Monday, February 19, 2018

What You Don't Want to Know....

Seth and Pupcake after his birthday dinner

Keeland, whose nickname is "Pupcake," couldn't come to Seth's party at Chuck-e-Cheese because she's terrified of Chuckie. She's twelve, like Seth was before his birthday, and she's not autistic, but she has lots of learning disabilities and delays.So, she texted him and invited him to dinner a few days later at the Mexican restaurant. He was so excited!

They're alike in so many ways. The biggest one is that they are both "younger" than their numerical age. Some of her favorite Christmas presents, besides baby dolls, were some huge squeaky toys shaped like doughnuts, bagels, and other goodies. They were like anxiety-easing tools for her. She brought them over once, and when I peeked in to see how she and Seth were doing in the study, they were chatting away and both were playing with the giant pastries. 

Seth asked her to marry him, but we've had to explain that it would be much better to have a good friend than to try to have a girlfriend and scare her away! 

She loves school, even though the work is a challenge. I could see, when we stopped by at lunch time, so that Steve, our photographer on our Black History Project (see his work at Photos for Springfield Project ) could get a portrait of her, that she had a group of friends and was having fun.

c. Steve Pavey, Hope in Focu

It is understandable that Pupcake would have fears and anxieties. Her early years, before Pansy and Benjamin took her as a foster child, were chaotic and traumatic. I do not know all of the details, but I know she suffered neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Her biological mother was in and out of jail for drug-related issues and died just a few months ago from a drug overdose. I heard a man testify that he drove the mother to an assignation with a client and sat in the car with Keeland while the mother went in and served as a prostitute. The man who her mother was living with had been charged several times with domestic violence. This is why Pansy and Benjamin fought so desperately to have sole custody of her.

Pizza in Chicago!

When Pupcake, Pansy, Eric and I traveled to Chicago for Benjamin's hearing on asylum, I got to know Pupcake a little better. She'd never really traveled or been to a big city. Even though she understood the situation with her Dad, which is how she thinks of Benjamin, was difficult, she  hoped, as did Pansy, that he would prevail this time and Benjamin would be released. But it was not to be. She dressed up and fixed her hair with a pretty headband and was delighted when she saw him. She sat through the hours long hearing. She sat in the cubbyhole with Pansy where they were permitted to talk face-to-face (through a glass) with him. But I never saw her break down and cry or show despair. Either she didn't understand the impact of the setback, or she just had a numbness to the pain, or some of each.

Later, we were talking, and Pansy shared with me that among other diagnoses, Keeland/Pupcake had been diagnosed with Radical Attachment Disorder (RAD). It made sense that she would have this disorder, given what I knew about her early years. 

Still, she has a strong, albeit anxious, attachment to Pansy. She panics if Pansy is out of sight, and gets very worried about her is she doesn't feel well or if she is upset. 

Benjamin was a strong, steadying influence on Pupcake. He took her swimming and to other activities. She loves to be outdoors and he was out with her, working in his garden and in the yard. He's protective of her. Or, I should say, he was.

Because, by all indications, Benjamin will not be coming back to Pansy and Pupcake.

Like thousands of other immigrants, he's on the verge of being deported.

I know it would be easier for you to think that he must have committed crimes, or that he should have expected this, or that they shouldn't have gotten married. But the reality is that American farmers and companies created work for and hired people like Benjamin for decades because they are good, hard workers. The reality is that they came here and came back because they face danger or kidnapping at home. The reality is that Benjamin has no criminal record. Until this administration gave ICE the current orders, he would never have been deported.Stories Like Benjamin's

Have you ever put yourself in the shoes of a Mexican citizen living in a dangerous state? Have you ever wondered whether you'd try to go north to do better, live more safely, find a better way? The only "crime" Benjamin committed was trying to better himself. He's a great worker, community member, and church-going Christian. And our government, yours and mine, is spending tens of thousands to keep him in prison for months.  What is okay about this?

Another reality is that most Americans (who seems to have empathy for DACA recipients but not for people like Pansy... or as Benjamin told her, "No one cares about us. You're Black and I'm Mexican.") are going about their business without a thought for the inhumane and unjust treatment of families.

You can help Pansy, Pupcake and Benjamin. He's been incarcerated for six months. His health is failing. The appeals and legal challenges have cost thousands. Bills have mounted as Benjamin was the sole support for the family.  Even a small donation will help! They want you to know how grateful they are. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.