A Letter From Boo

 

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Received Today, Saturday 3/29/2014


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03.18.14

Dear Mom,

Song: Dear Mama
Artist: Tupac
Lyrics: “I know I can always depend on my Mama…”

Hey, first off Happy Birthday you turned 35. I hope its okay. I’ll be 17 in 41 days!
I know you’re super angry with me so I’m not even gonna talk to you about my experience out there last time…but I want to let you know. You know me, I’m not gonna say sorry because I’ve said sorry so many times and I never got better. If anything, I got worse. I want you to know though Mom it’s not your fault and it is all on me. I want you to know I’m sorry for acting a fool and not doing anything I’m supposed to. I’m addicted to that life-style…
I want you to know I miss you a lot, I miss talking to you. I miss you a lot. I’ve never gone this long without talking to you. I’m sorry I am such a mess. If you wanna call me, you know where I am.
Oh obviously you know my Dad died. Sad. Sad. Sad.
Well
Love Always,
Boo
>>>>>>>>>>


Reflections of an Erased Identity: Before

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One thing that I have always found to be highly annoying and socially antagonistic for those of us who struggle to make the simplest of ends meet – is the fact that community-based programs for children with behavioral issues are so out of reach to the targeted population who need them most.
My daughter had been displaying severe and notably precocious behaviors for more than three years before I was finally able to push my way through the proverbial red tape and connect both of us with the government equivalent of “treatment” resources; and then, upon finally being given the necessary “referrals” to track down such elusive “treatment”, I was very disappointed to learn that it consisted of little actual treatment to speak of. The available resources were mostly programs and that I had already tried without success.
The “Treatment Plan” provided through the resources made available to me after YEARS of searching was nothing more than a hodge-podge of various interns who needed the hours spent on my family’s problems in order to receive a degree:
1. A non-English speaking psychiatrist who saw my child once a month for a half-hour session, strictly for the purpose of prescribing the ever-changing array of cutting-edge psychiatric medications to my then six-year-old child.
2. A weekly support group for each of us in which we could separately share our experiences with peers in “similar situations”, and receive feedback and support (This was the BEST part of any services I’ve received thus far).
3. The installment of a “Wrap-Around Team” as a family maintenance tool; this was a cocktail of several community programs that involved having one or two social-work apprentices coming into our home at least three days weekly, for approximately four to five hours each time.
NOTE: The “wrap-around” team provided during this time consisted of the following revolving appearances by five different people; two of whom we had been assigned to upon beginning services through Eastfield Ming Quong, Families First AKA EMQ and/or EMQFF – the same entity as the residential treatment facility in which Boo was later sexually assaulted by a staff person.

As I proceeded to envelope myself within the realm of mental health advocacy for my only child, who struggled quite obviously with self-control and impulsivity issues, I found the process for special education and the acceptance of an I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan) to be exceptionally daunting and near impossible to navigate.
The task of getting an Individualized Education Plan accepted and assigned swallowed up an entire year of time during my girl’s fourth grade school year. I am an intelligent human being who is well-spoken, written, and read; with prime communication skills and am very capable – and I was shocked at the realization that it is likely that parents of average or less-than-average intelligence would be completely unable to make his or her way through such a diabolical and detail-born administrative routine – to the detriment of his or her struggling child.
After the two entire school-year calendars that it cost out of my child’s once promising educational career, she was finally deemed eligible for the services of an I.E.P. by the middle school administration when she was eleven years old. By that time, her behavior and basic traits had developed into a calculating, manipulative, and unreliable adolescent.
Her behaviors at school were continuing to escalate to dramatic levels on a steady basis. The constant shame and embarrassment began to take over my own life, as well; in response to the unnecessary and excessive lying she did to her teachers and counselors about me and our home lifestyle. The tall tales and dramatically exaggerated dialogue became a regular hobby for her – because of the instantly gratifying reactions that she unfailingly received from telling them. Often times, the school officials would summon me to the school for emergency meetings and conferences because she had said some off-the-wall things again that were simply just too bad for them to ignore – the way that I like to believe they would of done if her crazy stories had held any truth.

It’s very difficult to try and describe to another human being – the spiritual and psychological tolls that become taken on the parent of any child who is similar to mine. As the survivor of a near-fatal marriage, the only thing that comes close to the circumstantial chaos of a battered woman’s mind state, in my experience, would undoubtedly be that of a diabolical, unruly and explosive child. Take that factor and add to it the fact that I am a single, low-income, rehabilitated heroin addict-mother who works full-time to try and get myself and child by from day to day – and the outcome of our story seems undoubtedly clear, in hindsight.

Of course, life usually goes that way for me if I’m going to be honest with myself…and that is surely part of the reason that I have become so frustrated and impatient with the entire world around me – because I can’t help but to harbor awareness, no matter how distant and vague it may be, that when all is said and done and I am burying my only child, I’ll look back on this all and be able to see the creases and wrinkles of the unfolding tragedy.

I vividly recall the day that I received a call at the tax firm where I work from my daughter’s sixth grade core teacher; he asked me permission to be frank – which I promptly granted him with my heart in my throat – before he sympathetically spoke again over the line.
“Listen Ms. X, I don’t know what you do for a living…it’s none of mine or anybody else’s concern or business, really…” his words came nervously yet his voice remained calm and his tone quite matter-of-factly. “…but Boo seems to have the compelling need to share things with class – along with the parent-aids who may happen to be there on a given day – that you are a stripper –“ he cleared his throat quickly twice; “…an erotic dancer or what not…” Silence on the line. “…whether you are or you aren’t a dancer, Ms. X, I just feel like you should be made aware of the talk on the playground these days; forgive me if I am out of line or inappropriate for calling – believe me, it’s quite embarrassing from this end to discuss with you –“, his voice trailed off to almost a whisper, “…keeping the lines of communication open, as you requested, that’s all…”.
Now, when it comes to psychological warfare, my daughter’s arsenal has been stacked like a WWII bunker since the approximate time she was old enough to begin to grasp such profoundly baffling concepts. Her disturbingly keen ability to manipulate both her own relationships, and the relationships between others became apparent and undeniable when she entered school. Seeing her interact with her peers in a consistently conniving manner also alarmed me deeply; her overbearing bossiness and passive-aggressive behavior began to etch quite the chameleon into her fundamental traits – those that would be with her all of her life; those that make her who she is.
A blatantly dangerous impulsivity began to surge through her veins, all of the time – day and night; being the root cause of the evil that her choices started leave her holding in her lap. Her self-absorbed nature began to define the proverbial spoiled brat without consequence; the enabled, obnoxious and snot-nosed Shit from next door. Adults and children alike avoided interaction with her; they grew wary of her constant stream of shocking and destructive actions. Accountability or anything remotely similar to it is an issue that continues to stand, untouched and unacknowledged by her to this very day. My daughter seems to have always been unable to pay consequences for her own decisions and the effect that her choices might have on those around her.
The DFCS, as the legally bound entity charged with her “care”, has inarguably enabled this characteristic in my daughter’s perpetual self-denial; and has done so to a sickening degree.

The County Department of Family & Children’s Services entered the picture when Boo was almost out of sixth grade, upon her second release from John Muir Children’s Psychiatric Hospital within two weeks’ time. She had returned the second time for physically attacking my mother during one of her regular tantrums for not getting her way about something; only this time, she followed up by opting to kick her grandma in a healing surgical wound only several days post-op. I was at my wit’s second end by that point, and had exhausted any and all of the public resources available in the area of trying to find a working solution to the out-of-control behaviors of my child. My options ran out and I was forced, through the pits of desperation, to involve social services – as much for my own sake as for my daughter’s by that point in time.
I remember having days in which I would feel something very close to disdain for my only child because of her embarrassing, encompassing and incorrigible ways; I had many days spent thinking about how much better things may have been had I not given birth to this extremely defiant, highly unlikeable little creature and shit away so many thankless years in trying to correct her incredibly incorrect behaviors.

Life as a mother, for me – was pretty much a constant three-ring circus in Hell’s ghetto during the summertime: nowhere to cool off and wild, angry animals trying to bite your face off with every turn.

Once she had been court-ordered to residential “treatment” by the local juvenile court system, I actually felt like there was some substantial hope of a better future relationship between the two of us. Unfortunately, the way in which the courts are designed is severely flawed and perverse in its ability to safeguard parents such as myself: parents who were not the underlying purpose for the court’s involvement with the family.

This was where things first part of our case went awry, as a result of the incompetence associated with the shadiness of state and local child protection laws. I was unknowingly labeled incorrectly way back then, by those involved with the course of me and my child’s future, and never given a second thought after that point in regard such a mislabeling of my character and priorities.

 

Something to Chew Around…

BooI would like my readers to chew on something for a few moments upon reading this post:

Boo, who has a very over-bearing and highly involved mother, and always did – from the first day that she entered the miserably broken system – has been treated horribly as a result of being brave enough to speak up about something that she knew was very wrong on some level or another;

Boo has been ridiculed and labeled as a liar and a wayward, targeted by a county-funded, judicially backed agency as a source of trouble as a direct result of being victimized by a child sex predator.

Boo has been moved farther and farther from me over the YEARS since this incident occurred, by the courts – while they totally tried to sweep the whole thing under the carpet for TWO years.

Boo was only vindicated as VICTIM #1 (nearly 3 years after she was called a liar, deemed unfounded, relocated twice, the second time: OUT OF STATE, after the facility up north failed as well due to her inability to feel safe there) when another little girl who was at the place with the pedophile was brave enough to speak up and say something about what he was doing to her regularly.

Boo has paid the ultimate price for the short-comings of the Child Protection Services and Department of Family & Children’s Services: she has paid with her own chances of any real relief in this life.

Now, with those reminders being noted – think about this:

Most of the children in this broken ass system are there because they have NOBODY. Most of them are pretty much alone in a system that operates in the ways in which I have been detailing in this blog…can you imagine what the future might look like for those kids? The ones who have NOBODY to speak up for them, to follow up on them, to stand on someone’s chest for them, to be arrested (seven times and counting) in order to have their needs heard…? I can. This notion haunts me day and night, and always has since I realized the living Hell that these kids are legally bound to by this bullshit, perversely incensed, systematic failure of a court that claims to protect their “best interests”.

Justice For Boo – Part II – The Reaction

The next piece of this tragedy is one of the MOST UNBELIEVABLE aspects to the entire nightmare; it is the point in which everything slipped from my control permanently; the point in which I lost Boo forever I was still too fucking blind to realize it.

I remember after taking her to the facility (I had already been arrested for not returning her when I said I would and been held in contempt of court orders etc.) and making certain that the pedophile would not be on shift, going to my parents’ house and unloading my fears and giving them a recap of the conversation with Boo.

Within an hour, I was sitting at my laptop, writing an email to the facility’s supervisor, director, clinical director, house manager, therapist and Boo’s case worker – describing the conversation and its details in full. I closed this email with the demand that:  1) the individual in question be separated from Boo totally until further notice, and 2) that my concerns were immediately addressed.

RED FLAG #1:

I heard nothing for 2 days; and when I did finally hear from my daughter’s therapist from the facility, it was to be informed of the sexual assault that had occurred the day before. (The sexual assault against my then 13 year old daughter, one executed by the VERY SAME MAN that I had sent warning about only 2 days prior.) The incident had taken place in between the time that I had emailed the warning and the time that I received a response, in the form of a “formal investigation” that was quickly deemedunfounded” and dropped.

Boo had, like many, many child victims of sexual assault end up doing during the investigatory stage, recanted her initial allegation – she suddenly claimed that the person with whom she had sexual intercourse with over the previous weekend – had been a boy from school that she had supposedly snuck into the facility through her window; a story that I NEVER believed for a nano-second. My feeling has always been founded solidly that she was trying to protect him from being in trouble; and that she immediately experienced and saw the way in which the few people she had confided the truth in had reacted to her allegation of a grown-ass male employee having sex with a thirteen year old child “client” on grounds – and was essentially intimidated into changing her story (she now claims that this was an accurate assertion on my part).

RED FLAG #2:

EVERY SINGLE “professional” involved with my kid’s so-called “treatment” and “rehabilitation” was perfectly okay with accepting Boo’s sudden change of stories, without question or a second thought towards further investigation of what had the potential (and sadly, ending up becoming) a huge breach of the children’s safety – Boo was “Janey Doe AKA Victim #1 of 17, years later, in court documents that came way too late.

Secondly, the facility (nor a single one of its handfuls of legally mandated child abuse reporters) didn’t find it necessary to involve the local police, and wanted to handle things “internally” along with the concurrently running CPS “investigation”. The police would not have been brought into the scenario AT ALL, had Boo’s school principle (who was incoincidentally already a stationary figure in Boo’s middle school career) not taken his own role as a mandated reporter seriously, and reported my report to him – “out of legal liability to do so”.

RED FLAG #3:

Location! Location! Location!

Upon the allegation being made and the police finally being dragged into involvement, Boo was consequently asked to leave the facility within seven days of police involvement. Her social worker claimed that there wasn’t time to find a “placement” that was legally in-line with the court’s order regarding her specific treatments needs and goals – that the only option we had was to send Boo four hours north from home. Once again, the case DFCS omitted details as serious and life-changing as sexual assault and harassment against the very child it was claiming to protect and rehabilitate. Again, I had to get myself arrested in order to be heard by anybody who had any power (the judge). Unsurprisingly, the judge claimed no knowledge of the events unfolding outside the courtroom, despite the fact that she is technically my kid’s legal guardian while Boo’s on her caseload.

(Way to go with follow up!)

Justice For Boo – PART I – The Discovery – 2009

BOO’S STORY:

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The restaurant was dimly lit and the mood was calm and easy, hushed voices whispering stories to one another throughout its interior. It was the place where we had celebrated my daughter’s past few birthday dinners, at her request; she had taken a liking to seafood as she grew up. Personally, I don’t care for it too much, but like most things in motherhood, that factor washed out the window with my child’s stated wishes. There we sat, talking about school and her wide array of “frenemies” there; her face randomly becoming lit by the shadows of light dancing around the archaic candle at our table – her increasing beauty affecting a slap in my face from Good Ol’ Father Time, I recall.

“Can you believe you’re already thirteen?” I teased her across the table, snickering and rolling my eyes in an effort to provoke her into a response.

Our relationship had been heavily strained leading up to this night: her thirteenth birthday – an estrangement that happened as a result of the local courts and child welfare agencies. We had been separated for nearly a year at that time, the very first year of our two-unit family’s still unrecognized, yet inevitable demise; the very first of a long string of years lost down the drains of time.

An imposing wedge in the form of a gavel had been forcibly squeezed between us with a shoehorn. We had suffered a trauma to our daily lives when she had been court-ordered to “residential treatment” at a nearby facility for children who suffer from behavioral issues (which Boo most certainly did).

“No…..it feels like I should be turning sixteen already…” was her response from across the heavily lacquered shine of a redwood tabletop, her large, hazel doe eyes shot up again to meet mine “…feels like I’ve been gone forever…”Boo’s reply was not one of anger or bitterness, as is often the case when it comes to the things Boo says.

And so it goes: A simple observation of Boo’s reality regularly and innocently transforms into a crushing blow to my own.

I reached over and grabbed her greasy hand, locked my fingers tightly around the little fingers so likened to my own, and said, “This’ll all be over before you know it, Kiddo…hang in there, we’re almost done.” Boo smiled, a smile that has the ability to melt away every bad notion that’s ever entered my mind, body or soul, and simply said, “I know, Mom.”

The rest of our dinner had been eaten without incident; and when the waiter and some random servers from other tables came around with a slice of cake topped off by a candle and an obnoxious level of un-harmonized singing, she happily accepted the attention and dessert offering. It was during this last part of her birthday meal that everything changed forever.

She began to talk about her counselor, a man with whom she had grown very fond of and close to over the time she had been at the facility the judge ordered to go to; a man in whom I had always secretly harbored a deep distrust for and could not put my finger on exactly why that was. The details remain blurry but the end result stands out like a black sheep among newborn albino lambs:

–         My daughter proceeded to absentmindedly and unintentionally (by attempting to show off how mature she was becoming while away from home, I believe) spend over twenty minutes describing to me in a bragging-like manner (because she was not yet old enough to even comprehend that a crime was being committed against her) – the gut-stabbing realities that defined a new direction being taken in the “relationship” between she and her “one-to-one counselor “at the facility, and it was anything, but acceptable.

This was the true beginning of my own Living Hell, making the time and ALMOST the life I had lost to Boo’s father pale in comparison to the grief, despair, hopelessness, helplessness and injustice that accompanied this night’s discovery of a pedophile on the county payroll, counseling children in a facility to which 90% of them are court-ordered to be.

 

http://americanainjustica.wordpress.com/category/justice-for-boo/

Seeing Renee

I saw Renee today; all grown up and covered in dark make-up, hair twisting down to her ass in shiny, sleek braids and tresses; she looked beautiful – sixteen and a half years old already and driving her father’s beat up old blue pick-up truck… Renee and Boo used to be best friends for like – EVER, in the ‘hood. They went to different schools but played every day after homework was done, took each other on family trips and so on. By the time that Boo had to leave home in exchange for a “residential treatment facility” because of her increasingly unruly behavior, the girls had grown apart for the same reason: Renee is a tried and true “angel”, without a mean bone in her body; Boo is natural-born and rightful Hellraiser. Seeing Renee today, so happy and full of life and promise and bright futures wide open to her, I have to confess I was stricken by some sort of jealousy or envy – CORRECTION – I was nearly consumed by it. I spoke to her for a few minutes about her dad and dogs and whatever other things I could think up to say as I watched her eyes dart everywhere around us, looking for Boo – searching for Boo with so much hope and excitement barely contained behind her eyes. It always goes this way when I see one of Boo’s friends, or better yet: a parent of one her friends – someone who knows very little about me and my daughter’s trials and tribulations – someone ready to spit venomous and projected judgments at me, I finally shot out my hand and grabbed Renee’s arm, surprising myself with my own sudden decision, and said, “Renee, you and Boo might be totally different and worlds apart these days, but she’s been MIA on the run for almost 2 months and just found out that her father died; yeah – her father died, yeah, the one that’s been in prison – he died; she just returned from AWOL yesterday morning to hear that news, and…well, you know how she is…she could probably use a friend, a real friend right now…” My eyes stared down at the concrete where we stood in front of the donut shop, my grasp still tight on her arm. Her response was almost immediate, and painfully sincere; she said, “I love Boo and always will, but I guess it’s because of that, well that’s why it’s too hard to be friends with her…you know?…because she hates herself so much…” I choked up, but covered it beautifully behind my dark sunglasses; I smiled down at her, my grip loosening slowly and gently, so as not to imply any offense or resentment towards her. “I know, Kiddo…” I said, “I understand…”