Trash Bags

The turnover in foster homes is consistent. I would wake up to familiar faces and go to bed with new ones. Night time were the worst with new kids. Either they were going to be criers or they were veterans and wanted to fight. Literally no in between. Crying or fighting. The criers were the worst, because no matter how long you’ve been in the system, we never forget that first night or the want to be back with your mother or grandmother.

One night before bed, Ms. Brown came into the girls room with a large black trash bag. We looked around to see who was leaving. You have to understand, being a foster kid at Ms. Brown’s isn’t perfect, but it’s almost as close you can find in Chicago. The hope is to stay here until it’s time to go home. The kid who is going home, has been to court, started visits with their family, and none of us that night were on that path. I was approaching a year in the foster care system. I hadn’t seen my mother since we were separated at the police station and my siblings since they were dropped off. So seeing Ms. Brown with the trash bag, my heart dropped.

She walked over to my lower bunk and handed me the trash bag. The other girls quietly left the room.

“CeeCee” (I’m not sure when I picked up my new nickname. One day I’ll explain my love hate relationship with nicknames.

“CeeCee, I just got off the phone with your social worker, she is picking you up tomorrow, they found a home that you can live with your brother and sister”

Ms. Brown gave me one of her warm hugs. She had been trying to get my brother and sister, but she never had the slots available for a boy and girl. I was happy and worried at the same time. A new home creates too many unknown factors for a girl my age, but I will be with my sister and brother.

I took the trash bag and realized it wasn’t empty. Inside was a pink and purple bag with a matching book bag! I started crying. Ms. Brown had been so good to me and I knew our connection was special.

Years later, comedian Tiffany Haddish would talk about her time in foster care and putting her clothes in trash bags. Last year so donated hundreds of suitcases to foundations for children in the foster care system.

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