If You Don’t Climb the Mountain, You Can’t See the View
July 15, 2023
I love the mountains! Because of this known love, a dear friend gave me a piece of wall art that says: “If you don’t climb the mountains, you can’t see the view”. How simple, and true. But so many of our children in our foster care system in South Carolina and around the nation have a “Mountain” of circumstances they never asked for and do not deserve. I would like to introduce you to one such young lady, who is talented beyond what should be allowed on planet Earth. Her name is Julia and she will be 15 years old in July.Julia began climbing her mountain….. you know… the one created for her by the adults in her life when she entered the foster care system for the first time when she was 4-years old…..for the second time when she was 9-years old…..and for the third and final time in March, 2015 when she was 11 years old.Anyone who has ever hiked in the mountains, know the trails are often steep, narrow, and riddled with roots, stones, creek beds and icky snakes. They can also be marked with beauty and peace, a least for a short time. Julia’s climb to the top of her mountain has not been easy. Julia’s poem, that you will read below, highlights the challenges and obstacles she has faced along her journey, that for many, would cause them to behave as a donkey will at times behave on a trail…..sit down and refuse to move. Let me tell you, Julia is no donkey!
Today, Julia reached the pinnacle of her mountain climb. After 1,182 days on the foster care mountain trail (or three years, two months, and 26 days) Julia was adopted. Her definition of “Home” has changed as you will see in her poignant poem. I urge you to read her poem completely. In the judge’s words, “poems touch the heart and this one touch mine in such a way that I could almost, not conduct this hearing”.
Julia is not an immigrant child being detained on the border. There is no political and/or public outcry on her behalf or the over 400,000 children like her still languishing in our foster care system. But….these children who have been “detained” by our welfare system DESERVE our attention, our help, safety, a “Home”, a stable family, and they deserve this swiftly….three years….an eternity to a child.
Isn’t that the word that everyone knows?
They know it means comfort and love
But the only word that I knew
And how to end your life,
My mother tried right in front of me.
She threw the cord right over the bar on the swing
And made us watch as she stuck her head through
The noose and hung there.
I was five, I cried, I didn’t know what to do,
I begged her to get down, but she wouldn’t move.
My sister ran to get the landlord and
He came over and cut her down with what looked like a sword,
But it wasn’t,
My mind was corrupted, right at that moment,
I thought to myself,
“It’s all my fault”.
The depression, it sunk in, along with the scars
And the sunken in eyes from the loss of the sleep,
From the endless nights worrying about
If I would ever be safe.
From the abuse.
From the alcoholic mother who
Who didn’t accept her condition,
From the father who died when I was
One and a half.
From the men who spent the night with my mother
And came into my room at night,
And touched me under the covers.
But my mother was too drunk to know,
Too drunk to show that she cared.
Sisters are supposed to stick together,
But I pushed mine away,
Because I didn’t want to be saved,
I didn’t want her help,
I wanted to save myself.
From my demons, from the only thing eating me
From the inside.
From the thoughts in my mind.
So I put them into drawings,
And poems about my life,
And the sores on my legs and my arms tell it all,
Especially after my mother had died,
All I found myself doing was crying in my room,
Even though I knew, through all of the years of abuse,
She loved me. Even if it was a tiny bit,
That couldn’t even be seen through a microscope
That was set on it’s highest level.
But I’ve found a new family,
The word that everyone knows,
The word that means comfort and love,
That makes me feel whole again,
I have friends that love me for me and admittedly,
I love them as well.
There is no point in hiding what I’m not good at hiding,
They see through it,
Through the lies and the pointless deception.
The one that I think is the question,
That everyone asks;
But now, I can safely say,
That I am okay.
That I am happy with the life I have,
No more running from the
Fear that was once haunting me.
I am better,
I am home.
I thank the foster parents for their commitment to Julia, the three other children they have adopted, and the more than 40 foster children they have served as they have climbed their own personal mountains.
*Side note: Julia is a talented musician and artist. While awaiting to meet with me, she occupied herself by drawing on a napkin. This is her drawing.