Janice's journey

This biography is made based on the diary of a young woman who lived in many years in Denmark before she went on a holiday at her birthmother’s county. Her values and morale is based on her upbringing in Denmark which some might consider offending. However in order to truly understand how she experienced her stay in the United States the cultural influences has to be considered a major contributor to her choices both before, under and after her stay.

Second the names of individual youth transport firms, wilderness programs and boarding schools are not mentioned. It is not a question about being for or against various companies offering emotional growth. It is strictly a story about how Janice as she has chosen to call herself experienced a number of incidents which left life changing marks on her adult life.

This biography is co-authored because Janice wanted to have her story published in both Danish and English.


18. The American Farm

Before breakfast I had been told that I should start at the boarding school on Monday. Today it was Thursday so they would take me to their farm, which they also used as temporary placement for teenagers so I could spend time with them. Joe had left shortly after I was caught, so he would be waiting for us at the farm.


It was a long drive in the car before we came to the family farm late that evening. The farm was near the village of Virgin not far from the boarding school, I had to attend. The school was outside Hurricane, but I was not allowed to see the school in advance.


The Farm consisted of two houses connected by a walk and then a barn. When we stopped got 4 kids came out from the house and threw themselves into the arms of the two women. Angela presented them to me. “This is our children: Mary, Lucy Ann, Augusta and small Brigham. Follow us." I followed them into one house. Joe sat in the kitchen and greeted me. We came down to a room down the hall, where there was an alarm panel next to the door itself. Chelsea entered a code and showed me into the room where there was a TV, a built-in shower and a bed. There was also a window, but it was not to open. Chelsea knocked on it and said "bulletproof". She removed all the restraints and showed me a towel and a pile of clothes on the bed I could change into and then she left the room.


I took a much-wanted shower and started to get dressed. It was mid-length shorts that went to the knees and a vest that covered the shoulders. Then there were the ankle socks and a plaid dress. I came to think that this actually was the same clothes as their children wore. I would obviously fit in. Chelsea came in and asked if the clothes were the right size. When I nodded, she asked me to turn me so that she could make sure that I looked decent enough to meet the standards of their family.


Then I was invited back into the kitchen. It was time for dinner. Because Joe had already been home for some time he was in charge of the cooking. Mary who looked as if she was 17 was also in the kitchen. Lucy Ann set the table while Augusta and the little boy ran around outside.


At the table the talk was mostly about where Mary had to go when she went out for missionary work in another country. It was apparently normal for the young people to do it before they married and had obligations.


After dinner Angela and Joe asked me to join them in the living room, while the rest cleaned the kitchen. I asked who the mother of the children was. Angela said that it was both of them. Joe and Angela had met many years ago, but they could not have children. Chelsea's husband had died few years earlier in a car crash. At the time she was Angela's colleague in the army. Her daughter Miriam who no longer lived at home lacked a parent when Mom was stationed oversea and so was a solution at hand. Technically, Joe was only married to Angela, but in practice they functioned as one big family.


"We are so happy and we see children as our joint project. We decided long ago to have to make a plan that Joe must follow so that no one feels ignored. That's why there are two houses, but also so we act as all other families. We cannot imagine living in a different way. "


I had one more question. I asked them why they had chosen to transport teenagers to programs when they were in the army. Angela was silent for a moment and they she got teary eyes. "It is Miriam. Last I heard from her she lived somewhere in California working in a restaurant. She is fine now, but we had some really tough years. She lost her father and she disappeared from home when she was 17 years. We looked for her for a year but were unable to locate her before she had her 18th birthday. We could not get her back despite the fact that she was homeless and staying with friends living in worn-out cars. Once she was also in jail. 4-5 years it took before she managed to turn her life around but her faith she has probably lost forever. "


She cleared her throat. Dealing with the past had affected her deeply. "We understood that we had failed her but more importantly the society lacked resources for parents like us. We decided to help others who may come into our situation. First we worked for another transport company that carried out interventions, but methods used at the company included use of pepper spray and handcuffs broke we do not like. They often leave scars. Moreover, he didn’t care whether the gender of the transporter was of the same sex as the teenager which should be transported. Would you dress yourself in front of a male stranger? We only transport girls. On rare and special missions we use Joe as a backup, but Joe is never alone with the girls. "


I was going to ask for more, but then the boy came into the living room. "Little Brigham. It is time to sleep? Follow me. "Joe turned the TV. He entered a code on the remote. "Yes - with today's TV in mind you have to control what the kids watch 100 percent."


We were watching the evening news when Chelsea entered the room. "Janice. It's time for you to sleep. Come with me. "I followed her down to my room. She showed me a call button on the inside of the room, which I would use if I was going to the toilet. It was kind of scary. They had actually built their own little prison cell in their house. In some ways it was annoying but on the other hand I did not have to sleep in restraints.


Next morning Chelsea woke me up at 6 o’clock in the morning. After breakfast we headed out in the field. It was hoeing potatoes old-school. There is a large farming industry in Denmark. While I have been living in cities most my life I was not unaware about how it was done on Danish farms and was certainly not a modern operation. It was a hard work. I could have sat down and flat out refused, but I could see that all the children put energy and joy in their work and although it was not in my interest to work in their field, I thought not that I would ruin something for the children. I must admit that I to this very date find it strange that even children can find joy in hard work. Maybe these children didn’t know better?


After lunch Chelsea told me that she should drive to the town and do some shopping. She gave me a kind of ankle bracelet on. It was associated with a small box which she had in her pocket. I went more than 10 yards away from her the bracelet would begin to sound like a car alarm. That way it was not necessary to make me wear all the restraints and as she said. "Everyone in town is almost in the same industry. There is not much to live on, so that escape is futile. Everyone will turn me in." We drove to a larger town called La Verkin. When we got to town we parked at a small center called Farmer's market. While we made our shopping’s Chelsea whispered to me. "Look how all the shop assistants are similar in terms of hairstyle and appearance. It is young people who are at the top level of a boarding school down the street. They have had the privilege to be allowed to work for minimum wage." It was right when I noticed it. They looked each other. Their smiles and their response pattern was as if they had been collected on the same assembly line.


When we had done our errands we took a detour home. She showed me around in La Verkin at bit. The largest boarding school had branches at no less than 3 places on the main street. She talked about that they had about 500 students alone at the school. On the way through the town Virgin as she pointed at a farm and told that it was a residence for girls. They worked a lot with horses. Almost directly opposite on the other side of the road there were some house bordered by a high white wooden fence. It was a kind of boot camp for boys. Some boys went and painted the fence. They were all shaved bald. It sounded like a tough place. Suddenly I understood why this area was so depended of the boarding school industry. These towns were almost like gigantic malls consisting of boarding schools of every kind.


We came home to the farm again. It was time for dinner. The next few days went by working in the field. There was also time for some ball games. Televisions and computer was something the kids had metered access and of course it was not possible for me to get access to the computer. After dinner the night before I was to report to the school they asked me if had made plans up for my life when I graduated. I told him that I just wanted to return to Denmark. For people belonging to my social class it was not supposed that I should become a student. I just wanted home and have a regular job in a shop and then be with John. I told them that it was my father who had custody and that I could return home to him right away if I could just get in contact with him. Chelsea was silent for a moment and then replied "You should probably not be so sure."


I was shocked: "What do you mean?"


"I talked to your mother about payment for your stay here on our farm. I thought that she had hired several transport companies in connection with your escape because she ordered us to watch specifically for you in California but as it turned out it was not the case. She made a second mortgage on her house in order to finance the wilderness program and the boarding school. She told me that she had exhausted all her earthly belongings to save you. The reason she knew we would find you in California was that she had received an email from your dad stating that you will be there. In fact before that she had also received an email from your father when you escaped from her house informing her that you had fled to Minneapolis. It tells me that your father must agree with your mom about your relationship with John being a bad idea. If it is true that he has custody and he would have called you home, why wouldn’t he have done something to make it happened?


"You're lying." I became upset.


"Calm down Janice. Let us not get all that cooked up over this. I can only inform you what your mother told me. That's what she said. If you want the words from your father's own mouth, you get the chance at the boarding school because family therapy is part of the school's treatment. Let's not talk further about it. "


I sat and drank the rest of my tea in silence. Heavy thoughts filled my head. Was I now all alone in the world? My father had my only ticket home or so I had believed until now. What was wrong with my relationship with John?


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