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Friday, March 4, 2016

"Throw Away Children"

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

This month the Genre-istas have the topic of "Real Life Heroes and Heroines". Although most of us write something on topic, a few of us don't and that's perfectly okay. We hope you check back often during the month to learn about real life heroes and heroines. Remember, Genre-istas come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States (actually from Alaska to the Carolinas in the U.S.).

Of course there are the women and men we read about every day in the newspapers and see on television, the ones whose lives are depicted in “based on true incidents/lives” movies.

Not taking anything away from any of those heroines and heroes, I’ve another point of view based on fifty years of working in education and social services.

Take the young man in high school who showed up every day to my class and even got permission to come to my class when he had other classes to attend. I met him about twenty years later. That’s when I learned about the alcohol abuse and domestic violence that was the norm in his family or origin. He’d found a different path for himself…not an easy path by any means. He had a good job, loving wife and children and great English Spaniel dogs (yes, I’m a dog lover). What he had to overcome in order to manifest that which he did not have as a child was enormous.

Another every day heroine is my neighbor who volunteers every Sunday at the state school for boys i.e. juvenile prison. She got involved when she retired and wanted something to do with her time. First she volunteered with Project Pooch and that’s how she got to know the incarcerated teenagers. She teaches them beading. The program is called “Beading The Odds”. My neighbor not only teaches them beading (and there is a wait list to get into her Sunday afternoon class), she writes grants for donations, sells their jewelry and other items at local craft fairs, etc.

I know from my years of working in child welfare that it makes a big difference to these young people to see people who are Not getting paid to help them show up. The fact that she does show up is, in itself, healing to them. Helps them see that adults can be trusted, can be caring and concerned.

When I was a case worker, I had a young girl who also overcame the odds and eventually found a loving husband, raised three great girls and made solid supportive friends.

 The fact that she keeps in touch with me at all means a great deal.

At this time of year, many politicians are eager to share their humble beginnings to show that they are just like everyone else. I’ve yet to hear one of them talk about being beaten, locked in closets, raped or starved much less abandoned to fend for themselves as a teen.

Gabriella (due to be released summer 2016) is about one of those ‘throw away’ children who lived on the streets because that was safer than being home with her mother. Not only does she have the basics of food, shelter, etc. to figure out but she also has to find her way past the shame of being one of the ‘throw away’ children, find the right to love and be loved in spite of (or perhaps because of) all that she endured and survived and overcame.

I encourage you to look around you and to see the ‘throw away’ children. Know that what makes a difference is for someone to see them and believe they can have and are worthy of a good life.

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.


Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook

© 2016 Judith Ashley

10 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

I am inspired by your examples!

Sarah Raplee said...

What an amazing post and what an amazing book! I can't wait to read it!

As a former Child Advocate for a Domestic Violence Shelter in Iowa, I can attest to the fact that overcoming child abuse or neglect is one of the most difficult tasks a person can face. Many kids don't even realize their violent, dysfunctional family is not the norm until they reach Middle School. Even then, they feel trapped and most of their energy goes into survival.

Imagine the strength of character it takes to reject the way you were raised and choose a different path. Sometimes it is the support of that one caring teacher, relative, neighbor or volunteer that gives them the belief that they can achieve a happy life and fulfill their dreams.

Thank you, Ms. Ashley, for writing this book!

Maggie Lynch said...

Judith, you are an inspiration to me. It takes a special person to work in social services, and it takes a special vision and belief to know that your work is making a difference even when you don't see the change yourself.

I've taken in three foster children (teenage girls) in the past. Each one was a throw away child for different reasons. Each one had managed to live in a horrible environment until something major happened as a teenager which had them removed from the home.

One was from an alcoholic and drug addicted mother who had 15 children, no two by the same man. Her mother started teaching her to drink when she was only 5 years old because she didn't want to drink alone. By the time she was 14 she'd been raped repeatedly by one of her mother's boyfriends.

Another young teen had grown up in a violent home. When she was 13 she watched her father throw her mother off a roof to kill her. A year later, her mother killed her father to stop the violence. She went to jail for manslaughter leaving her daughter to foster care.

The third young woman was raped by her father repeatedly from the time she was 10 years old. Her mother never believed her until her father raped a neighbor girl. By then the young woman was 15.

Each of these teens had a world of hurt to overcome and it is NOT easy, even when someone takes them in. It is difficult to trust. It is difficult to believe you are worth loving. It is difficult to forgive all those people in your life who didn't/couldn't help when you needed them most.

Thank you, Judith and Sarah for being an advocate for these children.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Important post, Judith. There are so many great young people in the world--it makes me optimistic for our future.

Madelle Morgan said...

Judith,

The people who help "throw away children" are those children's angels. It is difficult to imagine how the parents & those who are supposed to protect them can possibly do this damage to innocent children and teens. Teachers, social workers and others who do their best to help are true heros, because it is simply an enormous and likely overwhelming commitment.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Liz. Sometimes we can help with a simple smile or maybe a donation of a simple clothing item. A big deal is personal hygiene products - soap, deodorant, shampoo support a young person who wants off the streets but needs these basics.

Judith Ashley said...

Your observations are spot on, Sarah. The young man in my Junior English class (can you imagine wanting to sit in that class instead of another?). I was very young and very naive. It does take strength and resolve and determination along with the ability to recommit to the new direction you want your life to go in - that recommitment is often made several times a day!

Judith Ashley said...

I appreciate your sharing your experiences, Maggie. Those three scenarios are very typical of the backgrounds of many of the young people who are on the streets. It is sometimes hard to imagine that even a foster home doesn't feel safe - but if you've had your trust broken numerous times it is difficult to believe that this time you'll be safe and truly a welcomed member of the family.

Believing you are lovable and worthy/deserving of true happiness doesn't come easily to some of these survivors. But there are others who blossom in a foster home, who see it as a haven and who trust that the adults will protect them and keep them safe.

Thank you for providing a safe place for three young women. There is no doubt in my mind that you made a real difference in their lives.

Judith Ashley said...

Lynn, I totally agree that there are many great young people. And throw away children number among them.

Judith Ashley said...

Madelle, When I first started working in child protective services I was stunned at the way children were treated. But then as I became more acquainted with the backgrounds of the parents, mother's in particular, I realized that while they were abusive, neglectful, etc., they were doing a pretty good job in comparison to how they were raised. In many ways I'm grateful one of my first cases (Chapter 1 in "Lily") was so complex. When I got information on the mother's background, I learned she was locked in closets, chained up and prostituted out by her mother among other things. What she did to her own children was horrific but not to the extent of what was done to her. I had much more compassion for the parents after that - not excusing their behavior by any means but certainly doing my best to support their own healing.