“Youth Voices” is a space for stories told directly from our community’s foster youth. Youth who have been in the Dependency Court System in Santa Cruz County are invited to share their thoughts, stories, gratitude, art work, sentiments, etc. with our community.
Former foster youth, Ana, shares in her own words how she lost her voice while in the foster care system and how she found it again.
A former foster youth shares her experience of entering into foster care at the age of four, moving various times, and attending 12 different grade schools. And, how, despite all the obstacles, was able to believe in herself and her future.
So, I was pregnant, with a job but living in a foster home with no tools, and with no support system aside from my foster family. I tried reaching out to my biological mom to tell her she was going to be a grandmother. She told me not to count on her and hung up. So, then there was that added to my pregnancy stress. I found a place to move to with my baby and the father of my baby. With the emergency Section 8 voucher I was granted (which was the only good thing that happened to me, housing-wise), I was able to secure a place. Two bedrooms for my little family.
Well, this new group home was in a nice, big house. It did not resemble a group home at all. It was very quiet. It had many rooms and only two girls in each. I liked the warm feeling of the house and the staff there were actually very nice and welcoming. There were more Latina girls there and it was only a matter of hours before I was part of the house. They had a huge back yard full of weeds and trash, but it had potential to be a nice place to hang out in the summer, if it was cleaned, and if I stayed there till then.
I stepped to the edge of the sidewalk. As I was going to step into the street as cars were coming, the social worker grabbed my arm. We drove to my house to get a few of my belongings and saw my stepdad being hauled away. The shoe he had used to hit me was in an officer’s hand and he was in handcuffs. As the worker and officer walked me inside, my brother asked me if I was happy that I “had destroyed his family.” If I was happy with “what I caused.” My sister was just sad and didn’t quite understand what had happened. I was taken to an emergency placement outside of town, in Hollister somewhere. I ran away because I didn’t know where I was. I remember somehow making it back down to Watsonville and being placed in a group home in the middle of nowhere.
I come from a home that consisted of abuse, drugs, and violence, low income, and very little support. My bio-dad was an alcoholic, drug addict, with a violent history, who had sexual predatory behavior. My mom worked often to escape the abuse, but most of the time that didn’t work. My little brother who did not always see the same punishments or abuse that I did. Maybe it was because I was a girl, and he was the boy and baby of the house. He managed to escape a lot of physical punishment but did witness mine and sometimes my mom’s abuse. Being undocumented and having undocumented parents made it all worse because we were taught to not say anything, trust no one, and if we did, there would be harsh consequences. So, we knew not to say much to anyone at an early age.
Please join us in celebrating M Pacheco (pronouns Ella, They, Them), an amazing young Latinx whose resilience, accomplishments, and optimism is extraordinary. M entered foster care at age 10 and remained in the system until they turned 18. M went on to accomplish some amazing things, including recently earning their Masters in Social Work from Columbia University, where they had three graduations -one for their entire program, one for Latinx graduates, and one for the LGBTQIA+ graduates, the Lavender Graduation. We are thrilled to celebrate M’s accomplishments.
"The Karate Kick" is a short story submitted by Shay, an 18 year old foster youth in Santa Cruz County. CASA is dedicating space in our communications to share "Youth Voices" to share their stories.