"My son is now in foster care." by richard ross

I live with my mom and my sister. I’ve been here three times . . . Now I’m waiting for a different placement. I was in my first placement at 12. I AWOLed from school a lot. I started hanging out with my boyfriend. I though it was okay because I looked at a lot of magazines and everyone seemed to be just hanging out. The first time I came to placement a social worker came to school, this old guy, and said, “I’m taking you to a group home.” It was six kids in Orange County. I also had to go to a new school. I stayed there two months, then I AWOLed. I met up with some girl and we split and I just slept at her house for three days. Then I arranged to meet with my cousin through Facebook and he sort of set me up. They took me to a mental health lockdown for three months. But then I had to leave because MediCal only pays for 90 days. So they took me to a group home in Hollywood. I was there for three months and then I graduated. I went home. CA_Central_12_15_13-13

 I though it was okay because I looked at a lot of magazines and everyone seemed to be just hanging out.

I got pregnant at 14 while I was in placement. My son is now in foster care. I saw him last month. He’s a year and two months. He’s beautiful. His father is the boyfriend that I AWOLed from the second time I was in placement. My first placement was in Torrance. It's a bigger facility. Then I asked the court to release me to a shelter in Hollywood. So I stayed at a homeless shelter. It was a DCFS hold for runaways. I stayed there 30 days, the max. I AWOLed with a different boyfriend. Yea I do some drugs, weed, meth, I pop pills, ecstasy, mollies, and inhalants like NOS. They use it for speed car racing. I’ve never had to prostitute. I have my second boyfriend’s name tattooed on me. He’s a gang banger, 18th Street Gang. There’s both Latinos and Blacks in the gang. What’s this for? Is this gonna be on TV or something?

-W.T., age 16


**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.