From the eyes of a Foster Child.
By Victoria Hernandez
It was a hot afternoon, and the whole family was over at the house, and that meant one thing; barbecuing, beer, and arguing. In other words, chaos. Laughing, loud music, soon crying. Everything was going perfect until there was loud banging on the door. ‘’ Parole officer, a surprise checkup !’’ The whole room fell silent, and fear set in everyone’s eyes. My mom went to open the door and they let themselves in. They took a glance around the room and started talking to my mother, she looked worried. Then she started crying, uncontrollably. She was scared, she didn’t know what to do, what to say, how to react.
The police soon arrived, and they told everyone to go outside while they searched our house. They told us to go sit down on the couch while they searched my room. After at least 2 hours of wrecking our house apart, my, uh, Aunt.. showed up, I guess we could call her an aunt, she was Nick’s and my grandma’s, brother’s wife’s sister. So, Great Aunt Rachel.
Rachel was her name. She was nice, I guess, she got along well with Nick and me, she treated us as her own kids. Nick, and I, lived with Rachel and her son, Thomas for a few weeks.
Like a big happy family, almost. But in my mind, a family doesn’t hurt the family.
It was a Friday night, I remember it like it was yesterday. All the details, stuck in my head as if they were imprinted in there. I remember Rachel telling, Nick, Thomas, and me to go brush our teeth, and then go to bed. In the room, there was a bunk bed with another bed that pulls out. Nick slept on the top bunk, Thomas slept on the bottom bunk, and then I slept on the bed that pulls out. Keep in mind, that I was 10, Nick was 6, and Thomas was 15. Everyone went to bed like any other night, we talked and joked for hours until we fell asleep. But, around 11:30, I felt a jolt, that woke me up, my pants were pulled down, and Thomas was touching me, I felt sore, all over. I started yelling at him, to stop, to get away from me. Then I pulled up my pants, and went to Rachel’s room and explained everything, at least trying. She didn’t believe me. Instead of feeling sympathy for me, she went to Thomas and asked if it was true, I mean, of course, he was going to deny it. I never told anyone. At least not anyone besides Monica.
Monica was my second cousin. We were practically best friends at first, but unfortunately, people change. But in this case, not in a good way. You see, Monica was the kind of person who takes all her anger out, by using her hands or anything she has in reach. Most times for Nathan, it was a makeup mirror, and for I, it was fists.
The beatings weren’t that bad at first. But as days went on, Monica got angrier.
One time, she pushed me against the wall and started choking me, this was because I forgot to tell her it was a short day and I walked home. Another time, she threw me on the floor and started stomping on my back and she told me that she has the ability to Kill me if she wanted to. I couldn’t walk for 3 days after that. Monica hurt Nick worse though, she would just keep on slapping his face, harder and harder, until his nose would bleed and sometimes she would use her makeup mirror and hit Nick with it until the mirror broke. Monica would threaten us not to tell anyone, or else we would have to pay the consequences. I was helpless and afraid. Every day we were afraid as to what would happen to us next. We could always tell what kind of day it would be though. If she woke up and made breakfast, that meant Monica was happy, but on the worse days, you could hear her stomping up the stairs to yank us out of bed and begin the torture.
At times when she and her boyfriend would argue, I would come up in the conversation. She would argue with him because he was always sticking up for me. I hated it when he did because I didn’t like him. When I’d sit down on the floor he would sit on the couch next to me. But he would slowly start putting his hands in my shirt and start touching my breasts, or sometimes he would tell me to sit on his lap or to lay on top of him. He just made me feel really uncomfortable. I never told Monica because I knew she would blame it on me, even though I never wanted him to touch me and then she would call me a *****. A ***** just like my mother according to her.
After they’d stop arguing, he would pack his bags and leave. That’s when I feared my life the most because that meant there was no one there to tell her to stop.
I loved to built houses, and little towns out of Legos. I had built the “Grand Hotel” from Lego Friends and I placed it in the corner of my room, and the night Monica’s boyfriend left, Monica marched into my room, picked up the lego hotel and threw it and me, then she dragged me out of bed by my hair, to the stairs , and then she pushed me down them. Of course, she wouldn’t go easy on me and stop there, she practically ran downstairs after me than she yanked me up by my neck and she whispered in my ear “ You’re worthless and you’ll just end up like a little ***** just like your mother .” It felt like those words just got imprinted in my head because those words would play over and over in my head every day.
One day at school I got called into the principal’s office and he told me that on the camera he saw Monica slap me in the face in the car. I didn’t know how to respond, I was scared. I told him she didn’t mean to and I went back to class. My heart was racing. I should have told. I feel like all of this was the fault bc I didn’t speak up, and I continuously lied to my social workers, the police, and the principal. I was dumb, and we could have been saved a lot earlier if it wasn’t for me. I think back about that almost every day. It was my duty to protect my little brother and I failed at it. I only had that one job, and I couldn’t even do that.
I might as well have been invisible. I spent 99% of my time alone and nobody really knows me, or sees me, or gets me. I had limited connections to only a couple people, all the rest are simply, nobody. I questioned my existence on a continual basis. I saw no true value in myself, or this life I live. I had no one to share my feelings with, let alone my hopes and dreams. My life was fairly easy, but it feels pointless, and I felt worthless. All I ever wanted was to focus on being happy and being loved.
I was stuck there is a stage where I felt worthless, lonely, and afraid. I want to pretend like there’s someone there to help me, someone waiting for me, but in the back of my mind I know there is no one, I know that no one is hoping for me to jump into their arms and tell me how much they love me. Have you ever felt that? It’s just the feeling where you know nothing will be alright. So I just sit there and think back to where I went wrong in my life, and how I can make things better. But a voice in my head just keeps telling me it’s not worth it, ‘cause nobody cares anyway. Nobody is even bothered by the fact that I’m not there. I was numb, I was frozen. I had nothing left inside, barely alive. Days of endless struggle, it gets harder to hide every day. While smiles hide the tears, things aren’t always as they seem. I keep looking for comfort. Inside you have to know I’m hurting, slowly breaking. My mind is hurting and I feel numb. I just want someone to hold me, to care for me, as I start to cry. Holding on to the last strand of support, the feeling of desperation, the feeling of helplessness. Hiding the hurt, hiding the pain. I was empty, no hope, no regrets.
At times I’d think about hurting myself. When I’d wash the dishes and just take a glimpse at a knife, it was just so tempting. Just to see the crimson color escape from my arms drop into the water. But I knew it wasn’t just me, I had to take care of my brother, to protect him. But deep down, I just wanted to end my misery.
I remember one night I told my brother that was going to escape that hell house. I mean, I had everything planned out, I had a backpack full of everything we would need, for at least 3 days. Around our bedtime, we both put our shoes on and went to our rooms. At the time approached to leave, I just couldn’t. I was scared, what if she caught us? What would she do? When she told me she had the ability to kill me, I believed her. I knew exactly what she was capable of. We didn’t leave. That night I knew we were never going to leave, we couldn’t run and we couldn’t escape.
I blocked everyone out for months. The only person I gave a **** about was Nick. It’s like I just devoted my life to save him from the pain I felt. I was more of a mother figure to him now than a sister. I didn’t have time to experience being a kid anymore. My whole childhood threw down the drain. As months passed by, we were already used to getting pushed around. I would dread, having to hear my brother screaming from his room and hearing the leather slap against his skin and being thrown down to the floor. I would always try to comfort him after, I would hold him in my arms and tell him it’ll all be over soon. Some nights he would come to my room, and we would pray together, pray that we would be taken away from her, and be loved again. A couple of days later, our prayers were answered. When we got home, Monica told us that we were going back to California, she had no emotion in her voice though. I thought she was lying, and I asked her why. All she said was that a social worker called her the night before and told her that we were being removed from her care. I swear that was the happiest moment of my life. As I was walking back to my room, I just broke out in tears because I couldn’t believe it, we were going to be free. When the day came to leave, Monica was crying. She said It was hard for her to let us go. I mean, how can she even have the audacity to say that? Just to even think about it? She was pretty good at putting on a show that’s for sure.
The moment we walked into that airport, I sighed in relief. We met up with our adoption worker, Cathy Matthews and she took us on from there. Cathy was really nice, and she seemed like shed know us forever by the way she talked to us. We didn’t tell her about Monica though. Even if so, Monica told us if we were to tell anyone she hit us, they wouldn’t believe us because we were just kids, and they would believe her over us any day. But thankfully, we never saw Monica since we left her.
So basically this part of the story where I open up about how I feel about Alisha. The first words that come to mind when I think of her is, careless, selfish, and probably very self absorbed. In Case you’re wondering who Alisha is, she my “mom”. The reason I have mom in quotes is because I feel like in order to be a mom you have to be there for your kids, like feed them, provide clothes for them, and actually take care of them, and Alisha did none of those things. Back to the words that I describe her with, I chose those words because, all of the stuff that she put us through. Here are some examples, when I was 7 and Nick was 3 Alisha and her boyfriend, Ricky, were arguing in the car and my mom was trying to get out of the car so Ricky was holding her down and than starting zooming off in the middle of nowhere. He stopped next to some train tracks and told us to get out, so we were trying to put our shoes on but he told us to get the hell out before our mom has to pay, so we got out and he drove off and left us there. All I could hear was Alisha screaming and crying. We were there for a few hours until some people saw us and called CPS. That was our first time in the system. Another event that happened with Ricky was he was fighting with Alisha, again, and my mom told me to get into the car and she told me to find Nick but he was out playing in the desert somewhere but I guess she was in a hurry so she said we just have to come back for him later. The next thing I remember happening is Ricky jumping on the hood of the car and punching in the windshield of the car and blood was everywhere, and my mom drove away and he jumped off. We drove to my cousin Veronica’s house. A few hours later they made up and everything was fine again, just like nothing ever happened. I never liked Ricky anyways. Whenever we were at his house it’s like he could do whatever he wanted to us. He would always hit us with his belt and if Nick was bad he was make him chug Tapatio or put some in Nick’s eye. One time he didn’t want to make us lunch so he made us eat dog food. But hey at least that was a upgrade from mud and plants.
Ricky went to prison after all for child endangerment and after he got out and Alisha went right back to him for round 2 I guess.
At this time we live with the Marvelous Mrs. Gloria now. When we first moved in, I thought this house was definitely the one, but as we all know, things change. I just felt as if she was my real mom, we got along and Nick actually listened to her without hesitation. Now that was the big bonus. We were the only two kids in the house at the moment so that was a big contribution, especially because of our situation. The reason I say that is because, well Nick has ADHD and Bipolar so he just needed more individual attention. On the other hand, for me, it was sorta the same. I didn’t have ADHD or Bipolar obviously, I just wanted someone to take some time to think about me for a second, doesn’t everyone? To be honest, I know that I tend to hide my feelings or get hurt really easily, or even have my expectations too high because no one was ever there for me. I feel like I hide my emotions a lot is because when I try to talk about them to someone I assume that I’m bothering them or wasting their time because my feeling doesn’t really matter that much. So anyways, back to the story.
After a few weeks with Gloria, Nick started to get used to her ways of doing stuff and he started to sink back into his old ways(lying, throwing fits, etc.) and she wasn’t having it so she “got rid of him”. What I mean by this is she sent him off to a group home. Truthfully, that really hurt me. Just the thought of him not being with me crushed me and now he was really gone. Now that I think back, I remember after we left Colorado, I had a visit with Monica. Right Now you’re probably thinking about how I could be so stupid, but I thought maybe she changed. It was a stupid decision.
The day of the visit Mrs. Gloria and I met her at McDonald’s and we had breakfast together, we talked a lot about how I was doing and If Nick was doing good. For those 20 minutes or so, I actually believed the old her was gone but I thought too soon. Mrs. Gloria walked away for literally less than 3 minutes just to throw the trash away and I got up to refill my cup than Monica grabbed my arm and pulled me towards her while squeezing it. My heart started racing, I was sure she was going to slap me or something but she just started whispering into my ear. She said the court was going to separate Nick away from me, and that she was going to fight to get us back with her. But before I could respond to any of this Gloria came back and we left. After that, we never saw her again. I would always try to talk to Mrs.G about my time with Monica but she never seemed interested or she would say that I should stop feeling sorry for myself because other kids go through the same thing.
At first, they began slowly like if Nick would cry I would think about when he would get slapped. But things started to progress fast. At times I would wash a dish or two the right way and with Mrs. G she would make me wash everything over again even if it wasn’t dirty, it was really annoying, but I still did it because its what was asked of me. But one day she wasn’t having a good day she just started throwing everything back into the sink and was yelling that I can never do anything right. I didn’t say anything I just walked to my room and went to lay down on my bed. I put on some music and just started to cry, and cry. All I could think about was Monica. She would do the exact thing when I forgot to clean a fork or something the only difference was Monica would punch me in the stomach after or something.