It’s pretty much a fact that I’m a tender-hearted, sentimental fool. I’ll cry at just about anything. Need someone to cry with you? Come sit next to me? I’ll cry with you.
That being said, Juvenile Court is a terrible place to be. I spent Valentine’s Day there this year. (remember, I have a stellar history with Valentine’s Day!) And the first case was a status update for a young man, 16 years old. He wants to be emancipated when he turns 17, the earliest that can happen in the state where I currently reside. From what I gathered, he is in Foster care and has been for most, if not all, his life. Neither parent was present. One was not able to be served. No one knew where they were. The other was served but, as I understood, had recently failed a drug test. No reunion would be forthcoming there. The DHS worker gave her report. He’s doing well in school, except for math. He’s got an after-school job, his learner’s permit, and a bit of an attitude, but he is 16. He’s been with his current family for over a year, the longest he’s ever been anywhere. They would recommend that he stay in his current placement. The young man joined via Zoom, and the first thing I saw, because he was leaning close to the camera to try and troubleshoot why it wasn’t working, was a huge pair of brown eyes ringed by super-long lashes. Why do boys always get those mile-long lashes we ladies would die for?
When he sat back, I saw he was slight in build, had long, delicate fingers, and was very soft-spoken. He talked about wanting to become emancipated and his goals for going to college. He was quiet, and my heart went out to this boy because it seemed like the only person he honestly had was the same DHS worker on the opposite side of the case I was there for. She was “the enemy” in my case, but I could see she truly cared for this young man in the glowing report she gave about him. Even when she talked about him having an “attitude,” it was like an aunt describing her favorite, but sometimes mischievous, nephew.
Foster children are often overlooked as those needing to identify their biological roots. Often they have a name or part of a name, but not real “family” to put with it. Many of them come from single parent households, so while they may “know” one parent, the other parent is a mystery. Working with this special group presents its own rewards, and it’s own challenges. Often they are loners because they feel like there is no one to stand with them, except maybe other foster kids, because they tend to stick together. No one can understand you more than someone in your own circumstances.
As I often do in hearings, I felt like a voyeur to this young man’s pain. And I thought about the foster children DNAngels has helped along the way. They aren’t a large part of the DNAngels client group, but we do help foster children looking for their biological parents. And while this young man was older and knew the names of his mother and father, I wondered if the man he grew up thinking was his dad was, in fact, his dad or whether someday I would see him as a client. I’d recognize his name, though he wouldn’t know I had been in the Courtroom that day. He would never know that his story touched me and that I fervently hope that wherever he ends up, he is happy, successful, and he identifys his heart’s desire. Here’s to you, kid. It’s not easy to overcome the hand you are dealt, even harder when you have no one to stand by you. But show them what you are made of kid, and give them hell.