As I look back on this year, I can't help but reflect on the changes and insights E. brought into my life. I was first introduced to E. about 18 months ago. I was a foster parent at the time, and he was/is the older brother of my now adopted daughter. He was 16 at the time, and was waiting sentencing on a theft charge, in addition to possession of marijuana charges. As a ward of the state, the powers that be thought he would be best served by spending time in a local boot camp program run by a division of youth corrections. It was a good program, and they reached out to me and his sister for family visits. It was my first introduction to the criminal justice system for juveniles, but wouldn't be my last.
Wednesday, July 23, 5:30 pm, Friendship Hall - First Universalist Church, Denver (corner of Hampen and Colorado Blvd)
National Day Of Action to Prevent Gun Violence
Learn To Prevent Gun Violence
This diary is both a reflection of a spiritual change I went through forty years ago, and a tribute to a young man I knew at the time, one whose life was cut short by a drunk driver. In early June of 1974 I returned home from a study abroad year in Bolivia. it was sponsored by Rotary, and I was a senior in high school.
As background, I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My family was Roman Catholic, but it was a very rote Roman Catholicism. Church on Sundays, always the early service as that was the quickest and fastest, and some Catechism when we were younger. Even as an adolescent, I yearned for more.
As a junior in high school, I began dating a young man, a senior at the time, whose family lived in the town next door. His father ran the local Youth for Christ program. Much to the consternation of my mother, I began attending their services and programs. It wasn't long before I accepted Jesus Christ "as my Lord and Savior". Perhaps I had a true spiritual conversion (I doubt it now). Perhaps, as an outsider, I found a group that accepted me. It's also possible I found the only spiritual avenue available to me in the rural area I grew up in.
and find their way in the world.
A little context. Almost two years ago, I became a foster parent to an 11-yo girl, one whose parents' rights had been terminated, and who had two older siblings, a brother and a sister. It's the brother this diary is about.
About eight months after she was with me, this boy (then 15 at the time) broke into a neighbor's house and stole some jewelry. There was a camera next door, and they were pretty certain it was him. I got to know him over the summer, while he was being detained in a minimum security juvenile facility on the edge of town. The facility reached out to me as "family", and we became the ones to do the visits, take him on home passes, etc. The judge showed him some mercy at his sentencing and he was sentenced to a residential treatment facility.
Over the Christmas holiday, I wrote one of my rare diaries about a young man (16-yo) that I've gotten to know by way of my 12-yo foster daughter. He is her older brother, and he's gotten himself into some trouble with the law, as teenagers are sometimes wont to do.
I've diaried about this young man once before, so this is a bit of an update. I'm a foster parent to a young girl, who has a 16-yo brother. This older brother, along with her older sister, suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of his step-father, my foster daughter's biological father. He's struggled in adolescence, and using marijuana was one coping skill he acquired along the way.
Last spring, he broke into a neighbor's house. At his sentencing in September, after pretty much spending the last six months in two juvenile facilities, the judge gave him another chance and sentenced him to a residential "treatment" facility. Kind of a half-way house for kids. His behavior had been good enough that he was scheduled to spend three days over Christmas with us, who, along with his sister, are really the only family he has. I've come to like this kid, and both his sisters and I were really looking forward to the visit.
I'm the foster parent to a 12-year old girl. She's been with me a little over a year now, and is in the 7th grade in the local mainstream middle school. She was removed from her home when she was about 8 years old, and since then has been in 5 foster homes. She counts 14 elementary schools. I'll spare you the details about the trauma in her home life, and even in her foster homes.
She barely got by in 6th grade at this school. Toward the end of the year, we had her tested to see if she qualified for an IEP. She scored relatively high on cognitive skills, low on executive functioning. They rushed through the portion where you answer 8 or 10 questions, the answers to which determine whether you qualify for an IEP. They determined that she did not. Her guardian ad lidem was in the room and did not dispute the results. Thus, no IEP.
Nextdoor is a website that's active in my neighborhood - people selling furniture, looking for lost pets, etc. This appeared yesterday:
It is being said that I'm the "Tea Party" candidate. I'm also supported by some Black Republicans, some Hispanic Republicans, LBGT Republicans, Republican Women, Republican Men, and even some Democratic and Libertarian citizens that I have spoken to on the campaign trail. I will take all their support and bring an eclectic voice to City Council. Be heard! For honesty, integrity and passion to improve quality of life, vote for the Special Education teacher. Let's leave partisan politics to the politicians and lawyers in Chicago
My first reaction was EWW! I have Black friends, yeah for me! (and mind you, my neighborhood is about 98% Caucasian). My second reaction is, well, now I know who not to vote for. Thanks for making it easy for me.
A little background first. I'm a single woman, mid-fifties. Fifteen years ago, I adopted an older girl through the system. She was thirteen at the time, now is 28, with two adorable kids of her own. Despite some glitches, the experience was amazingly positive for me, and we're still close.
Two years ago, after a difficult break-up, I was saddled with a house larger than my needs, and decided to get re-certified as a foster parent. Might as well put the spare bedrooms in this house to use! Within weeks, an 11-yo girl was placed with me, one whose parents' rights had already been terminated (physical abuse and drug use the determining factors). Her most recent foster care placement did not work out, and she needed a new home fairly quickly. The caseworkers are anxious to have me adopt her, and we're on track for that in early 2014. (Her behavior was pretty erratic when she first came to live with me and has now settled down considerably).
This child has an older brother, who at the time she was placed with me was in a different foster home, north of town (I live in a fairly large metropolitan area). Things seemed to be going fairly well for him until last March, when we got the call that he'd been picked up by the local police for breaking and entering a neighbor's home. He was placed in the local juvenile detention facility, and within a few weeks moved to a low security, boot-camp-type environment fairly far outside of town.
It sounds grim, but he thrived in this environment. He gave up smoking, had no access to drugs and alcohol (which had been a problem in the past), and got in really good physical shape. After a month or so, his sister and I were allowed weekend visits, and not long after that home passes on the weekends, including overnight visits. As he no longer had any other home, my home was the one he stayed at. Staff was very friendly, both to us and also seemed to treat him well.
In mid-August, as he awaited sentencing, his progress seemed good enough that he was released into the community. The Department of Human Services (DHS) found him a spot in a group home, and he was released.
Ok, I know shouldn't go there, but every now and then I go to my ex's FB page, a Tea Partier if there ever was one, and he's changed his profile picture to a picture of a cracker. There really aren't words for such insensitivity. and the three or four people who think it's funny and are going to "steal" the idea. I'm almost in tears wondering how he would feel if that was his son who had been stalked and then killed.
this year. Haven't had this problem for a couple of years, having to make those uncomfortable phone calls or emails when you notifiy people that they had such a good year, Uncle Sam wants his cut. Different reasons - the manufacturing client whose exports have picked up, the retired lady whose portfolio did so well her capital gains were extraordinarily large last year, the medical marijuana guys who worked their tails off and saw a huge uptick in business. It's been about five years since I've seen tax liabilities like these. Interesting problem to have...and, now, back to those returns :-)
1. Sheriff Arpaio is a hero for pursuing the Obama birther issue, even in the midst of being ignored by the MSM
2. The long-form birth certificate was photo-shopped
3. Birth announcement ads were routinely placed in Hawaiin newspapers by foreign individuals.
4. If we could get DNA, we might be able to prove that President Obama's biological father was some man (I forget the name) who was his mentor and an avowed communist.
5. Obamacare will lead to the complete loss of our freedoms. Those who have conceal carry gun permits will be forced to wear some sort of insignia noting that.
6. The latest story about Mitt Romney's actions in high school are a diversion from the real issues.
7. As was President Obama's announcement last night. A thinly-veiled attempt to divert attention from rising gas prices and the economy. When I pointed out that gas prices had been dropping the last few weeks, no response.
Ok,you get the idea. Next time I drive my own car.
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