’s abusive relationship. The worker called police/dyfs who took Jamillah and subsequently her two siblings and put them in dyfs custody
  • Says her father was an unregistered sexual predator who is currently in jail
  • Her biological mother is living in a shelter with her younger sister and her brother is living in a separate shelter

She’s unclear as to whether she was ever “legally free” for adoption. She “aged out” of foster care although has not signed herself out of the dyfs system ensuring her services until she’s 21 years old.

She seems to be advocating for herself in terms of receiving services. She has a CASA – court appointed special advocate – who she calls for legal advice but says that no dyfs worker has ever advised her as to any service or assistance that might be available to her.

One of the really interesting parts of the three hour audio taped interview was learning about how foster and homeless kids communicate with each other. My Space seems to be a lifeline. They used it to keep in touch with biological family members as well as other foster kids they meet as they move from home to home. Somehow they seem to always have internet access and utilized My Space as a way of updating each other.

Many also have cell phones cards with minutes to use the phone since they have no credit and cannot get an account.

I need to explore the whole idea of using My Space to track each other.


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