StandUp for Kids – Orange County
For 20-year-old Meeka, growing up has been anything but predictable. Adopted as a toddler, her new parents already had three much-older children of their own. They were always moving, and she was in turn forced to jump from school to school. Combined with harsh restrictions around seeing friends and the identity issues inherent in being adopted, both her social connections and her relationship with her parents began to suffer.
Looking back, Meeka believes their intentions were loving; but her parents’ strict demeanor led to her acting out, exhausted with the constant inability to, in simplest terms, “be a normal teenager.” She remembers high school being difficult, unable to even do homework without her parents looking over her shoulder constantly in efforts to ensure she was not socializing with friends. Most days were spent going to school and then straight home — no homecoming football games, dances, sleepovers with friends, or anything else most high schoolers would never second guess being able to indulge in.
When she graduated high school, she moved to a small town in Kansas for a brief amount of time before returning to SoCal. Despite the challenges of her childhood, she still found herself feeling homesick; and on returning, she moved in with her biological aunt and attended college for a semester in Antelope Valley, CA.
Although it started out well, things quickly took a turn. “[My aunt] would put all the responsibilities on me because I was the most responsible… but after a while it became really toxic,” she said. After a falling out with her aunt, Meeka returned to her parents’ home, where it seemed like things had improved with time. However, when her parents found out she had gone out with a friend, they told her not to return home. This began the journey that ultimately led Meeka to StandUp for Kids. She spent most nights either sleeping in her car or couch surfing at friends’ homes, using whatever unemployment money she could collect to stay in Airbnbs. She felt angry and defeated at times, but never felt like begging to go back home — because in her mind, no one was reaching out to her, asking her to come back.
After some time, Meeka reached out to StandUp for Kids and began the journey to finding stability. She was primarily in contact with Denise, a staff member, who eventually helped her find the home she lives in now.
Meeka says she enjoys her roommates and their kindness, and plans to remain at the home she’s in now for at least another year. Down the road, she plans to either return to college to become a social worker or perhaps become self-employed. She sees herself having a family of her own, becoming financially stable and happy in her own safe space. Although she is still searching for her passions, with so much life ahead, she is on the track to success thanks to the help of StandUp for Kids. If you’d like to get involved and help youth like Meeka please email [email protected] today!