Beyond Emancipation


anastasia Anastasia has an undeniable way with words, and it didn’t take long for others to recognize her talents. In high school, she won poetry contest, and published her own anthology at 16. She also landed an internship with New American Media, who published more of her work. These would be impressive achievements for any youth, but for Anastasia they’re all the sweeter given the challenges she’s faced.

Anastasia entered the foster system when she was 14. For a while, she stayed in a group home, where she had to learn fast to defend herself against very real threats of violence. Later, she was placed in four foster homes, but that wasn’t ideal either. In one, Anastasia got in trouble and ended up in juvenile hall for six months.

anastasia_photostrip Much to her own surprise, she found her stay at the hall a positive experience. She says her probation officer was particularly supportive and inspiring. “She would tell me, ‘You were meant for something.’” When her sentence was near its end, Anastasia requested to stay there rather than go to another group home. The judge denied her request, saying Anastasia was just too smart and savvy to be holed up in detention.

Instead, Anastasia moved back in with her mother. Returning to school, Anastasia initially struggled, but quickly found her drive to succeed. Once she applied herself, she aced the CAHSEE exit exam, and graduated a year early. It was during this time that she started writing.

Anastasia, by now a single mom, was referred to B:E by a co-worker at New American Media. She found a real support person in Transition Specialist Supervisor Erica Bell. “I just feel like Erica has opened up a new world for me. She really believes in me. I feel like I’m blessed.”

Anastasia is now 21 and has four children, including a set of twins. “It’s kinda been a struggle, but I feel like all my kids have been a blessing.” She recently moved into a new apartment, and she’s a Fellow with the Youth Advocate Program, which provides a foster youth perspective to decision makers in Alameda County. She’s clear that she’s not going to let anything hold her back. She says: “I’m just aching to succeed.”