Friday, April 6, 2012

Dear Ashley: Did You Enjoy Your Own Autobiography?

As for major questions about her life, I don’t really have any. I do have a few based on smaller detail of her life. For instance;

Did you ever find your friend Mandy?

If you did, how is she doing? Did living with the Mosses have a greater affect on her than on you?

Have you ever gone back to see any of your old foster parents?

How is your brother Luke doing? Has his behavior become more controlled?

How is your relationship with your biological mother and your half-sister?

Did you ever find your biological father?

            In my opinion, I would suggest this book to anyone who like to get emotional while they’re reading, or to anyone who enjoys stories of people becoming a success from nothing; a “Rags to Riches” sort of thing. If you enjoy easy reading, this is also the book for you. Everything is fairly straight forward and the structure of the book is very basic. Personally, I did not like to simplicity of it, which, in my opinion, would be a reason not to read. The reading can get a tad dull. While everything she’s written does serve a purpose, some things just aren’t interesting at all. Of course, you can’t expect everything to grab you and keep you entertained.

How Can You Ignore a Crying Child?

            While she hasn’t made any massive dents in society (yet), I feel that she will begin to make more of an impact in the coming years. Today, Ashley goes on tour around the country speaking to various organizations and governments about the flaws in our nation’s foster care and adoption system, and how she feels those flaws should be corrected.
           
While she hasn’t made a large impact on society, she has made a huge impact on me. While I was reading about some of the horrible things she had to witness in some of her foster home and how ruthless her abuser was, I started to consider ways I could help other children that are in her situation. Now, I’ve always been aware of the neglect and abuse that many children in this country receive, but actually reading about one person’s case in such detail made it much more real to me. This isn’t some far away issue; there are children who need help getting out of their home, whether in the foster care system or not, and need a way to better their lives.
            Besides the abuse, another thing that some what inspired me to try to help these children is just how stupid some of these social workers are. When she was younger, Ashley complained at least once to her social worker at the time Mr. Ferris about the conditions she was living in and how her belongings had been stolen by her foster mother, Mrs. Moss. Instead of listening to what she was saying, he brushed off her concern and fear and told her to stop trying to make the Mosses look bad. It just make my blood boil thinking about anybody can ignore a clearly frightened and worried child’s cry for help.

Wow, Confidence Really IS Key

            One of her traits that I both admire and find quite astonishing is her incredible confidence. We don’t see many examples of her being confident in her early life, but as she grows older and enters middle and high school, we see that she is very outgoing. She wrote about how she would always enter competitions and always expected to come out the winner. One particular instance I remember was when she mentioned her performance in a talent show where she acted out a famous scene from the show I Love Lucy. She went up on stage and gave her rendition of the scene proudly, not even showing a hint of nervousness. She also gave many acceptance speeches while in high school, and with the exception of the first one, she walked on stage and gave her presentation clearly and professionally. I can only wish to have that ability to go up in front of a crowd and act or speak or to do anything without being doubtful or shy.

            Considering her amazingly high amount of confidence, I would think that she could be a politician. Not only that, but she also knows exactly what she wants from a situation, and she will do almost anything to make a goal of hers a reality. Basically, she’d be a campaigning machine, going from one city to the next, maybe even one state to the next, to give one of her well-planned speeches, and letting the masses know that she won’t back down in her promises and ideals.

Friday, March 30, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons...

One instance that I remember in this book was during the interrogation of Mr. and Mrs. Moss. While that doesn’t sound like a time where anything humorous would take place, Ashley recalled one detail that she and her new adoptive family found quite entertaining.

While Mrs. Moss was being questioned, Ashley watch and listened to her intently, beginning to become furious with the lies she was telling to the investigator. From beside her, she heard what sounded like a cough coming from Mrs. Courter, but she ignored it. A moment later, Mr. Courter nudged her shoulder and motioned for Ashley to turn around. Mr. Moss had fallen asleep and his dentures were falling out of his mouth. That “cough” that she had heard was Mrs. Courter stifling a giggle, and she almost stated laughing as well.

About an hour later, after having to hear more of Mrs. Moss’s stories, she left the station feeling exhausted and anxious. Mrs. Courter became worried and told her husband that they should not have let her go through with this (the investigation). In response, Mr. Courter apologized and asked Ashley if she was feeling alright. She told him that she was feeling fine, and that going through the interrogation process was worth it just to see Mr. Moss’s teeth fall out.

To me, that just shows how she can make light of a bad situation. If this had taken place when she was younger, Ashley would probably left the station crying and stressed because that woman continued to hurt her even when she wasn’t legally in her care. But instead, she’s grown and understands that no matter what, that hateful woman will continue to lie for the rest of her life, so she may as well take the good from the bad.

Cinderella Dressed in Yella...

In the beginning, I was having quite a bit of difficulty choosing a different piece of text or artwork that I could connect to this book, but I’ve finally made a small connection, as simple as it may seem. To me, Ashley’s story reminds me of the story of Cinderella, at least in the most basic sense. While there are many variations of the classic fairy tale, from what I’ve gathered, they all revolve around a young girl whose being mistreated by her guardian(s).

You could also compare the ball (festival, party, holiday, depending on the variation) to the day that Ashley met her adoptive parents for the first time. On the day that they were to first meet, Ashley was taken to the park by Ms. Sandnes, a counselor at the Children’s Home, who Ashley could barley stand to be without (Fairy Godmother). Ashley and her soon-to-be parents (her “Prince” so to say) sat down and began to discuss her interests and how she does in school. After getting to know each other a little bit more, the four decided to plan a day where Ashley could go over to their house and have dinner and explore the grounds. On that day, she excitedly went to the Courters’ house and saw her new room and helped prepare dinner (the “Ball“). At the end of the day, no matter how much she wanted to stay and explore more of her new house, Ashley had to leave, and she really didn’t know if she would ever comeback (the clock strikes twelve). Eventually, after the Courters got to know Ashley more, and vice versa, they eventually adopted her, and took her away from her hectic life of not knowing where she would be next (Cinderella marrying her Prince).

The fact that these two people were also successes by the end of the book could be compared. Of course, Ashley’s success was not only being adopted, but going on to pursue her intellectual endeavors and graduating college, while Cinderella’s involved leaving her terrible home and marrying the person she truly loves.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How Can You be Motivated by Someone You Do Not Like?

I know the quote we have to choose should be from our subject, but I found one in my autobiography that I feel really sums up Ashley’s outlook on life. It was spoken by Michael Piraino, the CEO of CASA, the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association. “It only takes one caring person.” (Rhodes-Courter 229). I really think that she took those words to heart, considering that now that she’s older, she’s become a notable advocate for the reform of the children’s foster care system. She seems to feel that if those kids feel loved and cared for, they might have a better outlook on life, and become positive, productive people.

I really don’t think there is too much to analyze in this quote. From the context this was found in, this quote seems to serve two purposes; to give Ashley a reason for her recent adoption (at the time), and to show her that these children’s advocates programs, which she had major doubts in, could be useful tools in keeping those in foster care safe and that they could offer incredibly caring people to watch over each individual child. At the time, I don’t think this quote had too much of an affect on her trust in these programs, as they, in her opinion, served to protect the adoption agencies, not the children.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Road to Success

To me, this statement basically says when you give a task your all, you can achieve anything. Later in my subject’s life, she definitely begins to do everything above and beyond. As I discussed in a previous entry, Ashley would get involved in anything thing that she thought she could do well and enjoy doing. She excelled in athletics and in public speaking, which has come in handy now that she tours around the country as a public speaker bringing awareness to issues with foster children and their care. She also did incredibly well in her academics; she was a gifted writer, she made excellent grades, and she always completed her assignments on time and with great success. Of course, this could not have been achieved without a desire to dominate any field that she entered.

I believe that she followed a similar outlook on life because she felt she had to. As a young child, when things were going badly, she never looked for the positive, and she always moped and complained about them, as you would expect a child to do. She must have realized that if she wanted some aspects of her life to turn for the better, she had to put forth the maximum amount of effort to do everything to she attempted as close to perfectly as she could. Of course, this need to be the best at everything also has roots in the lack of attention she received at a young age, so she need to be recognized for as many events possible to gain that lost love and care, but this may be better discussed in more detail in another blog post.