It’s funny, in most cases, that some people don’t realize that my parents are white. Yes..I said it, white. It all started in Camden, New Jersey, with my birth sister Takiesha, and my birth brother Dawonye. My mother at the time had Takiesha at around 14 years old, and had my brother at around 15 years old, then finally me at 16 years old. My parents were young, naïve, and in my personal opinion, assumably weren’t ready to have children. Difice came into our lives, shortly after my birth sister mysteriously had broken her arm. In actuality, my father had done it, as he pulled her from the crib aggressively by the arm. Our social worker was named Donna, and from that point on the journey to becoming adopted soon began. Right now you’re probably thinking it was great, there was happiness, and there was beauty. It’s actually the complete opposite of that. It was horrible, terrible, scary, and absolutely inhumane. Physical, mental, and emotional abuse took place for 6 years. Yes…6 whole years. It was quite terrifying and scary, because at one point I didn’t think I was going to make it through these different foster homes alive. Lucky enough, I had gone through everything with my brother, which is quite rare I shall add. As I get deeper into this journey I ask my readers of three things. One, to keep an open mind, two, to not feel sorry or to feel bad, and three, respect it. Respect the fact that I am still here stronger than ever and actually telling my story, as for some they can’t sit here today and tell their own story. Continuing on, I remember everything that has happened, its like a movie that replays in my head constantly. I can’t escape it, so I embrace it, and relive it when it comes back through my nightly dreams. One foster home, The McDaniels, was quite interesting. That was the only house I liked because they actually fed us and somewhat treated us like human beings. Except for the fact that the kids that were there would bully us, and physically abuse us. A few punches to the abdomen, and face, but we took it like champs. The next house, I thought things would get better, but they kept getting worse. I remember being greeted by a “nice”, African American “family”, so I thought. After our social worker left, things took a turn for the worst. I remember two of the boys ganging up on my brother and pushing him around and verbally abusing him. The girls slapped me across the face, and spit on me. The adults did absolutely nothing except stand there and condone it. I can remember at dinner time when we went to get food, I put my plate out, and the Foster dad, took it and pushed me to the ground and laughed as the rest of the “family” laughed. I can remember staying in the room with my brother and not leaving because we didn’t know when the next time we were going to be physically abused. When our social worker came to pick us up, I can remember her asking us how it went, and us crying and not saying a single word because we were that petrified. The next house we went to, you could tell we were in the hood and city streets of Camden. It was interesting because I remember staying in this apartment that was old, dirty, and had a few rodents that built homes underneath some areas of the floors. One point during that visit, I was put in timeout because I was so hungry that I stuck my hands in the pot of food to eat. I got screamed at, pushed to the floor and was sent outside. When I was outside, I remember sitting on the steps and hearing a fire cracking sound. Only then I saw a pool of blood stream down the street and realized it was a shooting. I banged on the door in terror and was finally let inside. My brother and I slept on the floor and we slept with each other to keep warm because we did not have any blankets. We finally got out of that house, and went to a house that had two parents and an 25 year old named Erica. I remember her because this is the one incident and image that will never ever leave my mind, no matter how much I want it to. One day, I was getting a drinking of water from the toilet.. Yes, the toilet, and I remember hearing a few sounds coming from down the hall. I went towards the noise only to see that my brother was being raped, and was being forced to do things to Erica. I quickly ran away, as she noticed and closed the door. I ran and hid underneath the closest bed I could find. I didn’t know how to react because I was just a little kid. That house had about 4 cats, I remember the one Snow White cat named snowball. Heres why, snowball would attack me every time I walked passed her, I would get scratched up and would bleed because of the scratches (this is where my fear of cats comes from). After we left that house, surprise surprise, we went to another home. This was where we began to lose all hope, all faith, and all light. Another foster child, named Ebony was with us at this house. I remember the only thing we were given to eat was yellow American cheese. Ebony went into the refrigerator to get cheese, and the couple that watched us, took a ruler and began to smack Ebony, my brother and me. Later, I remember the female going into the bathroom and turning on the bath tub to hot water. I could see the steam coming from the room. I remember her dragging Ebony in there, I heard loud screams and banging against the wall. I remember a few hours later hearing sirens and seeing two men wearing a uniform taking Ebony in her hands and out the door, we were then taken at that moment as well. I never saw her after that but I kept up with her story. She suffered severe burns, and had gotten huge infections in her feet and had to be kept in the children’s hospital. I will, end with the gruesome stories right there, but just know that there are plenty more. We went back to the second house we ever went to, I remember Donna saying these exact words “Hey Breanna, Hey Dawonye, we have a family that is looking to adopt two kids. Their names are Bernadette, and Daniel.” She pulled out a picture of them and I can remember just staring at the picture and saying that we want to see them. The process was long, but not as long as it was normally suppose to be. We went to meet them at the Camden Aquarium parking lot. I remember seeing them pull up and waving, we hopped in the car and the first thing I said was “can we call you mom and dad”. They of course said “yes”. Then we called them Bernadette and Dan as they drove off to take us to Burger King. We ate so much food, we ate French toast sticks, and my brother was drinking the syrup, as he was singing Nellys “Its getting hot in here”. We went to the aquarium and the visit soon ended. We cried all the way back to the foster home. The process was supposed to take a year, but it ended up taking one week, because the foster home did not want us back and Dan and Bernadette did. I remember arriving at the house with a black trash bag of absolutely nothing. We didn’t have clothes, we had different shoes in small sizes, and a pink bike. I hopped on that sucker and crashed right into the tree. At that moment I think my parents realized I was a tad bit crazy. I then was able to meet my adopted family with the new brothers and sisters I had. Danny, Alissa, Danielle, and Joseph. We went to school that Fall, and it was extremely hard. We had to deal with a few people being bullies and being mean, but at the same time that was when I met my best friend Alexa Guiliano. She helped me through a lot, because we were judged having white parents. I remember the girls, Sam, Ashley, and Sandra (not their actual names) made fun of my brother and I saying “You’re parents aren’t white, they can’t be because you guys are black”. I said eh they don’t realize theres such a thing called adoption. When it was finally known that we were getting adopted people began to accept it and believe that our parents were white. That didn’t stop the bullying and the name calling. I remember through out middle school, my brother was always bullied. I remember the kids calling him names such as “faggot” and “gay”. I was over protective of him, because I didn’t like seeing him upset and seeing him cry. In 5th grade a kid, Toby (not his actual name), called him a faggot and I took initiative and punched the kid in the stomach. I was suspended and I remember the guidance counselor and the principal saying “we know what Toby said was wrong and we understand that you punched him but because of school policy of you punching him we have to suspend you”. I was furious and angry because they kept disregarding the fact that my brother was being bullied day in and day out. 4th grade and up I didn’t get bullied anymore because I was like a jock, I was the star player of my middle school basketball team, I was considered as one of the “popular kids”. Dad was the coach of the team, and we won a lot of championships. However, I wasn’t the smartest when it came to getting older. for two years my 5th grade and 6th grade year I was getting into a lot of trouble. I was rude to substitute teachers, I began to become what people were to me. A bully. I was making fun of people, I was getting in school suspensions and out of school suspensions, and came close to getting kicked out a few times. I started acting up really badly when my brother began running away from home. He had issues that he suffers from because of the things we went through when we were young. Most people called it “acting out” but the psychologists, and I call it, a cry for help, because he didn’t know how to get rid of his anger that he was feeling. To be honest I didn’t either, but I didn’t act out the way he did. He ran away, did things that were hurtful to him and others, there were a bunch of police visits here and there, and a lot of anger. He was put into a children’s home for those who are struggling emotionally. I remember visiting him and feeling so hurt because I wanted to help him so bad but I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t take away his anger, I couldn’t take away his pain. Thats when I started feeling suicidal. I wanted to leave because I didn’t have my brother by my side anymore, he was going through so much and I didn’t know what to do about it. I remember when my parents found out that I was feeling that way, they asked me if thats how I really felt. I always denied it and said no because I was tired of getting evaluated from different hospitals, and psychologists. I felt suicidal for a long time, and it was real. I scared myself feeling that way because I thought it was the only way out, the only way I can get rid of the pain I was feeling. I began to see my therapist Bruce often because of it, and of course I lied to him to saying I didn’t feel that way because I wanted everyone off my back about it. Until, I scared myself by almost doing it. I reached out to Bruce and I admitted that I needed help. He worked with me for years, throughout my time in high school as well. People would ask me where my brother is and I wouldn’t answer them at all because I was afraid to say where he was and how bad he was doing. I managed to cope with it through basketball. Basketball was my outlet for a lot of things. One, to get my mind off of the past, two, to keep me in the right path to success, and three, to get me to where I eventually want to be in life. My childhood, left scars, and wounds, that are still in the process of healing. I am still growing, and I am still learning. The images and memories of how I grew up will never go away, and they will always be there. However, they will be there for growth, and motivation. The quote I have down below is something that I got tattooed on me for two reasons. One, to get me through my past, and two, to get me through the present. That is my childhood story and I hope you all have learned something from it.
-Bre Cavanaugh #10
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9