Last night Josefina asked if I could adopt her. She was kidding, yes, but maybe only half way. Things with her mother have not much improved. Each day she looks a little more ground down, a little less like the Josefina I met in the spring. While I respect her decision not to pursue emancipation, I’m not sure it’s really the best choice for her.
I am glad to hear that the scared-the-crap-out-of-me pimping threat seems to have been phased out. Josefina says now that it was surely just a threat, that it would never have gone beyond the talk. I wish I felt so sure.
The real-or-“only”-threatened pimping has given way to a full court press on Josefina’s money. Last week Josefina discovered that her bank account had been emptied by her mother. Her mother insists that she has a right to any money Josefina earns, says that Josefina ‘owes’ her for all the money spent for her care and feeding from birth until now, Yes. Parental reparations.
I have no ready answers. No answers at all. I’d like to help her find a way to keep her Summer Youth money safe, and I’ll see what info I can find for her that might help her see her options more clearly. “Encourage, don’t push” is the plan. If it’s just about money, I think Josefina will take action.
She won’t, however, take any steps to free herself of her mother entirely. She doesn’t want Children’s Services or the police to get involved, but I can’t tell who she’s protecting. Once she found out that Children’s Services could (and most likely would) become involved in the emancipation process, she backed off the idea entirely. And now that she’s backed off, she has resigned herself to staying with her mother another year, until she’s 18. (Her birthday was at the end of last week, spent sleeping on a friend’s couch because her mother changed the lock on the apartment and wouldn’t let her in. [sigh])
Last night we talked about money. Tonight we reviewed her safety plan — were her two friends’ houses still viable options on the nights when she found herself locked out? And then we talked about how untenable her situation seems.
“Don’t worry, Miss Stacie,” she said. “There’s no physical abuse or anything like that. Everything she does, it’s only psychological.”
“It’s nothing I haven’t lived with for years already.”
Um, yeah. Could I ever have sounded so old at seventeen?
Encourage, don’t push. Encourage, don’t push. This will have to be my mantra. I’ll have to keep reminding myself. She’s taking it one day at a time, and I have to figure out how to do the same.