Saturday, June 13, 2009

House for Unwed Teenage Moms

When I became an emancipated minor just shy of my 18th birthday, I went straight from my dad's cluttered kingdom to a neat, clean queendom ruled by Foster Mama.

Foster Mama specialized in the least sought-after foster kids imaginable: teenage foster girls who were now mothers themselves.

When I moved in, there was a twenty-year-old mom and her adorable three-year-old daughter. She'd been with Foster Mama since she was 16. And before that, she'd been in a group home, the last-ditch institution for foster kids who couldn't get adopted or placed in private homes. And before that, she'd been severely beaten by her own mother, who was still alive.

The other girl, who was a year younger than me, was very, very pregnant. She'd recently run away to Ohio with her boyfriend, and the cops had just brought her back. Her mother was dead. And she once admitted, with a mixture of embarrassment, sadness and humor, that her mom had tried to "rob a damned D.O.T. bus."

The saddest case was that of little Ingenue. She was 12 when I first moved in. Foster Mama had taken care of Ingenue and her two little brothers back when they were still in preschool. She had pictures of them in their little school clothes and was very close to adopting all three of them, when their biological grandmother stepped in and fought for custody. Not because the grandmother loved them, but because she wanted the welfare check.

Now seven years later, Ingenue lived in a broken-down house on the East Side of Detroit with her grandmother and a host of drug-addicted uncles, while her two juvenile-delinquent brothers ran the streets unsupervised.

(Foster Mama eventually won custody of teenage Ingenue, but the story doesn't have a happy ending. Ingenue, an unwed mother of two, was shot dead by one of her baby's fathers at age 19, in front of one of her toddlers. And Foster Mama died of heartbreak shortly thereafter.)

Moving into foster care was my first real inkling that as bad and as sad and as weird as I'd had it, there were a lot of kids who'd had it much, much worse.

I wasn't a high-school dropout with a baby. I was a high-school scholar with a future.

5 comments:

Nana said...

This is amazing. Poor little Ingenue, this is an example of how kids slip through the cracks. It is usually assumed that blood relatives are the best to care for a child, but in many instances, it isn't so. Life for Ingenue & her brothers could have been much diffrent, better. Instead, her babies are left without a mother... The cycle continues. I love your posts, I always get giddy when I see you've added a new one.

Luscious Sealed Lips said...

Sometimes you leave me speechless with nothing to write in the comment box. This is one of those posts. Only this time I can't seem to come up with anything to 'comment'.

Love you, girl!

Kisses.

nicole said...

Your blog really blows me away.
Speechless

P.S. thanks for commenting on my l'il blog,it made my day. You would've thought I had the winning ticket to the lotto!

Cheron L. Hall said...

So riveting...I can never understand how people allow themselves to be parents when they are not ready...Sometimes taking a step back is taking a step forward and is the best solution for everyone...

"Omowale"

Lex Dras said...

What you experienced in that foster home is the very thing I am fighting to prevent. Preventing children from ever falling into those tragic circumstances. I need help to bring this program to fruition. Believe me when I say, I'm trying to PREVENT it from being Mama's Fault (MamasFault.com) by enlightening females on what not to do. What were your “take aways” from that experience?

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