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Aging Out
My Story
David Griffin
Risa Bejarano
Daniella Anderson
Keely Lopez
Thomas Hudson

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Risa feeds her pet turtle
Risa feeds her pet turtle.

RISA: I started hearing voices when I was at school. I thought my sister was calling me and I thought that my mom was there. I just felt like the world was against me, like I was hated. I remember Dolores just leaning over the bed touching my face, caressing me, and she said, "It's okay, honey." I was glad that Dolores was there for me.

Too ill to return to school, Risa went back to live with Dolores. However, with six foster children in the house, there was no spare room for Risa. She had to stay in Dolores' office and sleep in Dolores' bedroom.

RISA: I didn't expect to come back here. I expected to have my own place, have more things going for me than what I do now. I lost a lot of respect for myself. I felt angry for doing drugs, not doing as well as I can in school. I have nightmares about being in the hospital still. I didn't know if it was okay for me to come back because of everything that I've done. But I'm glad that I can come back. Trust me, I won't mess up. I won't.

Three months after she went to the hospital, Risa was back in school and working at Ralph's grocery store. She was taking three classes at Rio Hondo College, a community college, and had hopes to return to Santa Barbara the following year.

RISA: I don't feel depressed at all. I'm not taking the medication anymore. The doctor doesn't even know I'm not taking it anymore. I don't have a relationship with my mom. I'm okay with that. I have a mom. Dolores is my mom. Dolores' house is home to me now.
Taking classs at Rio Hondo College
Risa taking classs at Rio Hondo College.
Video of Risa at her new job and community college

With a $6.75 an hour job, Risa was trying to save money for a new apartment she was getting through a local independent living program.

RISA: I'm moving into my own apartment in September and I'm living there for the next year. Dolores is going to help me move. She wants to see me succeed, but I think the door's open and I will come and visit. I have to come back to mom and complain about my roommate or about the food or about something. I feel like it all happened for a reason and now I can start all over again.

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