Two Different Stories, Both Missing Fathers

Humans of Venice High

Alicia Valenciana and Julissa Ventureño, News Editor, Photographer

Humans of Venice High is a series of photographs and personal histories, revealing the hidden emotions. Two Oarsman staffers went around school campus, asking random students if they would mind being interviewed regarding their personal stories.

Julissa Ventureno
Jaden talks about her mothers during the interview.

Jaden Corona:

“I have two mothers, which is my birth mother and then I have my stepmother. Both of them got divorced, so both of my fathers are out of the picture now. It started my freshman year, so throughout high school I’ve literally leaned on both my stepmom and mom for financial needs and emotional support.

“And they are my best friends. I live with my birth mother and every time I come home, we sit on the bed and we just talk about our entire day, from top to bottom. I share everything with her like as much as I would a best friend. I talk to her about boys,  I talk shit to her about girls, like you know… As you would.

“There were multiple divorces. The one that hurt me the most is between my birth mom and my step dad because I lived with them and we had this like picture-perfect family, which was me, my mom, my dad and my little brother. We lived in a small town and we went to school, we went to work, we had family dinners, we cooked every night, we went on trips on the weekends, we went to baseball games, soccer game.

“And after they realized they weren’t meant to be together after nine years, they divorced. It kind of like… it hurt because I had to relearn how to live separately and then within the same year, my step mom and my birth father, they divorced.

“It’s like all my family just separated and left me in the middle. I didn’t really know how to choose sides as a kid, so like I wasn’t close with anyone. I didn’t have anyone to talk to for a while and no one understands… kids go through divorces. The divorce rate is so high right now… but it was hard talking to kids that have been through divorces and saying that ‘Yeah I’ve been through a divorce and like two divorces in the same year!’ That’s like the equivalent of having a family torn apart because everyone was not talking to each other.

“My stepmom was independent. She was raised in a poor home and she did everything on her own. She raised seven of her siblings. She babysat. She didn’t get to go out much. She stayed in the library for most of her high school career and she built something for herself.

“And then she married him (my birth father). He like throughout the years stripped her of all this self esteem she built. He stripped her of everything. He cheated…That’s how they ended up divorcing. Although cheating is bad, the fact that he stripped her of everything and then there was another woman kind of made me see that I didn’t want to be raised by that type of man.

“I didn’t want to be raised by someone who puts themselves before others and doesn’t really care about the children. Not just me, but my siblings. I wasn’t always there because they lived two hours away. My sister would always call me and she would always be sad.

“I didn’t care how it affected me in a way… like yeah I’m hurt by the divorce and by him cheating on my stepmom, but the fact that it affected my sister… I know that I’m strong and I can deal with it, but my sister… she is too young to grasp the idea of what’s going on. So him hurting me and hurting my stepmom and hurting my siblings kind of put me in the position that if I take a step back away from him, maybe it would make him realize what he’s doing as a father… It’s been four years and he hasn’t realized what he’s doing, so…

“I guess I’ve pulled myself farther apart (from him) with each achievement I make, like with being accepted into college and my poetry slam competitions, my theater, everything… it’s kind of like a slap in the face to him. He tells my sister he’s proud of me and he wishes he could be in my life, but at the same time he’s never made the effort to be in my life.

“He texts me every now and then like hey how are you doing?’ but a text isn’t going to repair everything. And it just sucks that it has to be like this. If I didn’t separate myself from him, I don’t think I’d be where i am and be as successful as I see myself. I’ve reached all my goals I started in the beginning of high school.”

Julissa Ventureno
Ashley talks about her father during the interview.

Ashley Medrano:

“My dad’s dead. He died. I wasn’t born yet, but when I found out, I was really small so I couldn’t really comprehend. But then as I was getting older, I had a lot of questions about it. My mom doesn’t really like to talk about it. And me being so curious as I am, it’s like… I don’t know. It was just a lot.

“He was in a gang, like a really big gang, and then he was deported to El Salvador. He wasn’t really like allowed to go out because he had tattoos. And if you were to see him, people from rival gangs would see that he’s from that particular gang. He was one of the main people in the gang. You know, death… he knew that it could happen.

“Someone from the rival gang killed him. He wasn’t supposed to go out of the house but my mom really wanted to get out because she followed him to El Salvador without permission at the age of 20. And they shot him. He died in my mom’s arms. So that had a toll on my mom.

“I know my mom is just scared of talking about it and I know that it hurts her. I would never force her to talk to me because I know it was bad for her. Sometimes I’m really understanding about it but sometimes it’s just unfair to me because there’s a lot of things that I don’t know and I’ve never met anyone from his family. But because it’s my mom, I feel sympathy for what she went through and I just keep it to myself.

“When you know that you chose to have a child, like that was your choice… If you didn’t want a child, you shouldn’t have had unprotected sex. If you knew you were willing to do that, then you should have been responsible enough to take the initiative of not doing that… trying to do something about it so you could be there for me.

“Sometimes I get mad at him and I know I shouldn’t. The one word I could use to describe the situation is unfair. Especially when it’s his birthday or anniversary, I don’t usually think about it. Like I don’t talk about my dad to anybody at all. And when I do, I just start overthinking.”

What are your happiest moments?

“My stepdad came into my life when I was three years old and people don’t get lucky like that. You don’t need a dad, but that’s like your father figure… thats a thing like having a dad. He came into my life and he was willing to take me in and raise me. My stepdad has never treated me differently. So any moment that i just stop and realize ‘oh wow, that’s your dad.’ When I’m with him, I feel like those are my happiest moments.”