Written by Kristy Graves, a member of the Foundation’s Young Person’s Advisory Council and former young person in care
I close my eyes and I can remember it clear as day: the smell of the old musty chair I hid behind in my grandparents’ basement. My hands are shaking as I rock my infant brother back and forth to keep him quiet. There are bad terrible people upstairs. They’re from a scary organization called the ‘Children’s Aid Society’ and they are here to take us away from my mom, to send us to live with strangers. Aren’t I not supposed to talk to strangers? How can I live with them? The name has been passed around my house for the past couple of months like a ghost story. I know these monsters, they rip families apart and ruin lives. We hear the voices leave and I try to sneak-out the back door with my brother. They’re too smart though. They know we are here and come out to get me. I’m screaming and struggling. I don’t want to be taken from my mom. My brother starts to scream but he is too young to really know what’s going on. My grandpa calms me down and tells me to go with them, that it will all be O.K. We grab a few things in a bag and get into the car with the monster. She is full of nice words and soft smiles, but I can sense her blackened heart. I feel my heart shatter as we pull away from my mom and her handprint begins to fade from the window where she pressed it so desperately. I stare at the back of the monster’s head as she drives, my heart filled with hatred.
Some people are scared of Dracula or the boogie man. But the woman in the front seat is the worst sort of monster I’ve ever met.
I can close my eyes and conjure-up the memory, the fear. I can recall the smells and the sounds of that day, but I can’t identify with the hatred or with my view of woman who drove me away that night. Some of my facts were correct; she was a social worker and she was there to take me away from my mom and my family. The rest of me was terribly wrong though. My life wasn’t one fit for a child. My parents weren’t fit to care for my brother or I.
Had I stayed in that life I would have most likely headed down a path of destruction, stuck in the cycle of abuse, poverty, and drugs I had been born into. I would have been just another lost soul to fall through the cracks.
It took me a long time to realize that without the CAS and the help from the Children’s Aid Foundation that began when I was 11, I would not be who I am today. Today I am a 23-year-old university graduate. I have lived on my own for 5 years now and am completely self-sufficient. I am in a healthy, stable, loving relationship with a wonderful man. I am an upstanding individual in my church community and am currently getting ready to enter into my career. So now when I look back from the vantage point of the life I’m now living, I can see that night for what it really was: a rescue mission. And when I recall the memory of the individual sitting in the front seat, I see an angel.