Outside the court room, of the Child In Need of Care Hearing, I sat in a chair with my legs swinging back and forth in an unsteady rhythm. My siblings also sat in chairs beside me. A strange woman, a probation officer, sat with us. I had been jerked out of a deep sleep at home and was ordered to dress myself as quickly as possible. Breakfast was forgotten in the rush to get to the Court House. I did not know what was happening. Strangers surrounded us. I was apprehensive and could feel my legs quiver. My hands shook with anxiety and my stomach heaved and felt queasy. All of us avoided eye contact.
When the court room door opened, a police officer came out and talked to the strange woman. She looked back at us and ordered us to follow her. She led us out of the building and into a car. My anxiety grew. I did not know her name. I did not know where we were going. I knew someone had done something wrong, but I didn’t know who. The woman pulled up to a big building and there were other buildings further out. She motioned for us to get out. I sat there with two of my siblings, glued to the car seat, unable to move. She spoke sharply and ordered us out of the car to follow her. We all went into a huge entry room and stood, watching every thing and every one. My eyes darted over the room trying to figure out ways to escape. Still, no one had informed us what was happening. We were told to sit and the probation officer went in to talk to the Administrator.
Another woman came into the building. She went in and spoke to the administrator, came out, and told us to come with her. We followed her like robots out of the building. We did not know if we were going to be punished. We never got the chance to say good-bye to our parents, or collect our belongings from home. We entered another big building and went up a flight of stairs. There was a big room to my right that was empty. We passed two locked doors and went down to a huge room at the end of the hallway. I looked in and there were two long rows of small beds. It was a dormitory for girls. She took my siblings and I down to a cabinet and got clean sheets, towels, and wash cloths for us. Then she went into another walk-in closet and took out several pairs of underwear and socks. She handed us clean dresses to wear.
We stood there confused, unable to comprehend where we were and who this woman was. Surely we were not going to be here long. She then took us into a big bathroom full of showers and toilets. We were told to undress, take a shower, and put on the clean dress. I felt anger come over me. My clothes that belonged to me and were a part of my identity were being snatched away. This woman, who I did not know, was going to watch me undress and take a shower. I did not trust her. I did not feel safe here. My name had not been spoken once today. I still did not know her name. I finally gave up on trying to fight for my rights, and took a shower. (To be continued in Part Three.)