When They Took Me To The Orphanage: My Story Of Life In The System

[dropcap]I grew up[/dropcap] without my parents so I dealt with many obstacles.

When I was almost a year old, my dad was imprisoned for something he didn’t do. He was blamed because he was at the scene of the crime when the police arrived. My mom, on the other hand, died when I was almost three years old. She was hit by a car while intoxicated.

My main obstacle was living with my maternal grandmother who had a problem with alcoholism, and would always get really violent. That is what led me to enter the Child Protective Services (CPS) system when I was six years old.

I remember that night when I got taken away. My maternal grandmother got in an argument with her boyfriend that turned into a physical fight. It was a frightening night and all I could remember was hiding under a bed that was placed in the living room, watching their feet sway violently.

Then suddenly my grandmother called me to help her. I got out from under the bed and found her boyfriend reaching for the phone that was out of his grasp. I ran to it and grabbed it.

I felt like I needed to obey her or else I would suffer consequences afterwards. I ran with the phone to another room and hid under that bed. From the bedroom, I could hear them cussing in the living room and with her yelling I pictured everything in my head.

[pullquote_right]I remember that night when I got taken away. My maternal grandmother got in an argument with her boyfriend that turned into a physical fight.[/pullquote_right]

I don’t know who started the argument but I know my grandma was the one who started beating on her boyfriend. She always acted that way when she was drunk.

Her boyfriend was going to the neighbors to use their phone but the neighbors had already called the police. When the police arrived I heard my grandma cussing at them, telling them to mind their own business. They asked her to stay calm and walk outside with them. My grandma was now beginning to get louder I’m guessing because they put hands on her to get her out of the house.

It got quiet. I figured she was gone and I was safe but I didn’t want to take the risk of the police finding me. Where would I go?

The neighbor then yelled, “What about the child?” The police didn’t know about that piece of information. They went back up stairs and began looking for me. They had a lot of difficulty trying to find me. They couldn’t find me but I could see them from under the bed.

I cried a deep sob and then one of them heard me. He looked under and saw me. He tried to get me out. He was struggling and I kept moving farther away. Suddenly my foot slipped and he managed to pull me. Then I quickly turned and bit him.

He called for his partner and they both came and got me. Then they took me to this place. It was some kind of orphanage for kids with nothing left.

At the orphanage, there were kids of all ages, even babies. When I got there they offered me dinner but the police had already gotten me a kids meal from Burger King. There was a center for babies and five cottages with different and strange names.

My cottage started with the letter “C” and was for kids from five to ten years old. I lived there for a year and a half. I made a couple of friends, but I would still get depressed on holidays. I yearned to be with my family. It was a very structured life. I liked that I got snacks because most of the time when I was with my grandma, all she did was drink.

I left the orphanage after about a year and a half because I finally got adopted. Most kids didn’t stay there for more than a year.

Having been in and out of the system and having been placed in over ten different group homes, I learned to keep my life a secret. I knew that it could be used against me in a good way or a bad way.

Some people look at me like I’m a survivor, like my therapist. I like the attention but sometimes I just want to feel normal like everyone else. I’ve also had good and bad experiences when I told my teachers what I’ve been through.

[pullquote_left]I am no longer physically abused. Life is good.[/pullquote_left]

Once, I told one of my teachers at Kerman High School that I had been in CPS and then she looked at me like I was some kind of monster. One day, I accidentally tripped over a desk and she wrote me up stating that I had thrown the desk at her. I became defensive and I knew it wasn’t true. I felt sorry for her because it’s sad for her to fear me just because of what I’ve been through.

But I had a different experience with another teacher. When I met her, she treated me normal like everyone else. That’s what I liked about her. But once she found out my history with CPS, she treated me different, not bad, but good. My classmates liked me better too because they looked up to me. They thought I was doing something right but I wasn’t, I was just a clown like them except that my teacher gave me more chances.

Even at fifteen years old, I am a survivor. Today, I live in a stable home with my paternal grandmother. Soon I will finally graduate from a wrap-a-around services program, which will help me stay out of CPS. I am no longer physically abused. Life is good.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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