Jul 27, 2022
6 mins read
Just a quick re-introduction for our cast of characters for anyone reading this blog for the first time
Grendel- that’s me, not my real name, but my moderately creative alter ego and gamertag.
Mommah- that’s my wife of 18 years.
Octo- he is our oldest, 8 years old now. We first had him placed with us when he was a year-and-a-half
Naven- he is our youngest at 7 yrs old. He is Octo’s biological half-brother, same birth mom, placed with us at 5 days old.
Oliver Barkbottom the First- he is our Jack Russell Terrier and our family dog, 10 yrs old
Here is where introductions get tricky.
The Mom. The mom is the birth mother of two girls that we fostered before we met the boys. We fostered the girls for just shy of one year before they reunified with their mother.
Her oldest daughter, The Big one is now 11 years old and was 2-2 1/2 when we fostered her.
The Small one is now 8, only 2 weeks younger than Octo. We call them the twins. She was 5 days old when we picked her up with her sister, the Big one.
We love these little girls and hoped we could keep in touch after reunification. We felt the best way to do that was to build a trusting and honest relationship with The Mom. It has worked out well for the most part. There are challenges of course but we talk to them regularly and they come to our place and spend the night every few months or so. COVID messed it all up of course, but we kept in touch.
Last Spring, the house they were living was sold and they had to move out. They spent a month or so in one of her cousin’s apartments. But unfortunately that ended poorly. Worst of all, she lost her job because of the relocation. They were able to find a program through LA County that offered hotel vouchers as long as she looked for jobs and attended job fairs and classes. That was the easy part. But as you could imagine, the vouchers didn’t keep them in the best of neighborhoods.
Now, while I am sure this program is super beneficial for some people, it is kind of useless. Here is a mom with two girls, looking for a job and a place to stay and the program only lasts for 2 weeks. So best case scenario, she gets a job on the first day, but will not have enough for a down payment much less first months rent. Not sure how the County believes this is reasonable. Seeing the state of homelessness in California, nobody seems to care.
So after the two weeks ran out, we had them move in with us. We live in a 2 bed, 2 bath condo. The living room is currently a bedroom at night. It’s crowded, it’s very busy at times, but it is better than them being on the streets.
Our program was not much different than the County program. 6 hours a day was dedicated to getting a job and signing up for housing assistance. We got her to and from interviews and within a couple of weeks, she was in backgrounds. She is working now and she is picking up extra hours where ever she can. The Mom has herself on an uncomfortably tight budget, but handling necessities. It has been interesting to watch her go from unemployed and down and likely depressed to motivated and proud of what she has accomplished. Good training for when Octo and Naven get older I guess.
Still, we wait for a place for them to open up. We found a couple that were on apartment finding sites, but honestly, moving in now might be setting her up for failure. While she already saved enough to get in, she would have zero in the reserves. Our fear is that she has hours cut or laid off then back to ground zero. We can financially have a few roommates but could not afford a second apartment.
In a little over a week she can sign the girls up for school. Both of their schools are super close to us and we can use our residence to get them in, as long as they live close we can find a way to make it work. We are already planning on getting them enrolled in after school care and extracurricular activities. Things they didn’t do before. They are both very behind in many areas.
Now to vent a little. We are stressed out about all of this. I am for sure your typical dude that thinks I can fix it all problems and we can outwork the problem. Well, that line of thinking of course can cause problems. We are stressed because our oldest feels like his summer is lost because he has house guests the entire summer. I’m stressed because my youngest now lives with an 8 year old that still grabs from other people and throws tantrums like a 4 year old. I’m stressed because any alone time my wife and I had is now consumed with supervising a nearly 30 year old and her kids while she gets on the right track. That’s the easy part, we are worried that long term the job or their next apartment presents a challenge she isn’t ready for and it puts them back with us. This cannot happen again. After adopting our second child we knew that our output was best dedicated to two kids. We are sitting at 5 now and that stresses us out because 1. This situation is on her and 2. Selfishly, this is slowing our plans.
Feels a little like I’m ranting on Reddit in the Am I the A Hole section, but I need to get this out. The financial burden this has created alone has altered many of our summer plans. The extra time that could have been spent further developing our two boys in whatever field is now divided exponentially.
This experience has given me a slightly different perspective on homelessness. Look after your people, you might not come out ahead financially and you might fall behind a little yourself. But for those who truly need and want the help, help them. A little, a lot, whatever it takes to prevent a kid from being on the street. Whatever it takes to keep a family under a roof. You never know when it could be you or someone you love.
What do you think, am I off on my perspective ?
Bye for now