Thursday, April 27, 2006

Family Ties

Hurt my foot yesterday....much pain....can't walk....must whine....must...have...pity.

And aside from that, somethin' pretty crazy has happened. No, Roxanne hasn't broken up with her girl/boyfriend, and my immidiate family hasn't gone nuts again. However...well, see, I have this younger sister; we'll call her Sarah. She's about 20 years my junior, and I never even knew she existed until my dad died several years ago. My older sister & I met her back then, when she was about 5. Her mom, my dad's last wife, was a drug-addict & all-around shady person, pretty much like my dad. So, after his funeral, we tried our best to become a part of our lil' sister's life; my older sis (let's call her Mandy) started keeping her on the weekends & letting her get to know my nephews & neices, and I took her out for ice cream & burgers and hung out as much as I could. Sarah was an amazing little kid, and she reminded me a lot of myself when I was that age. Also, she was the last living relative I had that shared my last name; all my brother's & sisters have their mom's last name....she & I were the last ones left.

But that didn't last long. As I said, her mother wasn't the most stable person in the world, and after about a year of us spending every other weekend together, she just...disappeared. Her mom's phone was cut off, her apartment was emptied....she was just gone. Her mom, let's call her Shelly, had no family left that we knew of, and we had no way to get in touch with them if she did. We figured we'd hear from her before too long & find out what happened, but a week turned into a month that turned into a year that turned into a decade. We didn't know what to do, so finally we just let it go and hoped that one day we'd learn what happened & see our little sister again. That was 13 years ago.

So, flash-forward to the present. My friend Alan, as you may know, is a lawyer now, and being a lawyer gives him access to all kinds of nifty government records & the like. So, as soon as he got his degree, and after I'd already had him look up all the ex-girlfriends, I gave him all the information we had on Sarah & her mom and waited to see what he dug up. It took a few months, but finally, he was able to procure an address for us. Her mom was apparently living under her maiden name in a town about 2 hours away...or so it looked. So, I gave my older sister Mandy the info and we both sat down to write them a letter, not knowing if they would respond, or if they were even still at that address. That was about 2 months ago.

And yesterday, we got a letter back in the mail. It was from Sarah.

She is 15 now, and about to turn 16 in July. She had been living with her mom at Shelly's boyfriend's house for the last few years, but he had recently died of cancer, and her mom was also diagnosed with it recently. Shelly, her mom, is dying, and may only have another year or so to live. Sarah said that she was in school, and making good grades, but that things had been really tough at home, and she knew that they were really struggling...at least as much as a 15-year-old can know. She left her phone number for us to call, and she sent us a picture of herself; she got all the looks in the family, apparently, because she's turned out just beautiful (and my older sister is no slouch, believe me). She sounded, against all odds, like a smart, normal kid. We were thrilled, of course, and called her immidiately.

We talked to her for hours, about everything that had happened in her life the past several years. She had a rough upbringing, like we all did, but she's smart as a whip, and she has a great head on her shoulders; she really has turned into as normal a kid as she could, given the circumstances, which were not optimal, to say the least. She loves to read, she loves movies, she liked old music, she wants to try writing someday...she's most definitely my sister. But, she's in a bad place...

Her mom is dying, and hasn't been working for months. And, during our conversation, Mandy & I couldn't help notice that she mentioned food over and over; she was hungry. She said that they had recently gone to request aid, but with all the recent action with Katrina, they weren't able to get much help. They have a few neighbors who have been helping them out from time to time, but the situation is not good. Shelly has a one sister left alive, apparently, but it sounds like she's pretty screwed up herself, and there's no way she could take care of Sarah if anything were to happen to her mother. And something is going to happen to her mother...sooner or later.

So, the question is, when that does happen, what do we do? My sister already has six kids of her own to raise under her own roof; four of hers, two of her husbands. There's no possible way she could just take on a 15-year-old on top of everything else. My older brother (did you even know I had an older brother?) is about as irresponsible as they come, and neither one of us have heard from him for almost a year now, which is par for the course where he is concerned; there's no way he's parenting material.

So, where does that leave us? With me.

I can't even begin to imagine trying to raise a teenage girl; hell, I'm still screwed up just from dating teenage girls years ago...you guys know that. I don't have the means, the income, the space, or the patience to even consider it...but this is my little sister; what can I do? I mean, nobody has seriously mentioned it yet, but Mandy & I talked about the situation, and, if it were to come down to that, we don't know what else to do. My poor momma can't take care of her, and I'm certainly not going to let my sister go live with some foster family or be placed somewhere. I love that little girl like crazy, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let anything else happen to her, so If it absolutely has to be done, then I will do it...but I have no idea how I'll do it.

Sure, she's almost 16, but when I was 16, I was nowhere near ready to go and face the outside world...and I don't know much about rearing teenagers, but I'm guessing that these next couple of years will be pretty damn important, and she's going to need somebody....

And I can't even really grasp the concept yet; it's hard enough to believe that we even found her after all these years, much less all this other stuff. I don't have any idea what will happen, but we're supposed to be going to see her this weekend, so maybe we'll get a better idea of the situation then. When it comes down to it, I'm just glad we found our little sister. I do wish I was rich, though...that'd make things easier.

I'll let you know what happens...back to the past later.

28 Comments:

Blogger Lanie Dinecola recalled...

Wow.... that's unbelievable.. what a twist. I hope things work out and I'm sure you are much more equipped to handle this than you think. Have women not taught you anything yet?! Besides the fact that we are fickle and unpredictable...

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger HotDudi recalled...

Wow! Talk about major news!! You don't do things by half do you!?!

I hope it all works out & you enjoy catching up with your baby sis this w/end.

You'll be able to work something out, that's what family's all about, & it sounds like you have a good relationship with your big sis...maybe you could have her stay with you and your big sis could help out a little financially until little sis is settled & ready to stand on her own 2 feet??

Keep us posted :-)

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger Karen recalled...

My dear ex, believe me, if it comes to you taking her, you'll do it and will find a way to make it work. Why do I know this? Because you love that little girl and you're a good human being. Plus, you'll have help from your sister and mom, and more than likely your network of friends.

Is this a daunting situation? Oh yeah, but the rewards you'll garner will be unmeasurable and unfathomable.

Hang in there, x, and don't stress over this just yet. Try to hold that stress off until after your visit this weekend. And make sure you hug that girl hard enough to let her know just how important she is to you.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:18:00 PM  
Blogger Karen recalled...

Oh! And I hope your foot feels better soon!

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger pookalu recalled...

i so have to email you a corollary story to this...but i hope things get resolved...remind me to tell you the story...

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jamy recalled...

Wow, what a story! It's so great that you found your sister.

And if it comes down to it, you will make it work. You would be the best thing that ever happened to that kid. Really.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:44:00 PM  
Blogger Trix recalled...

No one, no matter what age they are, is ever TRULY ready to raise a child. There will be tough times, sure, but you'll make it work. Why? Because you don't have any other choice. You love her, and it's the right thing to do.

Good for you. It just goes to prove what I've suspected to be true all along...you're a good man, Charlie Brown.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 5:12:00 PM  
Blogger NewToSeattle recalled...

Sound's like a sitcom waititng to happen:)

Thursday, April 27, 2006 6:44:00 PM  
Blogger Shawna recalled...

Hate to tell ya, but most (I said "most", not all) girls are a lot more emotionally adult at 16 then boys.

If she's as with it as you describe, fairly responsible, etc... it might just work. She might just need some family and courage to get through it.

I have a current coworker and a couple of previous coworkers that were emancipated at 16 and 17... so they were going to school, working, and paying rent on their own. One had a child of their own, too.

It can be done. Sounds like she's already been raising herself... a bit of a helping hand for a year or two from you guys might just get her through...

Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:36:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa recalled...

First of all, I love the title of your blog.

Secondly, I'm a former foster child and current child advocate.

After my mom's death & father's remarriage, his new wife said, "It's Lisa or me."

Well, he picked her, and I grew up in foster group homes between the ages of 12-16.

When I was 16 years old, I started college. (Smart, but no common sense -- that was me!)

All's well now. I have the college & graduate level degrees, the husband, the house and two stepkids of my own (whom I love to pieces!).

So... coming from that standpoint:

Sixteen years old is a very impressionable age. You have the opportunity to help her get off to a great start on life.

Just keep her safe, okay? One really weird thing that happened to me when I was 17 was that my uncle made a pass at me.

When girls are in their teens, guys get frisky. Particularly older guys. It's really weird. Keep her safe if you can.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:57:00 PM  
Blogger Coach Jay recalled...

X:

I know that your family has put the "fun" in dysfunctional, but you've got to pick this girl up. Not only because she is your sister, but because I believe her influence on your life and outlook will be a great positive.

Yes, you've been living alone for awhile, but whatever kind of home you can offer her will be better than any other alternative, and a "safe" feminine presence in your life might be a kick-start you could use.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Caro recalled...

i'm sure she's thrilled to have you guys in her life again, too. good luck, ex.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Chris DeLorenzo recalled...

How amazing!!!! An opportunity to make a HUGE difference in someone's life placed right on your doorstep. I'm excited for you and for her. What a great time in your life this could be.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger chicaleecious recalled...

I found my long lost li'l brother's family too in the last year after looking for him for years, but he hasn't been ready to talk yet(Seinfeld mirror, remember?). Actually, he found me first when he was 17 and wrote me (*a very impressionable age indeed), we lost touch again and now he's 21.. again, story for another time, since that's hardly the point. I'll get into it at a later time...

The point is, you have a good heart, and the answers will come. I do hope you all find your way. I know you want to do the right thing, but the situation seems a bit intimidating. If it boils down to you taking care of her, I think you'll eventually figure it out -- and it seems like all she needs are a couple more years of guidance anyway (*especially if she's doing well in school). Perhaps you can help her out with shelter and food while you can save her from going to a foster home by being her official guardian. Then, she can continue on going to school(*i.e. via school loans, working student - etc.)until she can be independent.

If she's lived a hard life, sounds like she'll be able to live independently and do well with it anyway, but your guidance (and your sister's, even though she might be unable to help on physical needs) can go a LONG way.

Best of luck!

Thursday, April 27, 2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Charlotte recalled...

reading through this post a lightbulb went on in my brain. maybe this is it, maybe this is why. maybe this is what you are supposed to do. and yet ... it seems so disney at the outset, so "a sitcome waiting to happen"

ex, i think that this would be so great for you. you want to understand girls? live with a teenager - it could be the best thing that has ever happend to you. and most certainly the best thing that has ever happened to her. i just feel so good about this, and i feel dumb saying that because besides this blog i hardly know you.

but from what i do know you are an incredible guy. she would be lucky to be given a second chance and get to grow up with her older brother.

Friday, April 28, 2006 1:28:00 AM  
Blogger Maria h√łnen recalled...

I hate to be the devils advocat - but would living with you be the best thing for her? I am sure it would work out but at what cost for her? It sounds like she needs something stable and she will need a lot of comforting when her mother dies. Are you ready for that kind of responsability? I dont doubt you can - and you are family. But in the perfect world just maybe a foster couple would be the best for her. Dont hate me for saying this, but you might do her a big favour by NOT taking her in.

Friday, April 28, 2006 5:13:00 AM  
Blogger BiblioTECHa recalled...

X,

I can only imagine the emotions you must be having right now. The relief and joy of finding your sister on top of concern about her welfare and your role in that welfare.

I hate these character-building experiences.

I don't think there is an easy answer to this. I doubt that you will get a blinding flash of purpose to help you decide what is the right thing to do. Vixen is right that you are goodhearted person and you love this girl, which makes you highly motivated to help this girl out. And she doesn't really need a lot of dough to be in a stable home. But she does need someone she can count on to look out for her best interests.

I have to agree with maria honen that it is at least considering the tremendous sacrifices you'd have to make (willingly and without resentment) to be that person. It will be a big morph from the long-lost-siblings relationship you have now into a parent-child relationship.

And you WILL be, for lack of a better term, the father to this girl as she goes through [another] really tough stage. That will be no cake walk. Plus, given what you've said about your dad, you will be learning that role through OJT.

The plus side to all this learning new tricks/giving up your swingin' bachelor lifestyle, you might get a really rich, rewarding relationship out of it. You'll have a chance to share something with someone that neither of you has really had before.

S-

Friday, April 28, 2006 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger The Eternal Freshman recalled...

I'm with Charlotte. There's a reason you kept trying to find her. Maybe this is what's 'supposed' to happen. Sometimes things like this happen in life and they make us the person we want to be.

Saturday, April 29, 2006 4:02:00 PM  
Blogger Grant recalled...

Good luck with that. If nothing else, having your sister move in will teach yourself alot about you when you finally have some of your own.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 9:16:00 PM  
Blogger Mazer Rackam recalled...

X,
Trix and Coach J said it best. I don't think you have a choice but to take her in. As Trix said, no one is ever truly ready to raise a child. I am 27 and my wife and I live in a small apartment outside DC and are happy as things are. However, I have lots of screwed up in-laws teetering on the edge of just making it by. If one of them (and their kids--they all have kids) needed to get away and find aplace to stay, my wife and I are ready to open our doors to them. No questions asked.

Good luck and let us know the outcome.

Monday, May 01, 2006 9:11:00 AM  
Blogger PAINKEY recalled...

I wish you and your family the best of luck, I hope thing work out for the best...very sweet that you would consider taking her in...that says a lot about u x

Monday, May 01, 2006 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger Evel recalled...

You would be suprised what you can do. The money will work itself out. She is lucky to have you.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006 5:54:00 AM  
Blogger Jhena recalled...

maybe Sarah's meant to enlighten your world. I'm sure she can teach you a lot of lessons about girls and our ever changing minds.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 3:36:00 PM  
Blogger t-lexy recalled...

Your little sister sounds amazing.

I believe that if it comes down to it, she'll almost take care of herself. If she's lived with a drug addict for this long, she's probably more mature than you or I.

My upbringing wasn't as bad, but I started working at 14. In addition, if she's about to lose her mom, she's going to need you. Even though her mom has probably been the child in that relationship.

It'll only be two years til she's 18...

Go with your heart and everything else will work out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 7:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dorothy recalled...

Oh goodness, I've got tears in my eyes after reading this. This little girl, now 16, reminds me so much of the life I used to have. Struggling. Eating lettuce sandwiches with no bread (don't ask), stealing cookies out of my aunt's house when she wasn't home because we were starving. Man. She will surive, just like I did, and in fact, it will make her an even stronger person because of it, but meanwhile, what to do. What a situation. I finally met some of my family a few months ago--family I'd never seen that was on my father's side of the family. Heck, I've never even seen my father, but he knows I exist. I did have a grandmother who raised me when my mother couldn't, so that helped. Remember one thing, no matter what, blood is blood. Please give this girl a chance.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger sugarpunk recalled...

ok this is in regards to your post about finding the teen sister...
(in case you recieve email notifications)

YOU can take her in.. and maybe it isnt the best of circumstances ...BUT its the best of her circumstances..

let me tell you something.. if you take that lil girl in the govt will give you a certain amount of money.. underage kids still in school.. she would be able to continue an education as well.. (social security checks) and dont forget govt aid to help house and feed her)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006 8:09:00 PM  
Blogger averagedrinker recalled...

let's just say that not all stories have a healthy end. life is so unfair but the girl's atough teenager.i can relate with her status although not much. it was during the time that i almost got kicked off the house because of my mom's other half. she believed him more than she believed me. i almost lost my consciousness and was suicidal.my bestfriend denice told me she supports me all the way and if ever anything happens, i've got her. i saw her one night chatting in webdatedotcom and she introduced me to the site. there i met my husband now of 2 years, matt. he gave the reason to live again. after a year, i went home to my mom. he broke up with his boyfriend and promised me to never enter in a relationship ever again. i gues my savior was matt. he's my angel.

Sunday, June 18, 2006 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger Andi (not X's HS sweetheart...I don't think) recalled...

Good for you and your sister for setting up a plan to take in your little sister. I was place in a similar situation with my half bro and sis who are 10 year+ my junior. I was a newlywed and we decided we would take them if their mother was incarcarated. Family is famile... Kudos to you!

Thursday, May 15, 2008 10:16:00 AM  

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