Rinesa Kabashi staff writer
Find the opinion article regarding the issue here.
28,000 children are currently in foster care in Los Angeles County.
1,400 children in foster care are awaiting adoptive families.
Returning home from school Charlie* would soon find out her life would be changed forever.
Finding her whole house empty with only her belongings left in packed boxes, she knew that she and her mother were being evicted. As the two parted ways, Charlie went to live with her father while her mother would stay with a friend for “a little while,” she claimed.
“[My father] had a new wife and kid so things didn’t really work out there. We would fight a lot and it just wasn’t a good household for me to be in. One night we got into a fight, and when I came back from school the next day, I went to his house and all of my stuff was outside,” Charlie said.
With no plan of where to go and all of her belongings in her hand, she decided to rely on some close friends. She started to go around from friend to friend, but nowhere seemed as stable as it did when she lived with her mom.
“I’m the type of person that bottles things up. When I was living in my friends’ homes, before I had therapy, I wouldn’t show emotion. I would try forgetting about it, and having a friends’ company would get me by every day,” Charlie said.
Finally, she found a house where she was allowed to stay for a long period of time, until the end of her sophomore year. As time went by she grew closer and closer to the family she was staying with.
“When I first walked into the home that I am currently living in now, it felt I was never scared to talk to my friend’s mom. She was always open to giving me advice. My friend’s younger brother was always very sweet to me as well whenever I came over,” Charlie said.
As the year started to come to an end, the family invited Charlie on a summer trip to a country in the Middle East. She thought this was the last time she was going to be with the family before she would leave for Scotland to live with the mother’s side of the family at the beginning of the following school year.
“One day at dinner [in the Middle East] they just told me, ‘We love you, we want you to stay with us, whatever it takes we want you to stay.’ I was just really surprised that there were people out there like them. You don’t meet a lot of people [who] at the snap of their fingers that would just let you stay with them,” Charlie said.
Before she knew it, she had her own room in her new house and finally found stability in her life again.
“Not having my own room in my other friends’ homes really affected me emotionally because I like having my space and having time for myself. And I think now that I do have a room, I really appreciate it much more because before I went through going from home to home. I didn’t know what it was like without a room. So going through that made me appreciate it more,” Charlie said.
After being accepted into the family, Charlie formed a close bond with the mother who became her legal foster mother. For Charlie it came so naturally–she had always called her “mamma” anyway.
“It’s really nice to know that I can be a part of a family again. Of course my foster mom has her own children, which I would never want to replace,” Charlie said. “But, it’s just nice that even though we’re not blood related, they treat me like I’m a part of the family.”
The one thing that affected her was that she knew her relationship with her biological mother would never be the same.
“It’s just sad to think that it’s been so long since I’ve heard my mom say, ‘I love you’. I really miss that nurturing, but there’s nothing I can do. I know she knows that she messed up, so I’m still giving her space,” Charlie said. “I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget.”
Although she has been through ups and downs, she still manages to see what happened in a positive light.
“I think at a really young age you don’t expect a 16-year-old to know what to do or who to live with. I basically had to find places to live and know how to take care of myself without any actual guidance on my own. It’s crazy to think that I had to grow up so fast. Being on my own really showed me what the real world was like,” Charlie said.
Charlie believes she feels like at a young age she handled it the best way she could and could not be more grateful that she has found a new family.
“I could not have gotten through everything if it weren’t for the people in my life that were there for me. They really kept me going. My new family really helped me get my life back together,” Charlie said. “I was really lost before and I’m glad they helped me find my way.”