In this post, we see what the first days together are like for Lucy (a wife and mother of 2 with a part-time job) and her family as they are joined by Maria and her son Juan who are seeking asylum in the United States.

 

“One of your top priorities needs to be to get [Juan] into counseling.  He has lost a lot of weight and he won’t even look me in the eye anymore.  He used to laugh and play but he doesn’t do that now.”  That is what Lucy was told by the person who had been assisting Maria and Juan during the 5 1/2  months that they waited in Tijuana.

 

Lucy and her family pick up Maria and Juan from the airport.

Here are Lucy’s thoughts and reflections:

I’m not a psychologist but it sounds like he has CPTSD (PTSD but for people who have had the trauma over an extended length of time instead of a one time trauma.)  I’m trying to find a native Spanish speaking therapist who specializes in pediatric trauma.  I have someone lined up via SKYPE but I don’t know how much it will cost.
Maria was able to call her sister in Central America on WhatsApp.  Tomorrow we tackle calling for a lawyer, registering for school, and maybe setting up a phone plan.  I need to find a local friend for Maria.

Some days later…

Wow wow wow…this is quite the ride…  Yesterday, Juan wouldn’t go to school.  We went to the school at the end of the day so that Juan could meet the teacher.  The teacher doesn’t speak any Spanish, and there aren’t very many students in the school who speak Spanish.  The teacher said that there was one girl in the class who was bilingual and she would make sure that Juan sat next to her. Today, Juan wouldn’t wake up.  He claimed,  “I don’t like the teacher.  No one will understand me.  I’m sick.”  I told Maria that she should try to get Juan to go to school, if even for an hour, and then I went to work.  Apparently, immediately after I left, Juan woke up and even made it to school on time.  He had a great time.
The phone that I got for Maria doesn’t have WhatsApp (the most important feature that she needs.)  I’ll have to go sort that out at some point or find someone who knows more about cell phones than I do.
When we got back from getting the phone, guess who was at our house?  Juan.  He ran away from school during lunch and used our door code to get in.  I called the school to tell them that he was at our house so they wouldn’t be worried.  It turns out that they were searching frantically for him.  They were very apologetic.  I’m glad that Juan successfully found our house and remembered the code to get in.  Sigh.  So much for an easy beginning.
We have an appointment with a lawyer at 10:00 next month.  The lawyer doesn’t speak Spanish but can provide us with a translator for $75/hour.  The consultation is $150.  I’m asking around now for help with a translator.
First ICE check is just before Thanksgiving.  I don’t know if I mentioned this, but Maria is wearing an ankle monitor.  It is pretty tight.
We still haven’t made it to the mercado for Latin American food.
My son’s birthday is on Saturday.  I’m going to admit that I am a little overwhelmed.  On the one hand, I know that I am doing something good.  On the other hand, I really don’t want my kids to feel neglected.  I knew that this was going to be a lot of work and guess what?  It is a lot of work. It is satisfying but I can see that I am only getting started.  As soon as I am able to breathe, I need to start doing whatever we need to do to reunite Maria with her daughter.  They have been apart for almost a year.  it is supposed to be a pretty easy process and I want it to happen as soon as possible.  Maybe by Thanksgiving in 2 weeks?  That might be a bit optimistic.

Next week Lucy grapples with some tough issues including a language barrier, the White Savior complex, reunification challenges, financial decisions in affording therapy and an attorney, and more.

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