Terrell's Story

Witnessing Mom’s Arrest

I was 10 years old when my mom was arrested. This was the first time that there were strangers in my home. All of sudden, a lot of people were in my house. I was taken because I was alone because my mom was arrested. The child welfare caseworker said my mom was “unfit.” I remember I was upset that these random strangers were talking about my mom. I felt like I was getting manipulated and felt like I was getting used in order to further their case.

Living with Dad

I was separated from siblings. I missed my little brother the most. I would cope by playing video games. I guess it was good that I was with my dad, but I wanted to be with my mom and siblings. My dad was cool. He played with me but was not the parent I needed at that age. I started to act out and had anger, and I was modeling anger from what I saw. At school, I started to see every female teacher trying to replace my mom, and that increased my temper. I didn’t think counseling was helpful because it didn’t go to my real issue of being separated from my mom and siblings. I didn’t know if my mom was safe and no one told me anything.

Lacking a Voice

I barely remember my attorney. Child welfare caseworkers asked me what I wanted, but I didn’t know if my requests were being heard in court. Nothing was explained to me. I felt that adults didn’t want to hear from me and I felt like I wasn’t important. No one listened to me.

Changing Placements

I was at my dad’s for a few years and then went to my aunt because of my anger and acting out. I was ok at my aunt’s for a year and then she said something about my mom and hurt my feelings. I was then sent to a program for older youth.

Reuniting with Mom

My mom then came and got me when I was 17 years old and we were reunited. My mom is like my best friend. My anger is a lot better because she gets me and hears me. My mom accepts me as who I am and not a damaged or angry kid that I was with my dad or aunt or in the system. Being taken from mom traumatized me, even though I was placed with kin, because I wanted to be with my mom.

Looking Ahead

I am working as a cashier now at the mall. I want to be an engineer and study in that field. I see my mom study as she becomes a nurse and that makes me think I can do the same. I want people to know that a mistake is not a life sentence and that my mom should never have been discounted. I am so lucky to be reunified with her.