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I wrote this short story about a girl in the foster care system to show how challenging the system can be for kids, they are put into dangerous situations and often times they aren't able to have a voice of their own to stand up for themselves. Stories like this are the best way to show how these kids feel, how they lose hope because they feel like they don't have control over their own lives. I wanted to write this story to show how these kids feel and bring more awareness to how broken the foster care system is.
Staring out the window I tried to concentrate on the monitor flashing red and green lights in the front seat. It seemed to have a pattern, red, red, green, red, green, red, red, green, red, green and it repeated for what seemed like forever until the pattern broke and all of a sudden it began buzzing and blinking red, red, and more red over and over again. The radio buzzed to life and different numbers and some sort of coding way of communication seemed to be happening between Officer Phillip and the gentle yet stern voice over the radio. They relay numbers to each other while saying a few words here and there. Once the monitor seemed to stop buzzing and start again with the red, red, green, red, green, red, red, green, red, green pattern Officer Phillip glanced back in my direction. I could see the disappointment in his eyes, it became clear to me that he knew what I had done. I avoided eye contact with Officer Phillip and instead concentrated on listening to my surroundings.
My ears drowned into the noises I heard around me. I could hear wailing and screaming along with multiple sirens coming from what seemed like all directions. The guilt I had inside me began to raise into my throat and it almost felt like I was choking because of all the guilt I had hiding away inside of me that was about to burst.
This ride down to the police station wasn’t my first, sadly. The first time I rode in the back of a cop car was about 5 years ago, just after my 11th birthday. Growing up on the streets was never easy, it was always a constant pattern... steal food... get caught... cops are called... drive down to the police station... sent to foster home... run away from foster home because foster parents have no regard for the well-being of a ‘foster kid’... and repeat. This pattern of mine has become my lifestyle, actually... a way of life. I’d spent most of my life on my own, at least since my dad died...
My dad got really sick when I was 10 and within a few months he was gone. My dad was my hero, he raised me on his own after my mother left us and he was always there for me. After my dad passed away I was left on my own. I was put into the foster system and I’ve been drifting from home to home and street corner to corner for the past 5 years of my life.
Soon enough we arrived at the police station and I was escorted inside by Officer Phillip. As we walked through the station I could feel eyes staring at me, as we walked past other officers they looked concerned and as we walked by visitors they looked scared. We arrived at a door and Officer Phillip stopped walking, opened the door, and he said,
“Rylie, go ahead and take a seat here. I’ll be back in a second.”
I didn’t say anything back but I did as he said, I took a seat in the metal chair. The silver metal chairs look are the same as they do in the movies, and they feel as uncomfortable as you could imagine. The room is very plain, pale gray walls, with only a single table and two chairs in the room. On one wall is a huge mirror, one of those one way mirrors, I can’t see out but others can see in. I hate sitting in these rooms because I know I’m being watched, I try to act like I don’t know it but it’s true, in the other room there's probably a few cops, along with a social worker trying to figure out what to do with me.
I waited for what felt like hours until Officer Phillip came into the room, he took a seat in the chair across from me.
“Ms. Rylie Andrews... this is your 8th time in juvie... I’m really disappointed in you.” he said
“Yeah...” I said while avoiding eye contact
“Look... Rylie... I know your a good kid... What I don’t know is why you keep making choices that land you in juvie...” he said to me
I sat in silence, not sure of what to say... It was always the same conversation... he would tell me I’m a good kid... that I should start making better choices... and he expected better out of me in the future... After the usual conversation I’m usually sentences to a few weeks or up to a couple months in juvie and then taken to a new foster home... and then the pattern repeats...
“Rylie... you stole a car and crashed it... how do you want to explain this one...” he asked me
“I can’t explain this one...” I told him, which was true.
“Rylie... your gonna have to tell me or else you’re going back to juvie.” Officer Phillip said
“I can’t.” I said
“That always seems to be the case...” he said before looking through some papers he had with him
After looking at the papers he spoke again...
“Well... the police report says that you stole your foster fathers car and were driving to run away... then you got in the car accident...” he said as he read through the papers
“Yep.” I told him
“Why did you run away... again?” he asked me
“I just felt like it...” I told him
“Rylie, you stole a car... that’s against the law... and you got in a car crash... you could have gotten seriously hurt... or others could have gotten hurt...luckily no one was seriously injured...” he said
“I know.” I said back
“Ok... Rylie... Please, tell me the truth... why did you feel the need to run away?” Officer Phillip asked me
I hesitated... usually this didn’t happen... usually I just denied telling him the truth and then eventually he’d give up and I’d be sent on to spend a few months in juvie or sent to another foster home... but this time I hesitated... this is usually the part of the conversation where I denied everything... but this time I just couldn’t get the words out of my mouth. Instead, I cried... Tears fell from my eyes, onto my cheeks, and streamed down onto the table... I could feel that this was going to be my breaking point. I let my heavy head fall onto the table, it felt like a ton of bricks were being broken as my head hit the table. I kept my head down on the table as I cried... and cried... until Officer Phillip said something that I’d never heard him say before...
“We aren’t putting you back in juvie this time.” Officer Phillip said as I let my tears stream down my face
“What?” I lifted my head and asked, I was confused as to why I wasn’t being put in juvie considering I committed a major crime
“We’re sending you to a new foster home.” he told me
After sitting in silence for a few minutes Officer Phillip spoke again, he said something that he’d never said before.
“I’m sorry... I know the foster care system is very broken and a lot of your placements have been into very unsafe homes... I don’t want you to be going through this anymore so I’ve brought someone in who I think will really help you.” he said before standing up and opening the door
A women walked in, she had kind eyes. She smiled at me and took a seat across from me.
“I’ll leave you two to talk.” Officer Phillip said before leaving the room
“Hi Rylie, I’m Lena, it’s nice to meet you.” she said before extending her hand to shake mine
I stared at her hand for a few seconds before reaching mine out to shake hers, when I shook her hand, I felt a sense of comfort from her.
“Hi.” I said back after shaking her hand, I realized that I still had tears on my face, I wiped them away quickly as she began to talk again
“So I’m going to be your new foster mom.” She told me
“Ok.” I said back
“Look... Rylie... I know that you’ve been through a lot and I want you to know that my home is a very safe one and you are gonna be just fine.” she said
“Ok.” I said
“Ok then... do you want to head out?” she asked
“I guess...” I said before standing up
We walked out of the room and Officer Phillip was waiting for us.
“Rylie?” Officer Phillip said
“Yeah?...” I replied
Lena walked ahead of us to go sign some paperwork while I talked with Officer Phillip.
“You’ve made mistakes and your life hasn’t been easy... but I promise you that this foster home is going to eventually become your forever home. Everyone deserves a family and a place to call home... This one is yours, and you deserve it.” He said kindly to me
“We’ll see about that...” I replied, sounding untrusting of what he told me
“I hope I don’t see you again” he said as a joke
“Hope so too...” I said before walking to meet up with Lena
Although I had just met my new foster mom a few seconds ago... ever since we shook hands I’ve felt a sense of warmth and comfort, something I haven’t felt since my father was alive. Lena had finished signing the paperwork and was waiting for me at the door, I followed her out the door and into the beginning of the rest of my life. I left the police station that day with a feeling that I’d never felt before... Hope.. that maybe I was going to be lucky this time.
That maybe, just maybe this could be my forever home.