When Kaari, Sanda and I walk into the Next Generation Center, the home of our current Bronx workshop, it's like walking into a house party. Hip hop and rap deejayed by kids from the center thumps just a little too loud. I keep thinking some adult is going to put the kabosh on this, but they don't seem phased.
Last year at a routine check-up, 15-year-old Raymond Henderson decided to tell the truth. When his doctor noticed bruises on his neck, Raymond admitted that his stepfather was abusing him. The Administration for Children's Services took Raymond and his sister Monica from their step-dad who’d raised them since their mother's death 13 years ago. Now they’re living with Ophelia, the home health attendant who cared for their mother as she was dying. Ophelia wants to give Raymond and Monica a permanent home. But faced with a decision that could shape his entire future, Raymond isn't sure. He worries that letting Ophelia adopt him would mean cutting ties with his old life and family.
If her strict, Panamanian mother would allow it, Jacuyra would hang out all the time on Franklin Avenue in her Brooklyn neighborhood--because that's where all the boys are. In the past, hanging out with boys has gotten Jacuyra into trouble. But as a 16-year-old who doesn't often think about the consequences of her actions, Jacuyra would love nothing more than to head back out to "The Ave", if only her mother would let her.