Their Stories Matter
From the very beginning we always had DSS cases open on us!
We had social workers coming to our house and they would play little
family games with us but never had they taken us.
Savannah, our biological mother, coached us in saying things that made
it seem like we were a good or at least an okay family.
That was until I decided to call DSS myself.
I was 14 when I called DSS and it was 2018 I believe, the summer
before my freshman year in high school. I can still remember the day I
called like it was yesterday. It was life changing.
I was at an friend’s house in Lincolnton, I had spent the weekend there.
An old family friend had come to pick me up to take me back home in
Shelby. He told me, “hurry up and get your stuff, I want to go by my house to
fill up some liters and jugs with water and go to the grocery store for y’all.
Your water is off again and so is the electricity." I started crying and my
friend, who was my best friend at the time, comforted me. It was the
moment I finally told her everything that was going on.
She helped me make the call. We sat under the tree in her front yard
and called the social worker who was handling my case at that time. I
was hysterical with tears; I could barely talk to the case worker, so my
friend spoke for me.
She helped set it up to where I could speak to the case worker in person.
The old family friend helped me go to the DSS office and speak to the
I remember sitting in there for three hours straight telling them everything from
the very beginning to that very day. I cried and rocked myself the entire
time, I even have a picture from that day because they needed to take
pictures of my elbows to show the bed bug bites.
After I had finished telling the case worker everything, I begged and
begged her not to tell Savannah because I knew it wouldn’t go well if she
found out I had called.
Before I made this call, I had been thinking about it since the moment
the case worker came to the house the first time. She had given me her
card in case I needed her for anything and I always kept it with me.
I would constantly weigh the pros and cons of telling the case worker
everything, the truth. I even prayed about it; I would ask God if he would
send me a sign.
That day when the family friend came to get me, I believed that was my
sign. I was so tired of the water and electricity getting shut off, and never
having enough to eat.
My family was never the church going type, but I would go with friends
when I spent the night. One of the main ones we went to was a Baptist
church in Lincolnton. My best friend at the time got us to go because the
church was able to pick us up.
I was even baptized one time; I was so excited about it. It wasn’t planned
or anything. I went with my friend one Sunday morning when I was in
elementary school and I felt pulled to be baptized. I was so nervous, but
I did it. I would try to pray before every meal after that but as a kid I
would forget very easily, especially since I was hungry a lot of the time.
But since I have come into care I try to pray before every meal. I mostly
just thank him for where I am at today and everything God has given me.
I remember when I first came into care and I would just catch myself
thanking God for something random and I would not even realize that I
was doing it. For example, one day I was walking out of the group home
I lived in, and I could smell the shampoo/conditioner in my hair and the
perfume/deodorant I was wearing. I remember being so happy
about it. I turned to one of the girls and said “I smell so good! I am so
grateful I get to.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. I was smiling and giggling about it,
then I thought to myself “thank you Lord.”
Eventually we were finally taken but it wasn’t until October of my
freshman year. Our new social worker came to pick me up first and
explained to me what was going on.
That’s another day that I remember very well because of my little brother
Gabe. We went to pick him up next and he asked what was happening
and the social worker explained it to him. I was sitting in the front seat
and he was right behind me. He didn’t care what was happening but
asked if he was going to be with me.
His hand on my shoulder, the social worker turned and looked at him
shaking her head apologizing. That’s when Gabe broke, he started
crying. I held his hand and tried my best not to cry because I wanted to
be strong for him. I will never forget that day, especially now with his
We went to go get Evan next because they had already sent someone to
get Ethan from his school. But Savannah, our biological mother, had
already got him from school.
The social worker took me to my placement which was a group home
called James Home. Ethan and Gabe were able to be placed together in
a foster home, and after they were able to get Evan from Savannah. He
was placed into a foster home as well.
I didn’t really experience the foster care portion of being in DSS Custody,
but I experienced the Group Home part of it. I was placed in an all girls
group home which you could probably gather from the name, was full of
DRAMA. I had never experienced as much drama as I did within the first
two years of living there.
Within the first couple of weeks living there everyone got grounded
besides me which I thought was funny. Not because I was sneaky but
because I chose not to act in what they were doing.
They had got caught smoking Black-N- Mild’s at the bus stop. They
would try to pass it to me or try to get me to smoke it, but I refused. I
wouldn’t even touch it. When they got caught, they even stuck up for me
and said I didn’t do it. I have many more stories like this, but we also
had our good times too. For example, we would all stay up late on the
weekends or in the summer watching horror movies. One of the girls had
become my best friend while living there. We were laying by one
another while watching a horror movie and I fell asleep. She had gotten
so mad at me and said “Kayla, are you really sleeping right now??” I just
laughed and said yeah. Sometimes all of us would be in one of the girl’s
rooms just talking about our stories or just talking about something
Even though there was so much drama going on we were still able to
get along with one another and have a good time. This experience has
helped me be prepared for college when I am placed with a roommate I
don’t know. I’ve learned to be able to accommodate to living with
strangers and get along with anyone.
I wouldn’t say that being in care really changed me, but it helped me
figure out what I want to do with my life. As a kid I knew I wanted to help
people, but I didn’t know exactly how. I thought about being a doctor or a
lawyer, but I am way too forgetful. I thought about being a massage
therapist because everyone liked my massages and I am very gentle, but I
When I came into care it opened the idea of being a social worker for
DSS. Ever since then it has stuck with me. Just like the day I felt pulled
to be baptized, I feel a strong pull to be a social worker. I want to be able
to use my story to help others and I feel social work is the best way to
go. I will be able to connect with those who share the same trauma that I
have experienced. I know it will come with late nights, lots of paperwork,
emotional days and nights, and times where people will show their hate
towards me, but I am okay with that. I still feel pulled knowing all of this.
I thought about being a therapist too, but it just didn’t attract me as much
as social work does.
I believe social workers are the hidden heroes, I know my social
worker is. I would say she has had the biggest impact on my life
besides my brothers. She helped me get my brothers and me into a
better environment. She helped me reach my goals, and she helped me
see what I wanted to be when I grow up. I also consider her as one of my
many mother figures, maybe the biggest one!!I still keep in contact with
her even though I have aged out.
I was supposed to get a new social worker, but I wanted to keep her
because she is one of the best!!