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
Nadezhda Kikot, 33, flew to the United States a year ago with her 13-year-old son Valery. I have never been married and raised a child all my life alone. I fell through because I decided that there was nothing to do at home, in Ukraine, due to the current political situation. Before leaving for America, Nadezhda thought about life in Europe and even went to explore European countries - in two months she visited 11 countries. She liked Sweden, but Nadezhda had no options on 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. I was looking for housing while still in Ukraine - on the classifieds website Craiglist... I found a room and even sent a deposit to its owner. However, after that, he simply disappeared with the money he received. For the first time, the same old acquaintance from Ukraine helped to find an apartment in the United States: he invited Nadezhda to live with his girlfriend, an American woman, Hazel. The women became friends, and Nadia rented a room from her for six months.
“My son and I have moved to Ukraine a lot and are not afraid of difficulties. Any experience, even an unpleasant one, is not a reason to break your plans, ”Nadezhda says optimistically.
Nadia was not very worried about working in America - for more than 10 years she was a hairdresser and had her own beauty salon in Cherkassy. In Orlando I tried to work as a waitress in a bar, but could not stand it for a long time. She says the leadership treated her like a third-rate person. Later she took up what she was good at - cutting and painting.
“In the USA, I wanted to learn new techniques and technologies in hairdressing, but I was faced with the fact that American masters do not know how to work at all. It upset me. So far I have been working and working without permission, accepting Russian-speaking clients at home, but I plan to obtain a license in this area. I applied for political asylum five months after my arrival, so I expect a work permit and social security number from day to day. From experience I can say that if you want to work and earn money in the USA, you can. All the rest are excuses, ”Nadezhda admits.
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 my son and I like schools in the USA. American teachers motivate children to learn, praise them, and do not oppress them for the slightest offenses, as Ukrainian teachers do. My son is diligent, an excellent student, if he does not understand something, he approaches the teacher and asks. At first, he had difficulties understanding English, but now he is already involved. The only problem that plagued him in American schools was the bad attitude of some of his classmates. Because of this, we changed schools in Orlando several times, ”the single mother shares with the Forum.
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 bride's visa and married an American. However, the woman survived only six months of living together with her husband - a month after the wedding, he began to get drunk and raise his hand to her. At first she hoped that her husband would change, but at some point she got 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 to Marina and told what to do. Three days later, she packed her things and fled with her son to a home for victims of domestic violence. There they spent a month on a rehabilitation program.
“While we lived together, my husband periodically scoffed at me and for six months did not give me and my son a single document. He kept us on a short leash, wanted to create the impression that without him we could not even 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 got divorced for 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 our arrival. The procedure took a long time, because there were many women in the shelter who were in the same situation as me. All procedures for obtaining a green card cost me 1000 dollars. As other affected girls told me, immigration lawyers usually demand a tidy sum for help in such cases, and it is not a fact that they will be able to help you, ”says Marina.
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 dating online and moving to the United States on a bride visa is to be very careful! Among men who meet on social networks, there are real inadequacies. Study all the information about the place where you are going to go. Cross small towns with lonely houses off 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 as domestic violence, no one will take her visa,” says the 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 dependence, are subjected to mental or physical abuse by a violent spouse who is a US citizen or a green card holder. They also know about the legal insecurity of migrants due to the lack of immigration status - we are talking about cases when the victim is in the same illegal situation as the rapist. US immigration and criminal law protects the victim in all of the above cases, ”says the lawyer.
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 about being hit directly. 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 out-of-school programs that offer children different hobby groups. My son, for example, is in a rock band and has already been taught to play bass and drums. Together with the band, they perform at the Hard Rock Cafe. Do children in Russia have the opportunity to perform in the most famous institution for free? In the USA, 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 endured for a long time, but in the end I spat and started my own business - sewing Mamaloni festive children's clothing, in order to earn money for children to pay for gymnastics, swimming and dancing. The husband believed that such activities were a waste of time and money. As soon as the business started bringing in normal money, I filed for divorce, ”Olga confesses.
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 from two to 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 do not advise anyone. For example, I pay for a kindergarten for two children, like everyone else - $ 1000 per month for each, ”says a mother of four children.
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 hard. If you don't like to work, this country is not for you. I don't like Obama's policy precisely 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 hard workers like me are forced to pay them, because someone else has to pay for other people's health insurance and stamps for free meals. There are times when these programs are really necessary, as I had at the time of my divorce, but most of their benefits are enjoyed by lazy Americans who pretend to be incapacitated. There are women whose job is only to give birth out of wedlock and constantly “sit” on benefits. I don’t support it! ” - 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.
- 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.
- Child Care Assistance Program (Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP))
This program is for working parents, low-income people or parents looking for work. Families with children under 13 years of age (up to 19 years old if the child is disabled or has special needs) can participate in the program. The project is not free, but works in the format of an additional payment: part of the amount is paid by the program, part - by the family. The amount of the copayment depends on each specific case.
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.
- 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.
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