PostedNovember 27, 2017
Tagsfaith, fostercare, giving back, inspiration, overcoming obstacles, poetry, runaways, sexual assault, shelters, youth in crisis
Babygirl: Prequel to the Search for Catherine (Vol.1)
In 1977, siblings Tina, Michelle, and Leon Hilton live with their mother, Catherine, in Detroit. Although times are tough, Catherine does the best she can with the support of her mother-and in spite of the abuse she receives from her boyfriend, Victor. When eleven-year-old Michelle is accidentally injured, a caseworker from Child Protective Services visits the family. Later, Victor’s drug stash is found in their house, and soon the three siblings are taken from their mother and placed into separate foster homes. Over the next several months, Michelle experiences a number of foster homes that lead her to question and challenge the lifestyle and sense of identity that she has experienced thus far, significantly affecting her self-esteem, purpose, and well-being. Meanwhile, Catherine works to put her life back together and win back custody of her children. This is the story of a family dealing with physical and emotional abuse, substance addiction, and the foster care system as one girl grows to young adulthood in the face of unusual odds.
The Search for Catherine (Vol. 2)
This is the story of Catherine Hilton, a mother struggling with substance addiction and domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend, Victor Sinclair. When Catherine’s home is investigated, Child Protective Services (CPS) intervenes, Victor is sent to prison, and she loses her children to the foster care system. Determined to turn her life around and regain custody, Catherine seeks rehabilitation. For a while, everything seems to be moving in a positive direction until Victor returns from prison. To Catherine’s dismay, her long journey with rehabilitation seems to come to a close and she finds herself in the same situation, once again. To ensure the safety of her children, she must remove herself from the lives of all those she holds dear; there’s no other choice! Of course, the children are devastated; they long to see their mother again. Catherine has every intention of returning for them, once she can be certain, Victor no longer poses a threat to their safety or the normalcy that they deserve. Yet, will Victor allow this? Will Catherine stay clean? Will she ever have a normal life with her children again and what will happen to the children during her absence? Catherine’s brothers launch a full-scale search for her and will stop at nothing to find her. The Search for Catherine begins!
Black Butterfly: The Journey – The Victory (Vol. 3)
Black Butterfly is a compilation of poetry that speaks to the silence of loss, fight for families, and love for foster children. With consideration to the daily realities that foster children or youth may experience, Black Butterfly embodies real-life issues through faith-based reflections. This poetry compilation is dedicated to the foster child, youth-in-crisis, and individuals who are striving to attain positive change.
At the age of four, I was placed in foster care. There were four homes in total, yet only the last two, provided positive influence in my life. However, because of former abuse and pain, I began to journal. Unfortunately, harsh realities spilled into my journals. I was so thankful when my biological mother petitioned the court to regain custody of my siblings and I. So, when she passed away when I was only 13 years of age, I was devastated. To make matters worse, I found myself in the foster care system yet again. With consideration of the issues and challenges leading to foster care placement, one thing is for certain, a mother’s love is irreplaceable.
In retrospect, I can say that each foster home presented a new set of challenges with some traumatic experiences that no child should ever have to face. With this, there were also challenges that didn’t make it any easier. For example, the challenge to adapt to new surroundings, to bond with new parents and siblings, to adjust to new school settings, to fit in, to find purpose, and more.
Undoubtedly, there was frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety and while the foster care system’s primary goal seemed to ensure that financial needs and education were met, the psychological aspect of learning to adjust and overcome trauma, resulted in withdrawal.
I became as the caterpillar, trapped within a cocoon. Love and a longing to be accepted were desperately sought after; likewise, was the desire to be understood. Who nourishes the soul, the spirit, and the mind? Who holds the hand of the little girl and tells her, she’s going to be okay? I am so thankful to have had a foster mother that supported emotional development and overall wholeness.
While my journal illustrated the life of a foster child and youth-in-crisis, its poetry and prose spoke to the silence of loss and gave voice to unspoken realities that foster children may face when voice became lost among political processes. To bring awareness to the foster care experience for those currently in foster care and those aging out, I published the journal as “Black Butterfly: The Journey – The Victory.”
As a former foster child, it is my belief that the overall plan for emotional health should incorporate supports that positively influence social and emotional development; this includes, the team and wrap-around concepts, and sustainable solutions. Today, I give back by encouraging others to overcome trauma and fulfill their purpose. To paraphrase, no one desires to be a caterpillar trapped within a cocoon. When a butterfly spreads its wings, only then will we see its true beauty and strength!