Posted tagged ‘african american’

Homeless, Unwed Mother, Foster Child, Living by her Rules

September 9, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Jamillah Williams, a foster child who became pregnant while living in a homeless shelter. She gave birth just after her eighteen birthday to an underweight baby boy, a baby she never wanted but credits him now with keeping her on track.

Jamillah has the courage that most of us could only dream of. She endured a decade of physical and sexual abuse starting at five years old by her own father, a convicted sex offender. She speaks in a monotone voice as she describes the abuse never wavering even once when she says, “he raped me”. To her, it is a fact of life. Emotion never enters her voice and her story rolls off her tongue as if she were describing what she ate for breakfast.

“The first person I told was my mother but she didn’t believe me so I went to a social worker in school and told her like some things that were bothering me at home and she felt like as though DYFS should step in.  DYFS came to school and removed me. They went back to my house and arrested my father and removed my sister and brother”, Jamillah says. “I was just tired of living in a house with somebody I feared. I felt that I shouldn’t have to fear somebody that lives in my house.” Anger, hatred, despair, none of these emotions creep into her voice or mannerisms as she continues her story.

“I was mad because I didn’t want to be removed from my house. I just wanted my father to be removed and I wanted to be home with my mother. But they (DYFS) felt as though if I told my mother and she didn’t do nothing about it she’s just as wrong as anybody else. I was upset. I lost a lot of weight. I didn’t want to eat. I didn’t want to be bothered,” she says. “I wanted to drop out of highschool. I was just going through a lot”.

“My mother, she’s actually doing ok. We still talk from time to time but it’s not like it’s a strong relationship”. Her mother was lost her section eight rent subsizided apartment not long after her father was arrested and moved into a homeless shelter with her sister and brother. “The judge said my mother couldn’t take us because my mother was working only one job that wasn’t paying enough. She couldn’t take care of all three of us if we was living at home.  (DYFS) asked us did we had any relatives at first. I gave them my grandmother name, I gave them my aunt name. They said every name you give us, they have to do a background check and if it comes back negative you can’t stay with them. When my grandmother got back she took my sister instead of me. Ten they contacted my aunt, they told me I couldn’t live with my aunt because she lives in a bad neighborhood. I couldn’t live with my other aunt because she had a record. I was basically stuck in the foster system.”

Jamillah moved to numerous homeless shelters and at least five foster homes before landing at Raphaels Life House in November, a home for unwed mothers affiliated with Covenant House. With the help of Raphaels Life House and Covenant House Newark, Jamillah moved into her first apartment with her son last week. A rent subsized apartmet though the section eight.

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.