My case worker and her supervisor completely invaded my privacy and went through my bags to make sure I wasn't bringing anything harmful, which pissed me off but was whatever. Not like I've got a say in anything here.
Now I'm sitting in the passengers seat of my workers car, heading down to the station, while her partner and supervisor follow us in the car behind us. Apparently they have cases like these happen all the time because they were telling me how they had a kid sent all the way to California for foster care.
Before we got in the car they briefed me on the situation and what comes next. Basically I'm taken to the airport and I get on a plane for the outer banks at 5pm today and then the DSS for that county takes me to my families house and sort of settles me there. Yuck.
When we arrive at the station we don't even go inside, they just put my bags in the back of her partners car and me in the passengers seat, and off we went. None of this felt real. About halfway into the ride to the airport, my case workers partner speaks. "My names Devin, how're you feeling right now?"
Just the mere question of being asked how I feel makes me want to let out all of the tears and feelings I have bottled up right now, but there's no way in hell thats happening. I just keep the talking to a minimal and nod my head, leaning my head against the cool glass of the car window.
The more and more that I think about this, the more that I hate this. I'm going to have to live with complete strangers. In their house. My dad is in fucking jail, and this all is just a mess. It's crazy how your life can just absolutely turn upside down in less than 24 hours. None of this even feels real.
When we get inside the airport, Devin helps me check in my bags and then gives me instructions on what to do after I get through security. I nod and he watches as I walk off, through security. I replay the instructions in my head. Go to the gate on the ticket and wait, board the plane, and find DSS worker in airport near baggage claim in Outer banks.
I've never been in an airport before, so I look at my ticket and read gate 64. I looked at the signs hanging on the ceiling. I see 28, 29, and 30. Since the numbers are getting bigger, I follow the hallway for quite a while through many twists and turns until I reach 64. I take a seat at the several seats in the area, and glance at the time on the TV screen.
It's 4:02, and it feels like it should be 9pm by now. I honestly just wanna go home and cry in my bed. There aren't a whole lot of people in my area, but the people that are around all look at me sideways with weird glances, probably because I look so young and I'm all by myself. I count the tiles on the floor while the time passes, tapping my foot anxiously while I wait.
Boarding the plane begins, and I get in the small line of people boarding the plane. One of the airport workers scans my boarding pass, and I walk through a strange looking tunnel onto the plane. I sit at the seat on my boarding pass, and as time passes, nobody sits next to me. I've got the whole row to myself.
The flight itself is 3 and a half hours, which flew by. I don't mind the ride very much, it's not very bumpy and there's minimal turbulence. When the plane lands, I take a deep breath and exit the plane. I follow everybody who was on the plane with me to baggage claim, and frantically look around. I've got no idea where the DSS workers are, or what they look like.
Turning around and scanning the huge room, I spot my two bags going around on the baggage carousel. I drag them off of it and a light tapping on my shoulder startles me. I whip my head around to be greeted by a woman in a uniform similar to what my case worker and her partner wore.
"Laila Roberts?" she asked, with an bubbly expression. I answered her question with as much enthusiasm as I could fake, and she gave me a hug. She was much more lively and happier than my case worker, but I'm not really sure now is the time for that. I just want this all to be over already.
"My name is Hannah and I'm going to take you to the Hale's families house!" she says, grabbing one of my bags and leading me out of the airport by hand like a young child. When we reach her car, I see that it's a nice jeep. It's dark outside, but the parking lot lights up the area enough. I put my bag in the backseat, and climb in the front seat.
"The Hale's are so excited to meet you! We don't get many new kids here in the DSS system out here! What all have you heard about your new family sweetheart?" Hannah asks me, and I scrunch my nose in confusion. I explain to her that I've been told absolutely nothing and this was all sprung on me, and she just nods her head as she drives us out of the parking lot.
The ride there wasn't silent at all, and she told me all about the island and my new family. They've got a daughter who's 17, and a foster son who's 10. They sound super sweet from what i've heard so far. Hannah also explained to me that the island has a sort of class system that's split into two, the kooks and the pouge's. Apparently the kooks are the rich and good people, and according to her the pouge's are who I need to avoid.
We arrived at a remarkably large house around 9:30pm, and a friendly looking middle aged woman greeted us outside and helped Hannah carry my bags inside. I timidly followed behind Hannah, with a lump stuck in my throat. It was startling to all sink in. I'm living here with people I have never met. Not once in my life. This lady is my "mom".
I follow them inside shyly and through a hallway into a living room the size of my whole entire apartment. Inside the living room their older daughter and son sit on the couch, and the man I assume to be their, or I guess my Dad walks into the room with a huge grin on his face.
"Hi!! You must be Laila, we've been so excited ever since we found out you were coming to stay with us!" The woman says, wrapping me in a huge hug. At this point I'm so exhausted that I appreciate the hug, and melt into it. After stepping back, I look all across the room at everybody. They all seem so nice and welcoming, almost too good to be true.
"Welcome home sweetheart!" Hannah says, them begins to introduce me to everybody. Their older daughter's name is Payton, their son's name is Dawson, and the parents name's are Katie and Ron. Every single one of them were extremely welcoming, and Katie and Ron went to the kitchen with Hannah to sign papers and sort things out, leaving me standing in the living room with Payton and Dawson.
Things are extremely awkward as I stand there for atleast half a minute, I think. "Hey, I'm super glad you're here, you can come take a seat if you'd like." I lift my gaze from the floor to Payton's gentle looking face, and walk over and sit across from her. I cannot explain how incredibly awkward this whole situation is. I wonder how they truly feel about me? Like do they actually like me? Do they feel like I'm just invading their house?
"So tell me a little bit about yourself Laila, I don't bite haha" she says with a promising sounding giggle, which takes some of the edge off of my stress. I hesitate for a few seconds before leaning back into the couch and opening up a little bit to her.
"Well, I'm not that interesting because I came from a y'know, troubling place? But my favorite color is blue, I loooove to draw, and dogs are my favorite animal." I tell her, spitting out random things about myself in hopes that I don't sound like a complete fool.
She tells me a little bit about herself and mentions that they actually have a german shepherd in the back yard which genuinely made me excited, and then tells me to follow her so she can show me around. I stand up and follow her down another hallway, which leads to a huge set of stairs.
I follow her up the stairs and to a railed hallway to the right, where she opens a door which reveals a room that is almost the size of their living room, which is bigger than my apartment. She opens another door which leads into a bathroom bigger than my room back at home, with a huge glass shower, and a separate tub inside, and then a closed off toilet section.
"This bedroom and bathroom combined is bigger than the apartment I lived in at home, holy crap." I say with a gasp, and Payton giggles. "Welcome to kook life, lil sis" she says, making me feel oddly secure.