Hear from Justice Sun – Centering Youth, Advancing Justice 2020

Content Warning: This story contains brief mentions of abuse and sexual assault, and descriptions of self harm

“A Silver Lining”

By: Justice Sun

Four years ago, I was living with my legal guardians who were chronically abusing me and my two older siblings. They adopted us from foreign countries then by bringing us to the USA. My strength was running out. I had been reporting the abuse we were living daily to Michigan state departments since I was 8 years old. They failed consistently to protect us due to our parent’s positions of power, among other reasons.

We were just three of the many young people that fall through the cracks of the systems every day. As I often do, I wrote. Writing is a passion of mine. I dreamed that one day I would be somebody that does something actionable to make the system less broken. So, another young person did not have to experience the same pain and despair my siblings and I did. The seeds of why I am an Advocate were planted.

I entered the Child Welfare System under WA State Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) when I was a minor. Rosey Thurman, an attorney with TeamChild Spokane, took my case against all odds and obvious complex legal complications. TeamChild helped me save my life by filing a Dependency Petition as the sole petitioner while at the time WA state departments contested to join with the Dependency since my parents in their positions of power were influencing them per usual. During the painful yet successful 10-month litigation, Mrs. Thurman taught me much during the case and listened to me; because of Mrs. Thurman and TeamChild I found my passion for Law. Since the successful litigation of my Dependency Case in my favor, I have entered the WA State DCYF Extended Foster Care Program.

I am going to become an attorney. For now, I am an Expert Consultant Provider in Youth and Young Adult Areas. I am now waiting to earn my J.D. in law and earn my WA State Bar License to practice law to be the voice in court and positive influence on young people in need like TeamChild is for me. Therefore, I am an advocate. Further, since entering Washington State in 2017, I have experienced many more adversities: homelessness once as a youth and three times now as a young adult, the struggles and discrimination that come with being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, several rapes, etc.

This is not about me. This is about the young people and families of now, of yesterday, and of tomorrow. Since becoming an advocate, I have been passionate about engaging with state departments in advocating to improve the quality of services for children, youth, young adults, parents and families that depend on the system so that everyone is proactively and adequately served, protected, respected, and helped as they are needed per individual situation.

I do not like what happened; however; I can say that for living through the pain and despair, I am better equipped to help others who are experiencing abuse in all forms. That is my silver lining. There is always a silver lining – you’ll find it…if you look for it carefully and patiently. The people at TeamChild, especially Rosey Thurman, have supported me, continue to support me, and have helped set me on the path I am today. I share their mission because they showed me that someone cares with no ulterior agenda. These days we need more people like those who I have seen working for TeamChild and we definitely need agencies to use the model TeamChild has laid for serving young people. For me, TeamChild is a large part of my silver lining and I am sincerely and deeply grateful for their services, expertise, and care.

This is the poem I wrote four years ago:

Don’t Look Back

By: Justice Sun

As life hammers,

You down to the ground,

It feeling as though,

You are sitting in space,

Watching the world pass you by,

Day by day.

You only growing older,

By the second.

Your head spinning,

From one direction to the other.

You feeling all hope,

For you is gone.

Sitting playing with a knife,

Contemplating,

That ugly thought,

To end life,

That lays before you,

You stand on your two broken feet,

And throw that knife,

Out of bodily reach,

And in return,

Your dreams, 

Are in your reach,

You are who you may not want to be,

But,

Don’t look back,

For the old, you may be crawling,

Closer to the person,

Who is rising to the sky,

Becoming like a tower,

Running to the person,

With an ugly past,

But a star-bright future,

And that is you

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