The Home in San Francisco

•March 22, 2013 • 1 Comment

My next foster home was in San Francisco. This was 1989, the year of the earthquake. The earthquake story is now somewhat humorous to me, however a lot of what went on in this foster home was not amusing at all.

They were a couple who appeared to be in their forties. For some reason they had been unable to have children of their own and they had already adopted a daughter (L). I was coming in as a foster-adopt situation. L. had behavioral issues, but she had been with them for years and as I was the new kid they tended to believe her over me.

Upon arrival, all of my toys and most of the clothing I had brought from my previous homes were taken from me. They believed that children should not play with toys but should occupy themselves by reading the Bible (or a select few Bible story books) or doing housework. My clothing was taken away either because it was found to be immodest (a lot of my dresses were about mid-thigh length, but they were worn with thick tights… come on, I was six years old) or simply because it was a tie to my history. What was most distressing is they took away Toby- a stuffed cat that I had been taking with me from home to home ever since I left my birth family. They could have taken the rest of the toys from me (though I did not enjoy it) but when they took away Toby I was devastated. They claimed it was proof a demon lived in the stuffed animal.

One thing that struck me as somewhat odd is that when I first came to their house I was not being sent to school. I was being taught in the kitchen, using what I now recognize as A Beka materials. Secondly, they refused to talk to me in English. I was being taught in French. I did not know a word of French when I walked into their home and I lost it very quickly after I was taken away from them. I would be punished for replying to them in English, even if I did not know how to reply in French. A time or two I even had cayenne pepper poured onto my tongue to teach me not to talk to them in English.

Eventually, the state found out that I was not being sent to school, and I was still technically a foster child they required me to be sent to a public school. This went against the very grain of their being, but they knew they would lose me if they did not comply. I don’t think the state of California ever found out that I was not supposed to speak English in their home or what happened to me if I did.

The story of the earthquake is somewhat humorous. It was in October, and I was getting my bath and was going to be put in bed when I noticed waves in the tub. Well, she had forgotten to bring in a towel, and there was no time to get my clothes back on me, so I was raced outside, right in my birthday suit. Good thing I was only six years old, but I have never forgotten it. It was humiliating at the time. I wish I had at least had a towel.

Things got worse following the earthquake. Achievements and good behavior were not rewarded, bad things and misbehavior were punished severely. L. was a bedwetter, but they had believed she grew out of the problem (she was 10.) I had never been a bedwetter, in fact if you remember I potty trained myself. Well one morning after I got up she peed on my bed (she was jealous of all the attention I was getting, I think) and she told them I had wet my bed in the night. I did not go to school that morning. Or the next. In fact, I was locked in my bedroom for the next couple of months (L. moved out to the living room) and not allowed to use the bathroom. I got to eat maybe a couple of pieces of toast in a day (if I was lucky, some days they forgot to feed me at all, or refused to) and whipped with a belt (and often the belt buckle) at night when he came home. Then I was subsequently raped by both him and the woman night after night and then tied back onto the smelly bed. I was tied whenever I was not eating or being raped, and the door was locked behind me.

One day, they either forgot to tie me up again, or thought I wouldn’t try getting out as I had become rather complacent. They were wrong. Although we lived on the third story of an apartment complex, I had to get out, or die trying. I opened the window, knocked out the screen, and just jumped. Looking back I’m sure I could have died, being about three feet tall and only weighing around twenty-five or thirty pounds, but miraculously I survived and was not even injured besides for a little bit of bleeding on my hands as they touched the concrete when I fell. Then I unlatched the gate of the shared backyard and ran across the street. Right into Golden Gate Park.

Now, being in that park alone is scary enough at night if you’re an adult. As a child, it’s even scarier. It’s a haven for the local homeless. There were search parties for me, I saw them. I even saw the couple, who were searching for me themselves. They were a mere five feet from me at one point. But miraculously, I was not seen. So it went for three nights. I went to get water from fountains after most people had left the park and used the bathrooms then. I saw a few of the homeless but I don’t think they saw me.

On the fourth day, I was found by a lone police officer. He was kind and asked me why I had run away. I did not know how to describe rape but I told him that I was being hit with the buckle of a belt. So instead of being taken back to them right away I was taken to the police office, where my social worker was called in and pictures were taken of my bruises, etc. I don’t remember exactly how long it was until I left them for good, but I did have to go back as there was no other place to put me for a while. 

However, the day came when I was loaded back into my social worker’s car and driven away to yet another foster home.

 

As far as I know, the couple who did this to me never had to face jail time.

Foster Care (Part One)

•February 23, 2013 • 1 Comment

Okay so I’m finally getting back to this. Things have been tough recently, though I’m not going to go into details about this. I don’t want to derail the point of the blog. I believe I already talked about my earliest memories in this blog. Now I’m going to talk about the early foster care experiences, as much as I remember, and some feelings I have about it now.

When I was three and a half, I was for some reason, taken out of my birth home and placed in a foster home in Ukiah, CA. I do not remember anything about this first experience in the foster home, I do know however that I was given back to my birth family for a time and then returned to the foster home around four and a half or five years old. What I do remember is this foster home was full; there were ten children there, and it was supervised by an older couple and sometimes their daughter. I remember asking about their daughter when I was young, as I did not have a grasp that children grew up, and thought that she would be one of us. I was surprised to see a grown woman, whom the couple called their daughter, come to help occasionally.

Things were tough there. Sure, we had a roof over our heads, but as I was malnourished from my birth home, I don’t think I ever remember feeling full. I know that foster homes are given a certain amount of money for each child they shelter, but I don’t believe it’s enough to cover the entire cost of what the child needs, and this couple did not work; they were retired. They had good enough hearts but I think they bit off more than they could chew. Physical needs were for the most part taken care of, scraped knees cared for, but there was a lot of emotional neglect.

One highlight of this time that stood out to me is one day my birth mother visited, bringing in her arms a tiny bundle. It was my fifth birthday, and she was bringing me my birthday present (a PacMan book bag) and showing me my baby sister, whom she had been able to bring out for the first time. Remember this fact, more about this will come out later.

I don’t remember much after that, or when I was transferred to my next home. This was a couple with two teenage sons (well, one was twelve) who had been unable to have children after that and wanted a daughter. It was to be an adoption placement eventually, but as in all placements there is a period of time where you are considered to be a foster home for the child. It seemed to be a good home, they were fairly well to do. We had a pool and I had a pony. I had lots of toys and pretty dresses; she liked me looking like a doll. My hair was waist length back then. I was still tiny, but gaining. It seemed like it was an ideal home, ideal family. But one day, my things were packed away in paper bags and I found myself in the car of a social worker once more. The man had been in an affair, and the wife was divorcing him.

The next home was so dysfunctional that I am going to need a blog post to itself.

Time to get back to the blog

•February 11, 2013 • 1 Comment

I realize I haven’t been very good about keeping this up. I slacked off when my husband had his graduation and the events leading up to that. Then I decided that what I had to say wasn’t important anyway. Then I’ve had all sorts of issues lately, and my husband had a blood test that confirmed his lupus has come back, and things have just been nuts. Also I just don’t know how to write about the next section of my life. There isn’t enough on each foster home to warrant an entire post about each of them, but one of them I could write reams about. I guess I could introduce it in the last bit of my next post, then write more about it in the following post. I realize I’m just writing for the sake of writing right now, but I haven’t gotten anything out lately and maybe I need to.

Modesty

•December 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I apologize for my absence. Things have been really crazy this past week and a half or so, starting with events surrounding my husband’s graduation and the fact that after a busy week I usually need some time to recover. Also I haven’t really figured out how to write what comes next chronologically speaking, so I’m going to address an issue I’ve been dealing with recently.

Growing up, I had very mixed up views of modesty. To this day I still have trouble trying to determine what is modest or not. I very much want to dress modestly, as I feel that a Christian woman should, but what is the definition of modest?

Unlike some homeschooled girls, I was allowed to wear jeans. No pants to church, of course, but I was allowed to wear pants on a normal day. However over the years it seemed that my family wanted me to hold to a higher standard, especially at church. Eventually at church I was pretty much required to wear ankle length, flowing skirts (the skirt could not show the form of bottom or hips) and loose blouses. I could wear a mid-calf length skirt if I covered my lower leg with boots or thick stockings. At all times I had to wear shirts that were so large on me that they barely hinted of any bust at all, and they could not show past the collarbone. Back when I could have fit a size medium I was forced to wear an extra large. Eventually my own thinking became so warped that I believed that was my actual size. According to that logic I would currently need to be wearing a XXL, or about a 20-22.

Then there was this sense that to be “modest” one should wear clothing that would not stand out. But the very fact of how loose my clothing was and how much I had to be covered was, by this definition, immodest. Eventually this was lifted and I was allowed to dress in whatever style I wanted, as long as I could find it at Goodwill, and could buy it myself (kinda hard with 10 cents a week allowance and no job.) I don’t remember having an item of clothing during my teen years (except for undergarments and shoes, and shoes only because I had gait issues) that was brand new.

I think this is part of the reason why I am so intent on buying the clothing I like and having my own crazy style now that I am 30 years old… until I was 27 I wasn’t really allowed to. I remember sometimes being sent away from home only to find that certain items of clothing that I had bought for myself had disappeared once I got back (I had a summer job when I was 18, and had saved up money from that… mysteriously all $3,000 of it had disappeared by the time I was 21… I had over $2500 of it left the previous year. My mom stole it.) See, they were the tiniest bit rebellious. One, a green peasant blouse, a little clingy but did not show cleavage. Another, another kinda clingy shirt with a narrow deep V neck that also did not show cleavage. But both were well under the collarbone “rule” and both mysteriously disappeared from my bedroom regardless of the fact that I had bought them when I was an adult.

I still struggle with picking up clothing that is too large for me and taking it to the fitting room. I have found myself surprised how in some brands and styles of tops I fit a size 12-14 rather than the 18-20 that I THINK I need. While I have recently lost about 10 pounds for no apparent reason, that doesn’t justify two sizes smaller.

Granted, for modesty’s sake there are styles I do need larger sizes in, or I can’t wear them at all because I am busty. But usually what happens is I need like a 20 to cover the bust but I have 8 inches of extra fabric on the waist. This is plainly ill fitting, so nowadays I don’t even bother getting the top. My mother would have said that was a perfect fit.

I try to use my husband as a gauge to see if something fits correctly. I’m pretty sure he hates this job, but I like him sitting outside of the fitting room, because then I can see his reaction. He is able to tell me if something is clearly too large for me. If his eyebrows raise, it might be the proper fit. If he looks like he just wants to grab me right in the middle of the store… well then it might be too tight or too revealing, etc.

Have any of you struggled with the same issue? Are you still struggling? Do you have any suggestions? Think my style is too whacky for being 30?

30, but not 30.

•December 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I am physically 30, but I am nothing like the typical 30 year old, at least not where I live.

I am married, which in this area for a woman is expected by 22, if not earlier. I got married when I was almost 27. We have no kids. Most women my age here have two or three children by my age. A couple even have four. I have nothing in common with thirty year old women in my area. Their lives tend to revolve around children, and if not children, then their work. I don’t even have a job. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I feel that there are certain “milestones” to meet before you hit 30, and I haven’t met any of them. Things like having a career (not just a job) and a degree. I have neither. Things like a down payment for your first house. I’m still renting, and barely affording a roof in the poorest sector of town. And this is an area with a low cost of living. Things like knowing how to drive.

My family hindered my independence at every turn, to the point where I had to become homeless in order to take charge of my own life. But I fear it’s too late.

Beginnings

•December 8, 2012 • 1 Comment

Everyone, and everything has a beginning, and I believe that in some ways a person’s beginning has an influence on their life. Although I did not end up growing up in the family I was born into, it has still affected me.

I was born to a drug and alcohol addicted mother, and from what I can gather, I lived in that home until I was three years old, when I was taken away and placed in foster care, then apparently I got to go back to my birth mother for a while, then I was taken back to foster care again at about 4 and a half. While I do not remember much of what happened before I was five, three main scenes come to mind. I remember the day I needed changed and nobody came to my aid, so I climbed out of the playpen on my own, went to the bathroom where the diapers were stored, and changed my own diaper. I remember the day where my birth mother, her boyfriend, and several of their friends thought it would be funny to pour a few sips of beer down my throat. I also remember the day when my birth mother’s boyfriend beat me for no apparent reason, and it caused a nosebleed so bad I landed in the hospital.

I am not sure when all these events happened. For a while, because I did not appear to be a crack baby, or have fetal alcohol syndrome or anything like that, I must have appeared to be a fairly normal child. But things happened in these early years, or maybe perhaps I was born with them, that made learning difficult for me.

The foster care stories will come soon, and I apologize if I’m writing about stuff that you don’t care about so far, but I need to write this for myself. It also sets the background for the main part of my story.

A New Decade of Life

•December 7, 2012 • 1 Comment

Today, I bridge the gap between young adult and adult. My twenties have passed, and there is no bridge back to them. Today, I am thirty years old and feel that I have accomplished nothing with my life. I have been hindered at every turn.

The purpose of this blog is that as I enter this stage of my life, I will begin to write, and heal from the wounds that have scarred my life. This may be a short post today, but I WILL write about the wrong done to me and how it still affects me today. I will try not to make it too confusing, and thus I will start in chronological order.

Occasionally I may lighten the tone and throw in bits of my crazy style, but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum.

Here I write. And if you, the reader, do not see a new post each week, please feel free to encourage me to write some more. Thanks.

 
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