One year ago today we received a call from DSS asking us if we would accept placement of a 16 year old foster child. We were not licensed for that age group but we said yes anyways. It was way beyond our comfort zone. They also told us that she was a runner and probably wouldn't stay more then a few days.
When you read her story think about what your thoughts are on children who are considered incorrigible. Children who run, why do they run?
The following is her story, written by her. I have only added some paragraph breaks and taken names out..........
My name is Kassi. I'm 17 years old and i have a story, just like everyone else.
I'm a foster kid.
For 15 and half years I lived with my grandpa. He wasn't the greatest grandpa and he wasn't the greatest parent either. Every day when I went to school I had a secret, not just a little secret, a life changing one that corrupted my whole life all day everyday for the rest of my life, and no one even had a clue about it. I was being abused in every way you could think at home; verbally, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Growing up and being in that house broke me. I used to cry my eyes out every single night, because I never had anyone to talk to about it. I was scared and alone.
When I was younger, about 7 or 8 years old, my older brother lived with me and my grandpa. He abused my brother and I was just too young to understand what was going on or I would have told someone. At 15 he got taken away and I remember it was the worst day of my life because he was always there for me when I needed him. After he left I was alone with my grandfather.
As time went by, slowly my grandpa started to be mean, then angry, and finally just completely crazy. I didn't understand at all what was wrong with him or what I did wrong. I never meant to do anything wrong but it seemed like everything I did was wrong to him.
I think the worst abuse I was forced to deal with was the physical. Every day I would go to school with a new secret, not just a little secret that I could tell my best friend, a life changing one. Thinking, I always thought if it ever got out my life would come falling down faster then it already has been. I would go to school crying or with big bruises; go to the store upset and faking a smile. Everywhere I went "How did you get that, are you okay"? I'd always have to make up some dumb lie. It hurt me bad to go places and having to lie, especially to my friends. I always tried to fake my smiles and attitude. I thought if I told them they wouldn't believe me or just laugh because they know how I am around them; Happy and always with a smile on my face, they never knew it was fake.
Summer 2011, I was 15 years old about to turn 16 in June and going into my junior year at high school. Everything just seemed to be getting worse at my grandpa’s house. The words were worse and the hits started getting more and more extreme. I don’t think I was ever in so much pain in my life. To deal with my pain I started hurting myself because it’s not like there was anyone there for me and my grandpa sure didn’t care about my feelings and the tears falling from my eyes. One day he was screaming and my neighbors heard him, I was so embarrassed. Getting in the car when he was mad was even more traumatic because sitting there beside him I can’t really get away from him when he hits me. All I could do is sit there and deal with it.
I never seemed to have a good day with him, and if we did it never lasted long. He’d always find something to scream at me for and an excuse to hit me. As soon as summer ’11 started I was super afraid of being home all day with him because I couldn’t talk to anyone or go anywhere with my friends. I finally just had enough with everything and I started telling the people the truth. I started opening up to my neighbors and telling them what’s been going on. Then I started running away every time something happened. I would always go to my friend’s house. When I first ran away my grandpa came and found me he was with my other neighbor that was his “best friend” he completely turned her against me and made himself seem like the good guy in this. Let’s just say after I got home I got a big scar for it.
I ran away about 20 times that whole summer and I started telling my friends family more and more about what goes on in my house. They called DSS or “Department of Social Services” and they came out and talked to me. They didn’t believe me and all my grandpa would say to me is “Don’t try it, you don’t have any proof.” I just didn’t know what to do anymore. My life just felt screwed up and I felt like why should I be here if I’m just going to continue to get hurt?
I called the cops four times and every time I was told I was an “incorrigible child”. Meaning I was the problem child. I really was just in shock; there I was crying my eyes out in front of officers that were supposed to help people in need or people that are in bad situations. My grandpa was an ex officer in the next county over. So it seemed like every officer that came out the house was my grandpa’s “cop buddy friend”. I’ll never forget what his one cop friend came up to me and said after my grandpa got done talking to him. "The way you talk, you make is sound like he beats you every day.” I just shook my head in tears. It was just unbelievable, all because I had no proof on my body. No word I said no one believed but my friend and her family. Some world huh? My grandpa always seemed to know his way with his words and how to act like he was the sweet, old grandpa he tried to pretend to be. It was sickening.
One day I got a video of him screaming at me and showing his true colors. He didn’t know I was filming. He admitted on tape “yeah I beat you, it’s because you deserve it” and so on. I finally was tired of it so when school started back up I was telling my friends what happened. 2nd or 3rd day at school I brought the video in with my friend and we took it to my school’s resource officer. We watched the video together. He looked shocked and sick to his stomach. Later on that day I was called to the front office and I went and was sat down with an investigator and he was asking all these questions and wanted to see the video.
We watched the video again and this time my principal who has heard how my grandpa was over the phone was in the room with us watching it. I looked at them, their faces all so familiar the “shocked” look. I was in the office for hours talking and crying and they finally told me that they are taking me into “Emergency Child Protection”, meaning, “the prevention of and response to abuse, neglect, exploitation of and violence against children in emergencies’’. I was taken to the DSS office and I stayed there until the found me a foster home to live at.
My social worker finally came and told me that I’m going to be living with a foster family named the “M’s”. I was confused and really didn’t know how to respond. I guess I was excited, I really didn’t know. I just knew I was relieved. Why didn’t I ever speak up sooner to anyone? August 24th, 2011 will be a date I won’t ever forget.
My social worker went to my grandpa’s house and got all my stuff, they didn’t get everything so I was kind of upset. Afterwards they got me and dropped me off at the gymnastics place where their younger daughter was playing. That’s when I met my future mom Felicia and her two daughters Sarah and Larissa. They signed the papers that said they are my foster parents and off I went to live with them.
I felt awkward at first because they were strangers to me. What do I do.? What do I say.? Everything was happening so fast. My life was changed for the better and all I knew I was finally smiling a real smile. My foster mom and dad seemed pretty cool and they quickly accepted me into their family as their daughter really quick. They had 7 kids and I was like whoa that’s a lot of kids but I realized 2 of them are adopted (Anthony and Larissa). I realized I was with a good family finally.
As months went by things start to get better and better, but some relationships with friends and other’s weren’t going so well. I was dating a guy I knew for almost a year soon right after I got moved to my foster family. But things started getting stressful with school and my past things popping up. I just couldn’t handle the stress so we broke up.
October came around and we got two new little girls in the house to be permanently adopted. We were their new family. I thought it was cool, but they were brats when they got here and were so angry, the total opposite of me when I got here. At five and six years old I don’t think I ever met a child so aggressive and mad in my life.
It’s 2012 now and I told my foster mom and dad that I do want to be adopted, because this was the first family I’ve ever really had where there’s a mom and dad around. Being here for almost a year, I’ve seen so many changes in my life, amazing ones, I got a great family and great siblings. I have met some great people along the way. If it wasn’t for that video I don’t think I’d be here in this amazing family.
God is completely amazing, he changed my life when I thought I was done for and worthless. I don’t ever want to leave this family, they saved my life. I can tell them anything when I need to talk. Being seventeen now and looking back at everything in my past it just makes me wish I would have spoken up sooner. Hiding it didn’t help at all, it just makes everything worse. I know I’ll always remember my past and all the bad things but I’ll never forget the people in that made me the person I am today. I’ve grown stronger talking about it and more acceptable with myself and who I am. Without God, my friends and family I wouldn’t be who I am right now. Hopefully soon my adoption paperwork will speed up so I can officially call myself a M.