I talked to my Lakota friends yesterday. This is the friend whose daughter was raped and got pregnant while she was in state custody. (If you are a new reader, in the interest of not rehashing several years of this girl’s history, I invite you to search my archives under the category “Lakota friends” to find out more about my friends.) It seems my “goddaughter” has another move in store for her.
This 15 year old is in state custody because she was a chronic runaway and was getting into self-destructive behavior (drinking, etc). The tribe did not have the resources and she had also run afoul of the state courts (the judge was very upset when she ran away rather than attend a court date). She was placed in a girls’ home in Mitchell, SD, which is where the pregnancy occurred.
She is no longer in that home, having been transferred to a home in a location that is slightly closer to the reservation for the short term. Yesterday her mom told me about the new plans.
When my friend spoke with her daughter’s Juvenile Corrections Advocate, she was told the state did not have any openings in any close facilities and therefore her daughter would probably be sent to Georgia. Georgia?! You mean the state near Florida? 1500 miles away? No family, no friends, no culture that’s familiar. My friend was understandably very upset.
When she finally calmed down, she asked why her daughter wasn’t going to the facility in Utah that she’s been trying to get someone to send her daughter to for 2 years. The Advocate agreed to look into it and, perhaps because she has had so much trauma in state custody, it is all set to happen – in about a week.
I looked up the facility in Utah. They have excellent credentials. The grounds and buildings are clean and inviting. They have an equine program – something that ought to strike a real chord with a young Lakota woman. Also, importantly, she has extended family in the area – a grandmother on her father’s side, aunts, uncles and cousins. There will be support available.
It is a long way from the reservation, to be sure. She may not get to see her mom very much. But she will be safe and perhaps will learn finally – learn self-control and ways to deal with the anger she has over 2 rapes.
My husband and I are planning a trip to the reservation in June of this year. By that time we will know how things are going for my “goddaughter” in Utah. When we were talking about the trip, we decided that we would take my friends to visit my “goddaughter” if she was able to have visitors at that time. It will be a day and a half trip each way, but it will be worth it.
I called my friend this morning to ask her if that would be something she would like. She was actually speechless – very uncommon for her. She is very happy with the idea and very excited to get to see her daughter, her “baby”.
Having just written yesterday about sponsoring, I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about the costs involved in sponsoring. We did start out by sponsoring this girl 5 years ago, but now we are friends. We love our friends and their children. These plans are the actions of friends, not just sponsors. Also, we consider this part of our vacation, so it is saved for and paid for before it happens. This is not something that would happen in the average sponsorship situation.
If it all works out, I will certainly give everyone an update. I’ll talk about the program more and my “goddaughter’s” adaptation to it.
I’ll tell you one thing — this appears to be a move in the right direction!!