The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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No Replacement for My Real Mom
Trey C.

We enter Brooklyn across the Williamsburg Bridge. I wonder where they’re taking us. My mother said we were going to a better life, but there is no better life without her. Tears pour down my face. What will I do now? Who will I talk to when I’m sad?

The car finally comes to a halt in front of a brownstone in Brooklyn. As we exit the car, I wipe the tears off my face while still sobbing. My sisters are almost finished crying. We enter the brownstone and walk up to the third floor. There are balloons everywhere that say “Happy Birthday.”

It’s a girl’s birthday. She is pretty, with tan skin, light brown eyes, and beautiful dark brown hair. It’s her 14th birthday, which means she’s too old for me. Damn! As we walk in closer I hear the two guys tell a woman, “Here are your new foster children.”

The woman introduces me to the pretty girl: “Francesca, this is your new foster brother, Trey. Say hi.” The girl smiles at me. I see her braces shining silver and big, but it doesn’t change her beauty.

The woman, my foster mother, brings me to my room. The room is small with a bunk bed. Why a bunk bed if it’s only me? A boy walks into the room. He’s tan as well with a strong jaw and dark brown eyes that look evil. My foster mother says, “This is your new foster brother, Carlos. Say hi. His name is Trey. Show him around.”

There isn’t much to show—the wooden bunk bed, a slim dresser with a small TV on top of it. There’s a Nintendo 64 with one controller. There’s also one window in case I want to escape.

Making Me a Liar

At midnight, I realize I can’t sleep without my mother giving me a kiss. My foster brother Carlos is exhausted from the day of partying with his family. I hear whimpering in the next room, and I follow the sound. I see my sisters on the queen-sized bed they share, holding each other as they cry. I ask them what’s wrong, and my older sister replies, “We miss Mommy.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll see her tomorrow,” I lie.

“You promise, Trey?”

“I promise,” I lie again. “Now come on, let’s go to sleep”

I tuck them in the bed. They fall asleep instantly; they must be tired from all the crying. I start to walk back to my room, but I don’t want to leave them so I walk back and lie down with them. No wonder they fell asleep so fast: Their bed feels like a cloud. I drift into a dream, but it’s not a good one.

Every night for two weeks, I have the same nightmare about lying to my sisters and them getting mad about it and running from me. I chase them, but they always get farther and farther from me.

‘We’re Going Home’

It’s 8:20; that means I’m late for school. My foster mother finally enrolled me in school yesterday. I barely wash my face and brush my teeth and then run to school. The day goes by quickly. Afterwards I pick up my little sister at her school and walk to the house. On our way, she starts to cry.

“I miss Mommy so much, Trey.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll see her soon.”

“You said that last time, and we still haven’t seen her,” she says, wiping tears off her face.

Damn, she caught me. What should I do? I make a decision. We walk right by the foster home as if it doesn’t exist.

“Where are we going?” my sister asks.

“We’re going home,” I reply. “We’re going home.” And I take my sister to my mother’s on the subway. We stay there for an hour before the agency comes to pick us up.

I Have a Mother

For years after that, I keep running away, from every foster home and then every group home, to go see my mom. I don’t even know why I’m in care.

When I’m 11, I’m moved to another foster home with my sisters and, now, my brother too. My brother tells me the reason he’s in foster care is for “medical neglect.” It’s because of his diabetes, because he kept going to the hospital for his blood sugar. The agency must have thought it was my mom’s fault, but I knew my brother always ate a lot of candy during school.

Our new foster mother is tall with tan skin and short dark hair. She is nice and respectful and I don’t mind living with her—for a while. One day, when we’ve been living with her for around a year, she calls the four of us over. “How would you guys feel about being adopted?” she asks us abruptly, without even working her way up to the question.

I can’t even imagine her being my mom. I love my mom, and I would never want to leave her. If I leave her now I may never be able to see her again. She’s not perfect, but I love her with all my heart. The question makes me aggravated.

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“I’m fine with it,” my brother says.

“What?” I think. “Why is he saying that? I thought he loved Mommy.”

“I don’t know about you, bro, but I’m never leaving Mommy,” I say proudly.

“Well then you’ll have to wait until you’re 18. Then you can sign yourself out of care,” my foster mom says.

“I can?” I ask.

“Yeah, but that’s a long time from now,” she says.

“I have nothing but time,” I say sarcastically, even though 18 is still six years away. That’s a long time, but I can wait because I love my mom.

AWOLs and Visits

My mom and I get through the six years seeing each other at least every two weeks. I AWOL to her house and she visits me in the group homes where I live. I realize I like the foster homes more than the group homes because they’re more like being with my family. I love that feeling. Some foster kids make do because it is easy to pretend that you are actually home.

But even though it reminds me of that feeling, it still isn’t the real thing, so I keep running back to my real mother. When I’m 13, I get sent to a new, stricter group home because I ran away so much.

This one is different, more secure. I’ve been here for two weeks, and it feels like boot camp. We line up for every meal and have assigned seats in the dining room. I’ve never been to a place like this. It’s Sunday and my mom is supposed to be coming to visit me. I can’t wait. I haven’t seen her since they put me in this place.

Ding dong! The doorbell rings as I sit there waiting with my leg shaking and fingers twitching. The front door opens and a familiar face appears. My heart grows full with emotion. My mom’s face brightens and her smile widens when she sees me. She drops the Adidas bag she’s filled with clothes for me and opens her arms. I walk inside her arms to give her a hug tighter than a python’s grip.

Every second without my mom feels like torture so I will make this moment last. The staff brings us into the big visiting room. The walls are painted white with two small windows. There are three tables in a row and we choose the middle one. We sit across from each other.

“Mommy, I missed you!” I exclaim.

“I missed you too, baby,” my mom says calmly, as if she never spent a day without me. “I brought you your favorite, lasagna,” she says while pulling out a black plastic bag.

“Yes!” I say, thrusting out my arm, anxious to inhale all my food.

“Relax, you still need a fork,” she says, looking at me with a grin.

“Oh,” I reply with food in my mouth and on my hand.

“How’s everybody at home, Mommy?” I ask. My sisters are with their grandmother in the Bronx, but my uncles live with my mom.

“Everybody’s good, we’re just waiting for you,” she says with her head down as if she dropped something.

“Mommy, I can’t wait to come home,” I almost shout in excitement.

“Don’t worry, you will be home sooner than you think,” my mom replies.

Four Hours on Holidays

Each visit is two hours, four hours on holidays. Each visit, all we talk about is me coming home and how the family is, including my dogs. Every time she leaves the group home, I feel sad. I hate to watch her leave. All I think about is running to her and leaving with her by my side. Whenever I AWOL to see her I never want to go back to the group home. I just want to stay home with my family doing anything. It doesn’t matter what we do just as long as we do it together.

It’s been six years since a woman who was nice but not my mother offered to adopt me. I am going to sign myself out in a few days, on my 18th birthday. I’ve been to numerous foster homes and group homes and my mom comes to visit often. Or, if not, I get home passes to go see her. During these years I’ve tried my hardest to wait till this day because I wanted to move back with my mom so bad.

I know she’s not perfect. Probably part of the reason I love her so much is because I’ve been gone for so long. Other teens who get to live with their parents find them annoying. I know there will be some difficulties, like arguments about chores, but I’m prepared for that.

I feel like living with my mom will help me meet my goals, because I will feel more love and more self-respect. I want to go to college, major in theatre, and become an actor. My mom is proud of my grades and she knows that I’m smart. When I told her I wanted to be an actor, she didn’t hesitate to back me up. She pushes me to go for what I love because, she says, “You don’t want to do something you don’t like for the rest of your life.” Although some people do well in care, I do well with my mom, and I don’t want to change that.

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