Thursday, August 19, 2010
Being A Foster Child, Being Any child......
It had rained all day and I was restless, pacing back and forth and going from room to room. I was wondering why if foster parents were needed so badly why we had not been called for a placement.
The ringing phone interrupted my thoughts. A social worker was calling because they needed a home right away for two school age children. She realized we said we would only take one child to begin our journey into foster care but this was a brother and sister and since they would be in school all day would I please take both. I said how soon and she said they would be on their way soon and they were hungry. I got busy fixing sandwiches and soon they arrived. Imagine my surprise when there were three children ages 8, 4 and 18 months with the social worker at my door. She shrugged and said she had only passed on the information that had been given to her, I didn’t mind, did I? I had a dozen thoughts and none of them were about how capable I was but I looked into those three faces and I could not say no.
We had many experiences over the next few months with these children and I want to share a couple with you as we think of kids going back to school and remember our own long ago school days.
These young children were so hungry (they gulped their milk and couldn’t believe they were offered seconds); they were so dirty, they had never had a tub bath. The oldest girl explained to me that their mother had always thrown them a wet rag and told them to wash off. They had dirt ingrained into their skin. They screamed when they heard the bathtub water running because they had never heard such a sound. It took a couple months of daily baths to get them to delight in the water and to finally be “clean”.
The memory that tugs the most at my heart though would be Norma Jean. She was the oldest, the eight year old daughter. She was named after Marilyn Monroe’s real name. She had blonde, bouncy curls and knew how to work with the children and the house way beyond her young years. She helped me soothe the children, quiet them during the screams of bath time and rock them when they cried the deepest soul’s cries wanting to go home (yes, they were homesick even for poverty and pain). When it came time for her to return to school in the fall the state issued me a check for fifty dollars to buy shoes and clothing and anything she might need for school. God touched that money and multiplied it many times over. She was thrilled with the brand new outfits (no hand-me-downs she explained from neighbors), new shoes and new hair bows. She hugged me so tight that first morning as she got ready to walk to her first day at a new school and she whispered in my ear, “I love you, no one will make fun of me at school this year!”
Do you remember how cruel kids can be to one another? Do you know a child that needs to know someone cares about them? Of course you do, because rich or poor every child (and every adult) needs that love. Don’t we?