Jane (I can’t use her real name) is a 15 year old with long hair, usually dyed orange or, sometimes, purple. She is a child participating in a child protection case against her parents. Jane, unfortunately, has suffered the following things in her short life:
—repeated physical abuse from her grandma
—verbal abuse from her family like, “you’re horrible and deserve to go to a orphanage”
—Jane suffers from several mental health issues including; anxiety, reactive attachment disorder, and mood disorder. She takes meds for some of these diagnoses
—Jane has attempted suicide
—she’s been through a series of group homes
—she’s been locked in her bedroom for days and had to knock to get permission from her family to come out
—Jane has moved through many foster homes, some not very pleasant.
She has been removed from her family in a child protection case. While the case progresses through the courts, Jane often comes to the hearings. In spite of her horrendous life she smiles and is upbeat in court.
When the judge learned that Jane wanted to be a writer, the judge told her to talk to me. After court was over, I spent some time talking with Jane in the hallway encouraging her to pursue her writing. At the same time, I didn’t tell her that the chances for a teenage writer to get poetry published was about as likely as Donald Trump keeping his mouth shut.
We exchanged emails where I suggested possible publication opportunities that she could try. I also thought she could begin by blogging to at least get something “out there.” So, I was surprised and happy when I found out that Jane had submitted her poetry to a state-wide contest sponsored by the government for young writers.
Jane won a spot in the final anthology!! It was printed in a nard-bound book along with other stories by teenage writers across the state. I saw a photo of Jane holding the book up in front of her. Her smile was as wide as the book! She had even changed her hair color to blue. She is still going through difficult problems in her life and living situation, but what a precious victory for this young girl!