My name is Unique Robinson and I became an instant mother of an amazing 7 ½ year old named Eric on April 24th 2015. I received a letter on March 18th 2014 from the state of Washington informing me that I had a relative in foster care. My brother was in prison so I immediately reached out to my mother to inquire about the situation of my brothers’ son. Side note, my brother has multiple children by different women so I wasn’t in the know of anything surrounding his circumstances. My mother told me that Eric's mother gave guardianship to a non-relative when he was 3 ½ yrs. old and he was mentally and physically abused by that person for four years. The school noticed the bruising on his body and reported it to authorities and that’s how he was placed in foster care.
At that time the maternal grandmother who lived in Washington wanted him to be placed with her. The long short of the story: the system placed Eric in her care; in my opinion this quick decision was made to quickly resolve case. I tried to stay in contact with the maternal grandmother, but I encountered disconnected numbers and/or no returned phone calls.
In November of 2014 I was contacted by the Washington social services again because Eric had been removed out of the maternal grandmother's care in October. They couldn’t give me any information at the time other than he was in a temporary home. The social worker asked if I would consider being a placement home for Eric. I didn’t think twice, my answer was yes. The paperwork began and my journey to motherhood was taking form. I asked for phone privileges because I wanted Eric to know that he wasn’t alone and that his family loved him. The worker had to get the judge’s approval first. The Holidays were approaching fast and no word. I called multiple times a week and in the last week of December I finally received approval for phone privileges. The worker made arrangements with Eric's temporary home caretaker and I spoke to Eric for the first time in January 2015.
When I talked to Eric for the first time I asked if he knew who I was and he said no. Side note, I saw Eric for the first and final time in May 2012 when my brothers drove down to California with my nieces and nephews for our cousin wedding. I asked Eric if he remembered me and he said no. I didn’t expect him to because it was a very brief encounter. Eric went on to say that he didn’t know me, but he was happy that I called him because he thought everyone forgot about him and that no one loved him. I told him that he would never have to wonder if anyone loves or cares about him ever again. I made him a promise that I would call him every day and he would never be alone again. I kept my promise and we spoke every single day until the day he came to live with me.
Let’s fast forward a bit. Upon agreeing to accept permanent placement of Eric I was informed that relatives have three legal options: adoption, guardianship, and foster care. They gave me an overwhelming amount of information for the three options. Adoption and guardianship would give Eric the long-term support of stability, security, and confidence to feel he belonged to someone. Foster care would provide the ongoing support from social services. I made a conscious effort to proceed with adoption. I knew with adoption I would be losing many resources afforded to Eric and me by social services. However, when considering that Eric had been in eight foster care homes and given all he endured in his short life it was a no brainer for me. Eric deserved a restart button, a chance to have a home forever, not temporarily.
Two weeks ago I was given the adverse news from a nonprofit community program which stated that as result of my adopting Eric I no longer qualify for a childcare stipend they've been providing to me and Eric effective May 23rd. This news is devastating because I am not prepared to pay this expense so suddenly. Figuring out what to do the remaining two weeks of the school and summer is the burden causing me to lose sleep at night. I have no resolve for how to manage paying for his summer care. I’ve gone over my numbers, eliminated all variables to bare necessities like rent, car, gas, food, and utilities. I would need many months to prepare for that type of expense and time isn’t on my side.
Let me share one last story with you. When I went to pick Eric up from Washington for permanent placement I met with his second grade teacher who was an absolute angel by the way. She gave me the naked truth of his experience in her class, and it was a harsh reality for me. Eric was at the end of his second grade year and could not read nor write, and had limited math skills. Most efforts in the classroom were exhausted just to stabilize him mentally. He was constantly in tears, emotional outburst, in constant fear of where he would live, etc. After meeting with his teacher, and my prior research I made the decision to have Eric repeat second grade. There is no record of Eric attending preschool, kindergarten, and his first grade records yielded identical issues as his second grade. Eric is a resilient, determined, and intelligent boy. We’ve grown leaps and bounds since entering each others lives. Eric is now able to read and write.
However, he has so much lost time to makeup for. In the formative years when Eric should have been learning his phonics and basic math he was enduring circumstances that no child should ever experience. I’ve done my research and he is in need of more than tutoring. Eric doesn’t need help with homework; he needs help building his foundation of reading and math that due to unfortunate events he didn’t get a chance to formulate. These are competencies needed to thrive in true academic success. There is still time to repair Eric’s lost years. I found a program capable of meeting his needs.
I need my village. The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” This is a truth I’m witnessing in real life today. Anyone who knows me, I mean really knows me, knows I work hard and have pushed through some of the most challenging circumstances. This is bigger than me; this is for my son Eric. This sweet baby has changed my life and is deserving of all things good. I have laid down every ounce of pride; I willingly give it all away. His happiness is the very air I breathe. I stand here bare with my heart completely exposed. I cannot do this on my own. I need you. In many foreign cultures the village raises the child. Where is the community/village here in the states? It’s right here….YOU! If you’re reading this you’re the village I am calling.
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