Sunday, February 20, 2011

A transcription

What follows is a word-for-word transcription of my last texts with Odessa. Elaboration to follow.

2/19, 6:43 pm: Me: Sweetheart, I'm disappointed that you ignored me this afternoon when you left. Please text me to tell me where you are and when you'll be home.
2/19, 8:21 pm: Me: I'm concerned because you haven't responded to my text. Please text me to tell me you're alive and safe, where you are, and when you'll be home.
2/20, 12:16 pm: Me: Hi sweetie, have a good afternoon. Do you expect to be home for dinner?

2/20, 3:44 pm: Me: I am trying to figure out my evening. Are you planning to be home for dinner?
2/20, 3:45 pm: Odessa: No bye
2/20, 3:48 pm: Me: Thank you for letting me know. Be safe and I'll see you by 10.
2/20, 3:50 pm: Odessa: Im comin in when i feel like it
2/20, 3:52 pm: Me: No. You have been disrespectful for the last 24 hours. You will be home by 10, no arguments. There will be consequences in you are late and they will be more than just an earlier curfew for the week.
2/20, 3:55 pm: Odessa: I dont give a fuck u can do whatever the fuck u feel like im not bout to deal with that shyt do what u want...

If you look closely, you will see that I sent Odessa four text messages before she responded to any.

Yesterday she asked for her allowance. She gets her allowance on Sunday, and while I'm not averse to some flexibility, I cannot handle money on Shabbat, and she got $500 from her brother just this past Sunday. I was not unsympathetic to her desire to get her hair done, but trying to impart some real world lessons. I don't always have the money on hand for her allowance until Sunday morning, and in the real world, her pay day will be her pay day, and she won't be able to go to her boss and say "I need to get my hair done today because the girl can't do it tomorrow or Monday." Maybe the conversation could have gone better on my end, but after Odessa spent a few minutes cursing at me, she opted to put on her coat and storm out of the apartment without responding to my questions or even to my saying goodbye.

I texted her after Shabbat, the first text above.

She came home before her curfew but didn't speak to me at all. At one point I said to her that I was going to the laundry room to get my laundry, she'd had 10 hours to be mad at me, and when I got back upstairs I expected her attitude to be better.

No such luck.

This morning I left while she was still in bed. I knocked on her door, put her allowance next to her on her bed, told her I was going out and would be back later.

After I got to my car I realized I'd forgotten something, so I went back inside, at which point Odessa was awake and talking on the phone. I went back to her room and tried to get her attention (I think it's rude to interrupt someone on the phone, but would never have the opportunity to speak to Odessa if I didn't)...I mentioned her allowance, I said again that I was going out, I told her to text me if she needed me, I asked her to talk to me...nothing.

Then was the no response text early this afternoon, and then finally, after more than 24 hours, the first acknowledgement Odessa gave that I'm alive.

After the unpleasant exchange, she called her lawyer, who then called me. She told me that if Odessa isn't home by her curfew, I should call the police and tell them that I'm a foster parent and my foster daughter isn't home by curfew and to ask to file a missing persons report. I hate the idea of doing this, hate the notion of "criminalizing" being late for curfew, hate involving the police especially with these kids who think that the police are going to be called any time they do anything wrong, and wouldn't do it EXCEPT that Odessa's attorney is the only person who has been constant in her life since she's been in care, is a really great, caring attorney, shares a lot of my values, and even so she is the one who suggested this as a response.

So I'm keeping it in my back pocket as an option.

(I should add that last night there was a teenage female who was shot and killed in one of the neighborhoods where I suspect Odessa hangs out. She was home by the time I learned about this, but this is part of why I don't like it when she doesn't tell me where she is.)


  1. Do you think the lawyer might consider Odessa a flight risk?

  2. In previous placements, she's run away for weekends at a time but always came back for school. Odessa did try to run away last night after she came home, but I prevented her from doing so and think things are a bit better today.

  3. Oh my gosh. You must have amazing restraint. Can't handle kids cursing me, just can't. I think the lawyer's advice is sound. Keep on keeping on.