Youth Voices: Angel’s Story
By Shaoming Chang
County of Orange Social Services Agency
Angel, 20, has a passion for all things automotive. He is building his own electric bike and interns at a bike shop. He also attends Fullerton College, where he is working on earning an associates degree in automotive technology. Angel’s excitement for the future is driven by his desire to learn new skills and be independent. But Angel’s positive outlook wasn’t always so certain.
Angel and his brothers lived with several resource families during their stay in foster care. He remembers the families treated them well, but the feeling of being a family was never quite there. He recalls one particular home with a language barrier. “The resource parent mainly spoke Spanish and my brothers and I are English speakers. It was difficult to communicate. My social worker visited and did an inspection. We were removed from the home within one week of the visit,” Angel said. He strongly believes the ability to communicate is foundational for placement success.
Living in a short-term residential therapeutic program (formerly known as a group home) also presented some challenges. “I felt like an outsider. I noticed kids were treated differently if they had issues or were diagnosed with a disorder and were taking medication. Staff would get on us if we did not want to participate in group activities and for not following directions,” Angel said.
His experience at Orangewood Children and Family Center (OCFC) is a different story. “From the first day I entered, I received one-on-one counseling which I needed since I had no one to talk to. I needed an outlet to express my feelings. It provided relief,” Angel said. He fondly remembers the day when he attended a Dodgers’ game and enjoyed a McDonald’s meal afterwards. “We kids got to discuss what type of food we wanted after the game and we all had to agree where to go. I appreciate how the staff gave us a voice to make the decision,” Angel said.
“I ran away for 11 months and returned just before my 18th birthday. I got mad for no reason and allowed my feelings to build. I didn’t tell anyone how I felt or what I needed. Now I know I need to communicate more about my feelings,” Angel said. Past circumstances allowed Angel to become more aware of himself and what he needed to succeed. Angel made the decision to remain in care as a non-minor dependent. His future has never shone brighter.