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OC HIGH: STUDENTS NESW AND VIEWS : Voices FROM ORANGEWOOD

November 04, 1994

They are the abused, the abandoned, the neglected. The teen-agers and others who live at Orangewood Children's Home are in a holding position, waiting at this temporary shelter in Orange for the courts to decide where they should go next. Some call Orangewood home for only a few days, others for many months. While they wait, there is the work of dealing with the situations that brought them to this place. And there is school. Among those who work with the students at the William Lyon School at Orangewood is artist-in-residence Mary Linn Hughes, who collaborated with teens on an art project in which they expressed themselves in words and photo illustrations. Over about a four-month period, about 30 teens were involved in the project.

Their stories:

*

I was placed in Orangewood because my mom's boyfriend beat me on my face with his hand. I wish he would have waited until my mom would have got home so she could deal with it instead of him.

My advice to parents? Just like if you have the urge to hit 'em, try to hold it back and hit something else. Like go outside and hit a punching bag or something.

*

My mom passed away. And then I went to my father. My father took me in and after about a month, he put me on a bus back here to California. Said he didn't want to be a father no more.

My mom knew she was going to die so she pretty much raised me knowing how to live on the streets and knowing how to live life. I pretty much had to be an adult since I was about 10 and take care of myself and I think more children, to a point, should have to do that--learn how to take care of themselves. And I'd pretty much tell parents to let their children do that--to let the children make their own decisions.

*

I ran away from my other placement. I was there because of family problems. If I had the power to change things, I'd get a new mom and dad. If I could give them advice, I'd tell them to not mess up--that's all.

Why can't we be treated fairly like all the grown-ups and stuff?

*

I was failing at my foster home because I got bad grades and they thought I wasn't trying hard enough. I was placed in a foster home because my dad, he kept leaving me and my sister and I guess the school found out and they took us away and said it was child abandonment.

If I had a child, I would probably show more attention toward him or her and I would always be there if they had a question. I wouldn't let them go to their friends all the time like I had to.

*

My daughter got taken away and got put in here and I came here on my own to get her back. I had my own apartment and a job and I took care of my daughter so I felt like I should have been treated like more of an adult because I didn't go screw around and act immature.

I hope my daughter has a happy life and not so hard. Hopefully we'll be able to look back on this and laugh. My mom was in foster homes for two years so she went through the same thing and her mom did too, so I guess it runs in the family--at some point in time being in the system. I would tell parents to just try to raise them with love and understanding and protect them from what's out there and try not to hurt them.

*

I was brought to Orangewood by campus police at UCI Medical Center. I was in the psychiatric ward there. I put myself there because I was having depression and all that. And the reason I came to Orangewood was because when I was ready to get out of the hospital, my mom couldn't take me. If I could change one thing it would be go live with my mom and have everything better.

*

My dad was hitting me and abusing me so a social worker came to my house and brought me here. My dad has an attitude problem. He can't take it out on himself so he takes it out on anybody he can lay his hands on.

If we were in a courtroom, I'd probably say, "Your honor, these parents have no right to treat kids like they've been treated. I don't think they should be abused that way because I don't think it's fair or right 'cause you guys weren't brought up that way. If you were, well that's too bad--you should have done something about it." I'd probably say then, "You'll never see your kids again."

*

When I lived in San Fernando, my mom wanted to live in Anaheim so she left our apartment and brought us to Anaheim. We had nowhere to stay and she had us in shelters, and peoples' houses we didn't know, for like three weeks. And one day this lady that we knew for a couple of days was mad that we were living in the street so she called the police and they brought us here--me and my brother and my sister.

Yeah, I want to go back with Mom but she moves a lot and I want to stay in one place for a long time. It's better here for me than staying with my mom.

I think people should try to understand the kids because this world is harder than it seems.

*

I am 14 and I'm pregnant and my mom kicked me out because she didn't want to deal with me or my new baby. I would have appreciated some more understanding from my mom since she was in the same position when she was my age.

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