by Kirti Anchanta (age 14, Clonee, Dublin 15)
You have the right to live with your parent(s), unless it is bad for you. You have the right to live with a family who cares for you. Photograph: Getty Images
“What do I remember?” I vividly remember hearing a knock on our door late at night. My brother and I didn’t move, we knew what to do already. We quickly put our hands over our mouths and stayed quiet. I think mom answered the door, we couldn’t really hear what they were saying, we were still in the closet. Dad came into us, flung the door open and grabbed us quickly. He moved us from the storage closet to the bedroom and told us to pretend that we were asleep and not to say anything, or else. We knew not to question him.
We were able to hear what they were saying better now, the woman was saying something about negligence and abuse, which at the time I did not know what was meant.
Then we heard footsteps coming up the stairs. I shut my eyes so fast that I got a piece of my dark hair stuck in my eye, but I did not dare to open them. A woman came into us and carefully woke us up. She told us that her name was Anne and that she was here to help. I remember how warm and nice her smile was. She asked if she could take me and my brother downstairs just to talk to us. I turned to my brother, who looked at me with a wounded look in his eyes. He then carefully and slowly shook his head.
I asked her if our parents knew. Anne gave me a confused and curious look and said, “yes, they do”, and asked if it would be a problem if they didn’t. I began to rapidly shake my head and I kept saying “no problem, no”. She then wrote something down in her notebook. She brought us downstairs. Mom and Dad were sitting on the old, red, dingy couch. When we walked in Mom said, “There’s our Angels. Are you guys okay?” They were smiling and had their arms wide open for us, which baffled me because we had never seen them smile like that before, like they were actually happy to see us.
Anne then made all of us stay in the living room with the two men. We hadn’t been downstairs in a year, I had forgotten the smashed TV box and the burnt carpet which had huge black holes in it, the smoky smell, the empty beer bottles piled up in one corner – the only new thing was a white plastic table and chairs which the man had just finished setting up. I was terrified through all of this, not of Anne or the two men but of our parents and what they would do to us after they left.
So as soon as Anne left to search the house I started to cry uncontrollably, I was crying out of hurt, fear, frustration and helplessness. I couldn’t take it any more. Then I could hear whimpers. I turned to look and saw that my brother had joined in. The man leaned down and told us that we didn’t need to cry because they were there to help and protect us and keep us safe. At that moment Anne came in, took one look at us and very calmly said, “Interviews now”. One man told my dad to follow him upstairs and the other told mom to follow him into the kitchen.
Anne sat us down on the chairs and then sat down on the other side and began to speak with us. She said, “Hi kids my name is Anne Vassel. I am a social worker, so there is no reason for you to be scared of me. I’m just going to ask you a few questions okay? Let’s get started, So, what are both of your names?” My brother answered for us: “My name is Mason and my sister’s name is Ava.” I remember she started flicking through her notes, nodded her head and said, “Yes, so you both are twins, and are eight years old. So why don’t you tell me about your school?” I told her about how we went when we were five years old and that was it. “So you went when you were five years old and never again?” I told her “Yes, we just went until we turned six.” I told her we haven’t see our friends since school ended. “Okay so what do you do at home, Mason?”
“We aren’t allowed to come downstairs normally, this is our first time down here in a year.”
“Okay, wow, so where do you guys stay, Ava?” I told her that we stayed in the closet, but when they got angry they would bring us to the hallway and either hit us or shout at us. “It’s never really both of them at the same time, it’s just which ever one is at home or angry.”
“Do people ever come to visit Mason?”
“Yes, mommy and daddy have parties sometimes, we know because that’s when the smoke comes and after everyone’s gone they come to us and are very angry that we aren’t asleep, so angry that we started to pretend that we were asleep but that doesn’t stop them from getting angry at us.”
My brother and I both started to cry at the same time. Anne gave us tissues but then asked what we eat normally. Mason was too emotional to answer so I told her exactly what we had which was a piece of bread each in the morning and that was it. I began to cry again but this time out of starvation. Anne told us that the interview was over, and gave us two chocolate bars. I remember Mason’s green eyes lighting up when he saw the chocolate.
The men brought mom and dad into the living room. Anne then proceeded to talk to the men. After she talked with them she asked us to show her if we were hurt. We were reluctant at first. I looked at Anne and she nodded so I showed her the bruise on my forehead which was covered with poorly cut bangs that my Mom did with a knife. I showed her the bruises on my stomach, the ones on my arms and legs. She asked us if we didn’t mind going to a hospital. She asked if it was okay to take pictures.
That was the last time we saw our biological parents. We left them without looking back. I am grateful for Anne and the two men, they changed our lives for the better. We were adopted by a lovely family who wanted us both. They made sure we had the life we never knew we deserved.
You have the right to live with your parent(s), unless it is bad for you.
You have the right to live with a family who cares for you