I cried three times today at work. A good cry, though. One of my sweet clients is turning 21 next week and aging out of foster care and I had to discharge him from our program today.
When I met this kid in January, he immediately touched my heart. I remember coming back to the agency and telling my supervisor, I love him so much.
and she was like, I’m glad lex, but you say that about everybody. And I know I do, but this kiddo is special. He’ll be 21 in a few days; I don’t know why I call him a kiddo.
but I’m so proud of him and don’t wanna let him go.D was an unaccompanied refugee minor from Honduras and suffered severe trauma in his home country, as well as on the journey over here.
He has not been treated kindly thus far, and I wanted to be different. The first time I met him, he was in his pajamas. He forgot I was coming over, but welcomed me in and offered me coffee.
He would not stop laughing as I apologized for my very bad Spanish. Thank you for being here today, he kept saying. I loved that.
I didn’t know what to do with his case when it first landed on my desk.
He has limited english, no high school education, has been unable to keep a job, and was going to be homeless in 3 months upon aging out of foster care.
I knew I only had a limited amount of time to work with him, but I was intent on making whatever changes I could for him before he was sent out into the world.
But also I felt completely unqualified and like I could never make a dent in the pile of bad things this kid had been given.
D is deeply invested in a church that he won’t tell many people about. He goes to services multiple times a week, volunteers his time, and donates money.
However, all his other workers call it a “cult” and believe he is being “brainwashed.” Any time they try to get D to apply himself or worry about his future he says,
Dios me cuidará– “God will take care of me,” and it angers his workers.
I got into a fight with them at a treatment planning meeting a few weeks ago because I stopped them and said, can we think about our word choice please?
and then proceeded to try to understand what the church provided for D. When I asked him, he said: un lugar para ir. Seguridad. A place to go. Safety. Security.
Really human needs that D was finding in the only way he knew how. They’ll probably keep calling it a cult, but I hope D felt that someone took the time to understand him for once.
He gave me the address of his church and apparently he’s never given that to anybody before. I felt honored.I’m so happy to say that yesterday, we nailed down a place for D to live.
After calling about 20 landlords and explaining the situation, a kind man agreed to rent D a room for only $50 a month as long as he kept it clean and didn’t bring in any drugs or alcohol.
It’s 10 minutes from his church and he is thrilled. D found a job. He is doing electrical work and landscaping. He passed his permit test and began driving lessons.
I connected him with an adult care management agency so he has a new worker to support him post-discharge. His is truly a success story and I never thought it would be.
Today while signing discharge paperwork he said to me, Thank you for believing in me. This made me cry. I didn’t know I could love a kid so deeply so quickly, but I do.
After he left, one of my co-workers gave me a hug. She said, You gave that man what he needed to move forward with his life. I hope you know how amazing you are. I cried again.
I’m seeing him Sunday morning at 8 am (he’s an early riser) to bring him a birthday card, help him pack up some things, and say goodbye.
I will miss him dearly, but I can sleep better at night knowing this kid is moving into a new place next weekend and will be able to sit in that place knowing that someone cared about him,
even if only for a short while. Today is a good day.