Lasted approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.
At about 4:30 yesterday (Monday) afternoon I got a phone call from a worker at my agency (it really needs a blog name but I haven't come up with one yet!) saying that they had a 17 year old girl in need of a resource family. The only information they could give me is that she had been picked up by the police that morning when they busted a child prostitution ring. After working out a few details, I agreed to have her placed with me.
I then spent the next hour freaking out and cleaning my house. Seriously. If you follow me on Twitter or if I have your cell phone number you probably got the picture.
But once Catie* got to my house, I settled down and remembered that I like kids(and teens) and generally engage them pretty well. We sat and chatted with her caseworker for a little while and then decided to take a quick trip to Tar-gey to grab a few supplies.
During our shopping excursion, things seemed to be going pretty well. I now know a whole lot more about prostitution than I did six hours ago. (This is an aspect of humanity that I wish just didn't exist - truly, it hurts my heart.) We bought Catie a pair of pajamas, a toothbrush, and a couple other things to tide her over until the next day when her stuff was supposed to get to my house. We chatted easily and she wasn't shy about telling me about her life. I took most of it with a grain of salt - but figure that enough of it was true to know that she'd been abused by everyone her entire life. She said that she wanted to get her life together and do something more with her life. However, she also admitted that she had feelings for the guy (her pimp) and that walking away from the money she was making wasn't going to be easy.
Which is why I wasn't all that surprised when I got out of my shower and discovered she was gone.
Maybe I shouldn't have left her alone - but realistically I also know that isn't really possible. She had been compliant and polite all night - she'd just taken a shower and said she was going to sleep. My shower was no more than 15 minutes but when I got out my back door was wide open and her shoes were gone. She did leave her clothes (both her old ones and some of the ones I just bought her) which threw me off for a second. I walked down my back stairs just to make sure she hadn't gone out for a cigarette (she'd told me she smoked). But once I got to the bottom and she wasn't there - I knew she was gone.
Many phone calls were made, police reports were filled out, and now I'm blogging because I can't quite convince myself just to go to sleep.
I hope that she is picked up again soon. I want to believe that some part of her really does want out of this life. I want to believe if people keep giving her other options that one day she'll take one. And I can't help but think of another pretty, young girl who told me a similar story just a little over a year ago. I don't want to see Catie end up the same way.
I'm not taking her running away personally. I'm not regretting giving her a chance. I'm not regretting spending my time or money on her. I'm not regretting any of it.
I plan to write her a letter and leave it with her caseworker when I drop it off with her clothes. I want her to know that, for whatever its worth, I am not mad at her and that I do hope that she finds a better way to live her life. I hope one day she thinks back to the couple of hours she spent with me and remembers that I was nice and seemed to care about her feelings and her safety. If that thought crosses her mind even once... then I've done my part.
I'll be keeping her in my prayers and hope that you will too.
*Not her real name.