"When I was 11 years old, my two brothers, my sister, and I lived in a small trailer with my mother and her abusive boyfriend, who both had drinking problems. My brothers and I had the same father who was at the time in jail, and my sister has a different father who also had a drinking problem, but was generally a good person.
Since we were born, we had always known this family friend that always tried to keep us out of trouble and take care of us because of the bad conditions we were being raised in. I don't remember when they got called or what exactly happened, but I remember spending more and more nights at our family friend's house until at some point our mother went to jail, and we were going to be put into foster care. To keep us from being split up, the family friend and her husband got a license to be foster parents and took us in.
Eventually, not long after I turned 13, they legally adopted us, and I consider them my true parents. At the time, I didn't know what to think but knew it was probably for the better. I'm thankful it happened like it did because I was never separated from my siblings and am doing well (a year away from a computer science degree with a high GPA). I wouldn't have been able to do it without them."
"I was taken when I was 11 or 12 years old. This was after my grandparents (who I lived with) had divorced. My grandpa would take my brother, my sister, and me to the beach almost every weekend. Things kept getting weirder and weirder every time he did. He started making friends with homeless people at the beach, taking them back to his house, and having them babysit us for short periods of time. Eventually, he started taking us to the beach and having us spend the night on the beach with him and stuff. As a kid, it was great fun, but looking back on it it was insane. He would leave us for hours at a time with these people he hardly knew, and he let us do whatever we wanted. I don't remember the exact chain of events, but the police ended up getting involved, and so did CPS. They decided it wasn't a good idea to take us back to our grandma's because she had a poor judgment of my grandpa's character, and she had a known drinking problem.
Looking back on it, I remember how upset I was with everyone involved. I was mad at the police; I was mad at CPS. I was mad at everyone involved because they took me from a relatively happy situation and put me into one I hated. I ended up living in several foster homes, with varying levels of awful parents -- the worst of which was a family who was racist. They also separated my brother and me from my sister, who went to a separate home without us.
We eventually got to live with my grandma again after she went through several programs to assist her drinking. When we got there, she had no electricity and no gas in the middle of winter. This was a mountain town in California, and the only thing we had was a fireplace to keep us warm at night. CPS came again after my grandma's boyfriend crashed her car with us inside. He failed a sobriety test after the accident, which prompted CPS to get involved. This time though, I was pretty content with leaving.
All in all, I can see why it was done, and I agree that it was warranted."
"At the time I was taken away, I was terrified, but I did my best not to show it because I had to be courageous for my little brother and sister. Inwardly, I didn't know what would happen to me, or to them, and I wondered if I had done the right thing by going to the police.
After a few days, my siblings returned home, but I stayed at the CPS building in Manhattan. Those were dark and lonely days before I got placed in a group home. It was especially hard because it was a few days after Christmas.
As for now, I'm glad I did what I did, but sometimes I do feel guilty, and sad. Especially around the holiday season, I wish I had a mother and father to celebrate with. But in the end, I did what I could to protect myself, but most importantly, my little sister and brother."
"When we (my brother, sister, and myself) were taken, I was staying with my grandmother and my aunt, and my sister and brother with my mom and grandpa in another house. My grandpa was abusive, mostly only to my grandma at the time, but sometimes to us as well. My mother never liked me. My brother and sister were her favorites. I was my grandma's and aunt's favorite because the others didn't care for adults other than my mom.
Mom was an addict and worked the street corners. She never wanted kids and gave us to grandma and grandpa before I was one year old. My grandma had just kicked my grandpa out -- after 25 years, she just couldn't do it anymore. She couldn't live in fear and such. Grandma was depressed, and my aunt was never a housekeeper. So when my siblings ran off to mom and grandpa, I wouldn't go. So grandpa called CPS, thinking they would give me to him. He always saw himself as so much better than he is.
Well, because of the state of the house and the things grandpa said, I was taken into foster care. And because my grandpa's place was a one-bedroom apartment and the things grandma said, my brother and sister went into foster care as well.
I was scared. Going off to live with strangers when you're in fourth grade is terrifying. My first foster home was great. It was an older couple who lived on a ranch. I got to ride horses and it was normal. I went to school, had snacks, hugs -- I was a real kid. Not just a thing no one cared about.
The second foster home was awful. They had kids of their own and used us for chores. They were in it for the money.
The third foster home was alright. They were uptight Christians.
My last foster home was actually a different sort of place called Southern Christian Home. There was a mom and dad, who had about five kids. There were cottages and it was separated girls from boys. I was only there a month, then we were released into my grandfather's custody because he was a good actor. He went to every visitation, court date; he played the game. I cried the entire way to his house. It was awful. He said he was a changed man, but he wasn't.
After foster care, he was abusive towards us because he had no one else to hurt. When I was 15, he kicked me out because I got pregnant. He wouldn't allow me birth control and put me down to the point where I ran to the first person who'd pretend to care. Now I've met a good man, married him and we're doing great."
"My mother was abusive. One of my earliest memories is being unable to finish a plate of food and having her put my hand on a chopping block and hold a knife over my fingers with the threat of cutting them off if I didn't finish. When I was six, I don't exactly remember what I had done, but she had backed me in the corner with a metal spatula and kept hitting me with it. She threatened to kill me when I was ten and disowned me three times by the time I finished sixth grade.
I could tell a dozen stories about the things she did. She threw chairs at me, broke plates over my head, always told these horror stories saying if I got taken away I'd be put with a foster family who would lock me in cages and starve me to death. She'd grab me by the hair and throw me to the ground, have me kneel on rice for hours with my arms up in the air in the dark because I was terrified of the dark. She was religious and would make me repent for being such a terrible person all the time and beg for forgiveness.
She also had these crazy standards for cleanliness, always wanted the house absolutely spotless, and had me clean the bathrooms every day, dust everything, have everything perfect, and if I didn't do it right, I was a failure as a girl and a failure as a person. I was allergic to whatever soap it was we had, and my arms would always be bright red and itchy, but I had to do it anyway. I was hit and told to kill myself and made fun of when I failed to. In her good moods, she'd pick apart everything about me, telling me I was ugly and making fun of my crooked teeth and frizzy hair, telling me I was stupid, telling me I'd never be loved or have real friends.
I could keep going.
When I was little, I thought what happened was normal. When I got a little bit older, between 10 and 12 years old, I had been wrecked and thought I deserved what I got and was more concerned with trying to kill myself than anything. I told people what happened sometimes, especially when I came into school sobbing and couldn't satisfy by just saying nothing was wrong. I'd tell in detail the sort of stuff she would pull, but nobody did anything. Teachers would recommend I go to the office sometimes, but I'd either be too scared or they wouldn't do anything.
When I turned 13, my mom started using the cops as a weapon against me. At first, she would threaten to call them and say I was being a danger and have me taken away. I called her on her bull. Cops would come but there were never any bruises. She'd lie and say I'd slapped her or verbally abused her. The cops would never do anything. I was even told I deserved to be hit, that if they'd done what I had done, they'd have gotten smacked too. I was called a liar to my face each time.
A few months ago in June, my mom was faking a call to the cops after being unable to come into my room and throw me around. I had enough of being called a liar and being blamed for my abuse, so I jumped out my second story window. I've got some faint scars on the backs of my thighs from when I landed in the bush outside my window and ended up scraping my arms when I got out. I ran a mile in the heat to a friend's house and had blisters on my feet from the running on the hot pavement with no shoes. We called the cops and my dad who was 800 miles away. CPS ended up getting involved.
I had to go back to that house, and I had to listen to my mother tirade on how awful of a child I was, how unruly and disrespectful and all these lies. My brother and I were talked to, and the whole time I got the feeling I still wasn't being taken seriously.
Regardless, my dad now has custody of me, but my brother is still trapped with my mother. There's a court case going on. I'm going to therapy.
I feel guilty for leaving him in that house. I'm still wrecked from growing up being told I'm worthless, and I still get nervous when stuff reminds me of my mom. My dad's awesome and an amazing father, but he doesn't understand what my mom's done either. It's one thing to list all the stuff that happens but another to be that terrified little girl backed into a corner shaking and crying and screaming 'I'm sorry' right before getting beat, or having to live scared waiting for the next outburst and always being afraid and unable to fight back, or even just having every insecurity thrown back into your face until you hate every single thing about yourself.
There's this lingering fear that I'll end up like her one day."
"When I was 12, my dad slapped me in the face pretty hard. This was just the latest incident after a few really dark years, and I just bawled all night. It wasn't that it hurt so much, it was just the overwhelming feeling of not being safe in my home when my dad was around. My mom eventually asked me if I wanted her to call the police, and I said yeah. Now, in retrospect, I don't think it was appropriate to ask a 12-year-old to make that decision, but that's what happened.
So, the police came, my dad lied, and they left. A couple weeks later, social workers visited my siblings and me at our schools and interviewed us about the abuse at home. I told that social worker every single thing I could think of -- the belts, the phone thrown at my head, the constant verbal abuse, and put-downs.
The next day, the social worker came back, swooped us all up and took us to the county children's home. Looking back, I feel so foolish. The social worker told us we'd be back with our mom in a couple days. We ended up staying at the children's home for a month and a half, and then were placed in foster care for another eight months.
My dad is Muslim, and a lot of our conflict came from the fact that I grew up whitewashed, and even though he tried to shove religion down my throat as much as he could, I never really liked it or got into it. So in a fit of cultural sensitivity, our social worker at the children's home informed us that they'd managed to find a Muslim foster home for us to stay in. Oh, joy. I told the social worker as much as I could, I don't really practice Islam, I don't want to be involved in that, but of course they didn't listen.
So we ended up staying with the one Muslim foster family in the whole county -- these Indian immigrants and their stuck-up, shining, UCLA-bound future doctor and lawyer children. Their kids were terrible brats who made a trying time even harder, but I guess I understand. I mean, try asking a teenager for empathy, right? Not going to happen.
During this time my parents divorced, which I wish had happened a lot earlier. I actually don't understand why they ever got married. My dad dislikes western culture, but he married a blonde, blue-eyed Roman Catholic. Explain that to me. My mom denies it, but it would make a whole lot of sense to me if they just got married so he could get his green card or something.
Anyway, they got divorced, but not all the way. My dad completely screwed my mom in the divorce, threatening that if she tried to get any type of child support, he would just move back to his home country. Years later, I looked at typical divorce agreements in our state and could not believe just how much my mom gave up. I'm painting my dad in a bad light, but he did child support his own way. He let us stay in the house we were living in before, and got his own apartment with his new wife from his home country.
So for the next several years, until I was in college, he would come over every Sunday (with his new wife) and lecture me in front of the rest of the family about how ungrateful I am and how I'm going to go to hell because I don't pray and every B I ever got in school was a failure and whatever else. Week after week, ridiculing me in front of my whole family while they sat there and did nothing.
Overall, I don't know what to think of the experience. If it hadn't happened, I would have had to live with my dad all through high school, which would have been terrible. But on the other hand, I remember right before it happened, I was in junior high and finally starting to break out of my shell of nerdiness. I had some friends, I was discovering new interests and life was starting to unfold. After staying in the foster home, I started high school and went right back into my shell. I didn't talk to anyone except my one close friend. I gave up on all the interests I had started to take up. I have been battling depression ever since and I generally feel so far behind in life now. So I don't know.
Foster care is a really bad solution to an even worse problem, is the only conclusion I can come up with."
"I was so poor and uncared for, that state homes were an upgrade. Three meals a day was huge. Little things like eating at a table with others, someone actually making sure that I bathed, and fun things like going to a park or watching the television together as a family seemed so alien to me but so very good."
"My ex spent some time in foster care when he was a child. His mother has a lot of mental problems. His father was never in the picture. He did eventually end up living with his grandmother.
He wouldn't talk to me about it much, but he did tell me an awful story about having his face slammed into a baby's dirty diaper that was on a table. That resulted in a broken tooth. I can only imagine what else happened if that's what he was comfortable telling me. He has a lot of problems now that I think are due to his childhood. He was never one to smile much. He had anxiety issues. Ultimately, I think it's what drove us apart."
"I was taken away because my parents didn't have the heat on in the house. My sisters and I were given to a woman who would tie us to chairs and force us to eat cooked carrots. I still can't eat them today. She would then tie us into bed at night, so we couldn't get up."
"My parents went through a nasty divorce. The school district that I attended had this program called 6-to-6 wherein the school took care of students from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (normal school hours were 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.). They'd have the students sit in the cafeteria and do homework/play games.
On one day, in particular, the attendants had the students playing in the schoolyard. A couple of members of the school administration brought me into the auditorium and sat me down to talk. I was in third grade. I wasn't stupid. I figured something was going to happen and that it was probably related to all of the nasty arguments that my parents had.
There sat an 8-year-old on the edge of an unlit stage, legs swinging back and forth, knocking the exposed support beams. The doors on the far side opened as three figures sauntered toward me. One was a slightly plump woman in a white suit. She was trailed by a black police officer and a balding man in what some might label 'dad-core' clothing.
As they neared the stage, the woman in white began in what I'd have considered the world's most condescending tone, had I known what condescension was.
'Your mommy and daddy are having a bit of trouble right now, so we're going to take you somewhere safe,' she said.
'No,' I said.
'But we're here to help you,' she said.
She tried to take my hand, but I retreated. She motioned to the officer to restrain me. He obliged. At this point, I had become somewhat belligerent. The school and my parents had conditioned me to refuse contact with strangers, and despite what these people said, they were strangers. To me, at the time, they were there to take me away. They weren't there to help me; they were there to remove the comfort from my life.
The officer's efforts to restrain me seemed lazy at first, as though this was just another day for him. However, I made sure to make his job and her job as difficult as possible. The third man didn't really intervene. I ran to the wardrobe room and clung desperately to every piece of furniture that I could, as the officer held and pulled me by the waist and feet. After some struggle, he had wrestled me to the front of the stage. In a final effort to avoid capture, I held on to the stage's support beams. I suppose this was the straw that broke the camel's back, as the officer yanked me with what I would now call excessive force. He leaned in and whispered, 'If you keep this up, you'll never see your mommy and daddy again.'
My reply was a terse, 'shut up.' It was in response to his particularly appalling statement, but it was also my closing statement. I didn't have the effort or strength to continue the struggle, so I closed the exchange and admitted defeat. For some reason I cannot fathom, the officer (who had me in submission with my chest down and hands behind my back) lifted me a few inches off of the stage and slammed me back down. My mother let out a shrill scream, and I came to the realization that she had witnessed most, if not all, of the struggle.
The officer led me to the plump, white lady's equally plump, white car. My brother was already in the backseat. As the ride continued, I noticed a bruise forming on my chest. We arrived at the children's center and were ushered into a room for processing where we met a kid named Angel. After some conversation, we learned that Angel had been in and out of protective homes for quite a while. Upon seeing the bruise on my chest, Angel remarked, 'Don't let them see that. They won't let you see your mom or dad again.' I took his advice at the time, but it's a bit sad in retrospect -- it's sad that he thought that way. Maybe CPS really was protecting children. Maybe the children just didn't realize it.
I didn't think so. CPS watched while I was blatantly abused by an officer of the law. In the center, children were made to wear sweat clothes. All of our belongings were locked away. This included everything we had on us when they brought us in. My brother and I were at the center for about a month. It was operated in a capacity that I equated to prison. We were confined to our rooms, although we had free time in the common room, class time, and meal time.
My brother and I originally shared a room. While I don't get along with my brother, I always respect him for how he helped me through the ordeal. During our stay, I'd cry most nights and he'd try to comfort me by having me sing 'yippie yo yippie yay' with him. Eventually, we were given a third roommate named Chris. We quickly developed a friendship with Chris. A few weeks after this incident, we were told that we were being pulled out of the center. We were ecstatic. After a month away from our family (with visits once a week), we were excited to finally go home. As we walked out of the door, we heard Chris call out, 'You're just going to leave me?' I haven't heard from Chris since that day, but I hope he's doing well.
Our belongings were returned to us, and we were herded back into the plump white lady's plump white car. Unfortunately, our ordeal wasn't over. What CPS had failed to tell us was that we were being moved to a foster care home for our extended stay. Upon our arrival, we were given a room to share. We were allowed to keep all of our belongings, except our belts, which were to be turned in at the front office. The implications still make me uncomfortable.
This facility was far more relaxed. There was a game room that housed a Sega Genesis and a foosball table. Only the best-behaved residents were allowed in. By now, I was far more comfortable in this 'not home' environment, so I began to make friends. Many of these friends were kids who I recognized from the first center.
For two more months, my brother and I dealt with our ordeal, regularly attending meetings with our CPS agent and psychiatrist. We were released back into our mother's custody, where we were made to continue to see psychiatrists.
The experience was terrible. I still resent my parents for being so selfish that they'd let the situation come to that. I despise CPS because their handling of the entire situation was shady. The facilities that they put is in were so disgustingly utilitarian. No effort was made to help the children that were put there; we were only meant to be kept alive and 'healthy.' I attribute the fact that I'm not a total wreck to my brother's presence; however, he couldn't really prevent the emotional scars. I feel that the situation left me cold and uncaring. It's hard for me to respond to things emotionally. A sort of, 'I've done all the crying I needed to while I was stuck in that hole,' sort of thing.
I know that CPS has done a lot of good for people who were in situations much more abusive than mine, but the fact of the matter is, I wasn't in a situation that was abusive. My parents fought. I was taken out of a situation that was bad and put into a situation that was worse. They handled it poorly. They put my brother and me through an unnecessary and traumatizing ordeal because they thought they were helping us. I wouldn't take any of it back because I'm happy where I am today, but I don't see the experience as a good one."
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