Foster home to foster home to foster home, etc. Twenty-six homes in total. One “family” to the next, passed on like the bubble in my mother’s tweaker circle.
My birth family consists of four brothers from two different dads and four sisters from three different moms.
I’m the only one from my mother and father’s union. A bad party and a ripped condom, that’s what my parents called me. I’m the first one either of them had and they didn’t want me.
At 8 I entered the foster system. Most foster parents thought I was broken because I didn’t talk to them outright. They didn’t know what to do with me, so they passed me on, right when I was coming out of my shell.
For more information on dual status youth, go to JJIE Resource Hub | Dual Status Youth
Then I got so tired of not having anyone that I begged this really crappy family to adopt me. Bad move. They were abusive and just horrible people. “Family” don’t tell you you’re “just garbage to pick up off the street.” I got arrested while living there and the family disowned me.
They emancipated me, went before a judge, the works.
While in county lockup, I was told I was a ward of the state and now had no legal family. I was abandoned. Alone.
One day my lawyer asked, “What if I found you a guardian to help with your paperwork for treatment and such?” I was so low, so lost in darkness that I told him “I don’t give a ….! Do what you need to.”
Then one day, a couple of weeks later, she showed up, Ms. Kathleen. The guard called me to the visiting room and she stood up, smiled and gave me a hug. This startled me and I just froze. She pulled back and said, “I’m Kathleen, I’m your guardian.” She sat down and motioned me to sit as well. I did but was suspicious.
My first words to her were, “Have you read my file?”
I was so used to being treated like a monster, an animal, that when someone treated me with kindness I didn’t know how to react.
She just looked at me, raised an eyebrow and said, “Yes, but what of it? Is that who you really are?”
She came in knowing my past, knowing I was violent, and she trusted me and looked past all that.
Since that day I’ve felt a bond grow between her and I. Now, she’s like my mom. She, for all rights and purposes, IS my mom. I love her to death and would do anything she asked. For one of the few times in my life, I was scared to disappoint someone. I don’t usually care what people think of me but like I said, she’s my mom.
It’s been six years and she still treats me like her son. After so many years of being alone, I got lucky and found family.
For the people that read this, look around; who needs someone? All it takes is one person, one heart, to change someone’s life forever.
T.D. was adjudicated at 15 and sentenced to be in detention until age 21. He is currently in his fifth year of detention in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth, was founded by David Inocencio in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at email@example.com.