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Single mothers in the United States: how to survive and live

In the United States, mothers raising children alone are entitled to social and financial assistance. Moreover, this right applies in certain cases to immigrants who are only in the process of receiving a green card. The “Forum” collected stories of Russian-speaking women in the United States who raise children without the support of men, and found out what kind of help they can count on from the state.

Hope for America

33-year-old Nadezhda Kikot flew to the United States a year ago with 13-year-old son Valery. She was never married and raised her child alone throughout her life. She collapsed because she decided that in the homeland, in Ukraine, due to the current political situation there is nothing to do. Before leaving for America, Nadezhda thought about living in Europe and even went to explore European countries - she visited the 11 states in two months. She liked Sweden, but Nadezhda had no options for how to emigrate there.

When she returned to Ukraine, an old acquaintance called her and told her that she could go to the United States as a tourist. Without thinking twice, Nadezhda applied for and immediately received a visa. How to stay in America and how to legalize after the end of a six-month stay in the country, I decided to find out on the spot. For the first time, took all 4000 dollars.

Hope flew to Orlando, Florida. She searched for housing while still in Ukraine - on the classifieds website Craiglist. She found a room and even sent a pledge to her owner. However, after that, he simply evaporated with the money received. Find for the first time an apartment in the USA was helped by the same old acquaintance from Ukraine: he suggested Nadezhda to live with his girlfriend - an American Hazel. The women became friends, and Nadia rented a room for six months.

“My son and I moved a lot in Ukraine and are not afraid of difficulties. Any experience, even unpleasant, is not a reason to break our plans, ”Hope says optimistically.


Hope believes that travel is the best way to know life. Photos from the personal archive

As for her work in America, Nadia was not very worried - for more than 10 for years she was a hairdresser and had her own beauty salon in Cherkasy. In Orlando I tried to work as a waitress in a bar, but could not stand it for a long time. He says the leadership treated her like a third-rate man. Later she took up what she knew well - haircut and dyeing.

“In the US, I wanted to learn new techniques and technologies in the art of hairdressing, but I was faced with the fact that American masters do not know how to work at all. It upset me. While I was working and working without permission, accepting Russian-speaking clients at home, but I plan to receive a license in this area. I applied for political asylum five months after my arrival, so I expect a work permit and a social security number from day to day. From experience, I can say that if you want to work and earn money in the US, you can. Everything else is an excuse, ”admits Hope.

Son of Hope in America is like. There were no difficulties with adaptation. Despite the fact that Nadia had only a tourist visa, she calmly arranged the child to the nearest school. Nadezhda submitted to the administration only a certificate of vaccinations, a birth certificate for the child and two paper confirmations of her residential address, since each school is assigned to a specific district. Nadezhda also wrote an application for the child to pick up a bus to school. Necessary textbooks Valery issued for free.

“Both I and my son like schools in the USA. American teachers motivate children to learn, praise them, and do not oppress for the slightest offense, as Ukrainian teachers do. My son is diligent, an excellent student, if something is not clear to him, he approaches the teacher and asks. At first he had difficulty understanding the English language, but now he was already involved. The only problem that plagued him in American schools was the poor attitude on the part of some classmates. Because of this, we changed schools in Orlando several times, ”the single mother shares with the Forum.

Cruel romance

35-year-old Marina (asked not to give her last name) came from Russia to Los Angeles with her 15-year-old son on a bridal visa and married an American. However, the woman survived only six months of marriage with her husband - a month after the wedding, he began to get drunk and raise a hand to her. At first, she hoped that her husband would change, but at some point she was tired of all this, and she began to look for help on the Internet. Came to the rescue hotline for the protection of women and children - a Russian-speaking specialist spoke with Marina and told what to do. Three days later, she packed up and ran off with her son to a shelter for victims of domestic violence. There they spent a month under the rehabilitation program.

“While we were living together, my husband occasionally mocked me and in six months he didn’t do a single document with our son. He kept us on a short leash, wanted to create the impression that without him we couldn’t take a step. It's good that I had the courage to finish this story and call the hotline, ”says the injured woman.

Shelter workers help Marina sue for domestic violence. The former husband and his lawyer searched for Marina, however, the administration of the shelters carefully hides information about their guests. To prevent a person from being found by satellite, mobile phones and any electronic devices are collected from all new arrivals. If necessary, the shelter administration provides a special telephone for victims of violence.

“We divorced a whole year. Under the program for the protection of victims of domestic violence and with the help of the Immigration Center for Women and Children, we received a green card almost 2,5 years after the arrival. The procedure lasted a long time, because there were many women in the shelter who were in the same situation as me. All the procedures for obtaining a green card cost me 1000 dollars. As other affected girls told me, immigration lawyers usually require a tidy sum for helping in such cases, and it’s not a fact that they can help you, ”says Marina.

Read more about all the nuances of American divorce, alimony, division of property and custody of children in this material.

Immigration center Marina gave confirmation that she is already at the stage of registration of a residence permit. With him she went to social service and applied for welfare. It included food stamps in the amount of 350 dollars and 550 dollars in cash for two. Marina believes that this is a good help for moms with children who are not yet 18 years old.

A single mother left the shelter after a month of stay there. Since at that time she did not have a work permit, she was unable to apply for a program for partial or full payment for housing. In Los Angeles, they were sheltered by a friend. Marina at that time tried to earn in all possible ways: she looked after an elderly woman, cleaned the houses, acted in restaurants.

The woman with whom Marina lived introduced her to a Russian émigré who, as a volunteer, helped protect the rights of women and children. He went with Marina to the courts and lawyers, helped to fill out documents, visited with her the Immigration Center for Women and Children and the social services office.

“My advice to all girls who are considering the option of dating through the Internet and moving to the United States on a bride visa - be very careful! Among men who meet in social networks, there are real inadequate. Study all the information about the place where you are going to go. Small cities with lonely standing houses delete from your list. The risk of running into an abnormal American is higher there than elsewhere, ”advises Marina.

She recalls that, together with the visa of the bride, women are given a special a brochurewhere it is stated how to behave in case of domestic violence. Also there is telephone hotlines and social services for victims of violence.

“If the immigration service recognizes a woman’s case of domestic violence, no one will take her visa,” says a single mother.

Immigration lawyer Julia Greenberg confirms: US law is always on the side of the victim, regardless of her immigration status.

"The authorities are well aware of the fact that many immigrants, due to their immigration dependency, are subjected to moral or physical violence by a violent spouse who is a US citizen or a green card holder. They also know about the legal vulnerability of migrants due to the lack of immigration status - we are talking about cases where the injured person is in the same illegal situation as the abuser. US immigration and criminal law protects the victim in all of the above cases, ”the lawyer says.

Yuliya Greenberg explains: a wife who has suffered from the violence of an American husband or a green card holder, can get his green card without his presence or participation. Moreover, the victim does not even have to prove the fact of violence in law enforcement or criminal court. It is enough to tell everything to the immigration service. In addition, the abuser does not have any access to this information.

It is important to remember that violence is not only when directly beaten. In the US, there are six types of violence:

  • physical (causing bodily harm, harm to children);
  • emotional (insults, blackmail, threats, manipulations);
  • sexual (coercion to sexual acts by force, blackmail or threats);
  • economic (deprivation of a partner of financial freedom, concealment of income);
  • reproductive (refusal to use contraceptives or, on the contrary, coercion to use, coerce to abortion or pregnancy, etc.);
  • e (Internet surveillance, humiliation and humiliation on social networks; sending images or messages with offensive content).

In any of these cases, the victim may contact the hotline numbers: 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

Now the life of Marina and her son is getting better. A woman is going to go to college. The state will pay her tuition, and the labor exchange, where she turned, will takeand paying for textbooks, office, and gasoline spent on the road to college. Marina and her child also receive free medical insurance, which also covers the services of a psychologist.

Marina believes that raising children is better in the USA than in any other country in the world. The main thing is that the child learns well and has a purpose in life.

“There are extracurricular programs that offer children different hobby groups. My son, for example, is in a rock band, and he has already been taught to play bass and drums. Together with the group they perform in the Hard Rock Cafe. Do children in Russia have the opportunity to perform in the most famous institution for free? In the US, everything is done for children, so long as they develop and are not lazy, ”says Marina.

The path to independence

Olga Khalkina arrived in the United States on a study visa in 2001, and after a while she married a Chinese-American. Lived in Denver, Colorado. During the marriage, Olga gave birth to four children. Divorced because, says Olga, that her husband did not support her in anything, did not let her earn money, insisting that Olga should be only a housewife and mother.

“I suffered for a long time, but in the end I spat and started my own business - making Mamaloni festive children's clothes, so that at least I can earn children to pay for gymnastics, swimming and dancing. The husband believed that such activities are a waste of time and money. As soon as the business began to bring in normal money, I filed for divorce, ”confessed Olga.

While the divorce process lasted, the woman received food and insurance cards for free. As soon as the process ended and her income increased, the assistance from the state ceased.

“My children are between two and seven years old. Due to the fact that I have my own business and I work from home, it is possible to combine work and motherhood. I never hoped for the help of the state and did not advise anyone. For example, for a kindergarten for two children I cry, like everyone else - 1000 $ per month for each, ”says the mother of four children.


Olga likes independent life in the USA. Photos from the personal archive

After the divorce, Olga shares with her husband the costs of kindergarten and all the additional classes of children. She assures that after eight years of marriage only now she felt free and happy. In the US, Olga likes everything except the policies of Barack Obama, the Democrats, and expensive medicine.

“In America, you have to work a lot. If you do not like to work - this country is not for you. I don’t like Obama’s policy because the current laws and the abundance of social programs allow a large number of lazy people to sit on the neck of the state. Because of this, taxes are growing, and such hard workers like me are forced to pay them, because someone else has to pay for other people's health insurance and free food stamps. There are cases when these programs are really necessary, as I had during a divorce, but mostly their advantages are lazy Americans who pretend to be incapacitated. There are women whose job is only to give birth outside of marriage and constantly “sit” on benefits. I do not support this! ”- Olga shares with the“ Forum ”.

Help programs for women in the USA

12 million - just as many single-parent families, according to The Census Bureau for 2013 a year, lives in the USA, and 80% of them are families that care for single mothers. For those who do not work or earn very little, there are many social programs.

Here are the most common ones:

1. Special supplemental nutrition program for women, babies and children (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC))

Special program for low-income pregnant or lactating women, babies and children under five years of age. Program participants are entitled to receive free of charge in chain stores dairy products, fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, as well as all those products that are on their individual list.

  1. American Concession Purchase Program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP))

This program, also known as the program of food stamps (food stamps), is designed for people who have a very low income or do not work at all.

  1. Child Care Assistance Program (Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP))

This program is designed for working parents, people with low income or for parents who are in search of work. Families with children up to 13 years can participate in the program (up to 19 years if the child is disabled or has special needs). The project is not free, but works in the format of additional payments: a part of the amount is paid by the program, and a part by the family. The amount of surcharge depends on each specific case.

4. Program children's health insurance (Children's Health Insurance Program (СHIP))

The program is designed for children under the age of 19, whose parents have an income higher than that required to participate in the Medicaid program, but cannot afford normal insurance for children. In some states, this insurance applies to parents and pregnant women. CHIP fully or partially covers all doctor visits, vaccinations, and dentist services.

  1. Medicaid (Medicaid)

The US Government Medical Assistance Program for Persons with an Income Below the Official Poverty Line. The benefits of the program are usually used by pregnant women who are unable to pay for the management of pregnancy and childbirth.

See also:

Everything you need to know about American divorce

10 about honest ways to stay in the USA

We live in the USA: how to find the first job

How to rent a house in America

What to carry to the bank and how to make a certificate in the United States

children divorce family immigration violence in family immigration to the USA Our people Educational program Editor's Choice

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