I met with Ashley and Tristan Monday evening 7/23/2018 because I wanted to have them over to interview them. Why would I? Well I work with them at my other job and at first glance when you meet them you think, “Oh god just some more young woman who live with their parents, sleep around, and shop shop shop. Yes I stereotyped the living heck out of them…… They are young and pretty and they were just way to chipper. Working with them would be interesting to say the least.
(sorry girls but it will get better, I promise)
But to my ridiculous surprise they were way more then what I assumed at first. Ashley and Tristan are sisters and not your average sisters. Ashley is a single mom who lives with Tristan.— now wait hold on.. keep your judgeyness aside for a moment…(YES I MADE UP A WORD)
So they come over to my house and I feed them cause I see them eating, well what most young people on a budget eat… sandwiches and frozen pizza thingy’s that make me feel like Ive gained 5 pounds. (and we only have a microwave at work so yeah)
I am nervous.. I mean my first real interview but when they said that they were as open as a book, I got down right giddy… Imagine if everyone was as open as a book when you do an interview. What would we do with ourselves??
So why was I interested in these two ladies you may ask?
The foster care system.. People that make choices that affect other people, and how we learn from that and use that to teach others.
The Many Siblings
Ashley and Tristan are sisters from the same mother’s but different father’s but they weren’t the only ones. There was a total of 5 father’s and those went on to have other children and their mom had 7 total children. So between the mother and father’s both Ashley and Tristan have between 9-11 siblings if not more.
Who helped them
The Grandmother did try to help with the children because their mother, before the kids where taken, weren’t always around.
The Father :Tristan’s Story
By the time Ashley was old enough to take care of herself the children were split up and put into the foster system. As we talked it was amazing the ages and names that we all had to remember. The relationships that are close and the ones that aren’t.
I talked with Tristan about her experience with her father, siblings and the foster system.
Their mother at the time that Tristan was born had decided to put her up for adoption. However the father disagreed, and after a physical altercation with the woman from the adoption agency he took her to Montana until she was about five or six.
Tristan stated that, “I remember glimpses and stuff like being held under a tarp to hide me. If I ever saw someone with a suit at the door I was told to go downstairs.”
She then went on to say, “I remember the one time I was playing outside in the front yard and they just took me.”
Tristan was placed in foster homes, like I said when all the kids where taken and the children were placed in different homes. After Tristan was old enough she was given a choice to either stay in an extended foster care or move in with another family. She chose to go through the extended foster care which would give her the best path for independence but that meant not being with one of her siblings.
Tristan spoke a bit about foster care and how the other siblings were able to see each other. “Originally it was set up every Sunday to get time with one of my sisters but then we got a new social worker and the information from the previous social worker was never passed on to the next one.”
After Foster Care
When Tristan was in a program to see if she was fit to be independent she had to attend classes, such as how to do your taxes, and how to maintain a household, she also had to have money saved as well. The judge , not the social worker are the ones to make these judgements when they are a certain age and so it was up to the judge to make sure he felt Tristan was ready to be on her own.
She was then approached by a program called LINC or RYLC (Rochester Youth League Conference) which she would have her application turned in and they would meet together and discuss on different important topics such as homeless children in Rochester, MN.
During the time that Tristan attended this group, Mayo Clinic was planning on expanding for the destination medical center but that would leave a whole lot of young adults without homes and jobs since the affordable homes would be either torn down or rent would increase. The area was perfect since these young adults were within walking distance of jobs and homes.
Tristan did say that when she was more active in this group they were able to do things like care packages for young adults like that and also respite care as well.
Ashley being a single mom she struggles everyday to make sure that her son grows up knowing a stable home, and school. She also tries to make sure that her son knows his family. When they were growing up, they moved all the time, eviction, electricity sometimes shut off. Stability and control they were lacking in their childhood and so for Ashley it is so important to not only show her son a loving and caring environment but also a stable one.
I didn’t want to put to much about their mother because everyone has reasons for not being there or doing what they do– good or bad it is choices that we make. But with whatever happened between the mother and the children, Ashley and Tristan still feel their mother is a good person.
What I can say and what I did get permission to say is this…Addiction can tear families apart and a solution for the moment can ruin lives for years. But with these two sisters we see that they are warriors!!
Tristan opened up about herself that she can handle big things but the small things she struggles with, Ashley laughed and said, “Yea like the dishes!”
They both have their strengths and weaknesses. Tristan opened up and said that Ashley is a good listener and she is great at bouncing off ideas off of Ashley when she needs her help.
Ashley says that Tristan is always upbeat and a good big sister and she has a lot of love for each other and for their other siblings.
What they would wish for
Both of them agree that they would like to see more of their siblings. They do have relationships with some of them but other siblings are not interested. Tristan’s choices of not going into the home with the other sibling was hard but it is still a decision that she had to make to be successful as an independent person.
“It wasn’t meant to hurt anyone, It was just so that I could be ok.”
They would love to see all of the siblings in one picture together and have a better relationship with all of them.
Where would they see themselves in 10 years
Ashley would see herself in her own house and she would also like to see herself still at our job but in a management position. Possibly Married with maybe 1 other child.
Tristan would like to see herself being more of an advocate for children. She would like to see herself as a homeowner as well and a few more tattoos. She would like to see her siblings more down the road.
What would they like other people to know about both of them
Besides Ashley never being in a physical fight ….
“Everything that we have wasn’t given to us, we had to work really hard for everything, even the cars that we had, everything!”
What would they tell others in their circumstances
“First things first, you have to take things day by day because there’s nothing you can fix all at once. Growing up our life was chaotic and even now it is still chaotic till this day. Its not something that you can just brush off the shoulder, You adapt and move forward. Your family is important and trying to stay positive even if its the crappy situation because it could always be worse. You cant always control your situation but you can control how you handle it.”
Foster Care in General
At that time if there is no room for kids in Foster Care these kids get sent to Juvenile Hall
Tristan is trying to help create a bill to pass called the “siblings bill of rights” which they stop the kids getting sent to Juvenile Hall. These kids have to earn privileges even if they are under the foster system. The bill also would give these kids a way to reach out to their siblings..
Also the kids weren’t put in homes that were compatible with the child. Such as their sister who hadn’t attended church and then being put into a home that is very religious based. (there is nothing wrong at all with religion but when you have a child that is already going through so much, that’s difficult already)
Ashley is now about to purchase her first home and both Tristan and Ashley have full time Jobs. They don’t see them having or even wanting a relationship with their mother at this time.
Resources for how to become a foster parent and some resources
Resources for Homeless Individuals
The sibling bill of rights