While writing yesterday’s blog, I dug out some of the old records that I kept from Foster Care. It was so interesting to me. And frankly, I wish that there would be a child out there that would see their name here (even though it is only a first name) and recognize themselves and contact me.
The thing that was hardest for me about moving to Delaware was that I had to give up one of my dearest, secret dreams. You see, I always dreamed that I would open the door of that little house on the hill someday and there would be one of our kids — that finally found their way back home.
The house has been sold, more than once. I don’t know the owners, and would never expect anyone to try to respond positively to a stranger on the front steps . . . or that they would make any effort to help. So, as I processed leaving Plain City, Ohio, and life as we had known it ever since our marriage, I grieved the loss of many, many things, but the thing that tugged the most was giving up that dream and believing that God’s eyes saw where mine could not, His hands would reach where ours could not, and He would watching over the little ones.
“I still believe, Lord Jesus! I still believe!”
Joseph: Born on April 3, 1975. Placed with us on December 19, 1975. Left our home on August 29, 1977 Adopted. Last heard from him when he was 11. He was doing well then. We do not know where he is. I think of him so often, and wonder whether he has found his way. When we heard from him when he was 11, his adoptive mother told me over the phone, “Joey is just different. He went to camp this year, and he says he gave himself to God. He’s just different!” She couldn’t see me, but I was pumping my fist in the air and quietly shouting in my heart, “YES, Lord Jesus, YES!!!”
Callena: Born on July 23, 1973. Placed with us on May 12, 1976. Left our home on February 27, 1978. Adopted. Disastrous life. Last heard from her about five years ago. We do not know where she is.
Shon: Born on January 13, 1975. Placed with us on August 9, 1977. Left our home on August 1, 1978, for another, more specialized foster home. Eventually, Shonnie ended up in residential care. We don’t know where he is. Today, we realize that Shonnie was autistic. Back then, we didn’t know what to do, how to cope with or how to handle the screaming, meltdowns, and impulsive behaviors. Ah, Shonnie. I wonder where you are today. I still wish that we could have helped you.
Regina: Born on April 8, 1973, she was placed with our family on March 1, 1978, when her foster family, that desperately wanted to adopt her, had to move out of state to find work for the father in the family. She was with us until August 18, 1978, when her foster family was established enough for her to be returned to them, and Certain Man and I were permitted to take her to her new life. We don’t know what happened to this beautiful little girl.
Thompson: Born on December 10, 1968. Placed with our family in the middle of the night on April 29, 1978. He was a runaway, a troubled little boy, and had seen far too much for his nine years.. He lived with us until March 23, 1979, when he returned to his mother in a bad neighborhood in downtown Columbus. The last I heard, he was in a correctional facility for youth. We have no idea where he is today.
Raynard: Born on March 21, 1978, he was placed with our family on May 31, of the same year, when he was only 11 weeks old. We had Raynie until his second birthday, when he was placed for adoption. We don’t know where he is. We have honestly never heard anything directly from him since the day he left. Our baby. Sometimes I still weep.
Kimmy: Born on August 26, 1976, placed with us on September 1, 1978. Moved to another foster home on March 31, 1979, when when we were surprised by a pregnancy (that was Deborah). We had five foster children at the time, and three of them were under three. The agency we worked for decided to downsize our home. Kimmy went to another wonderful foster home. About that time, Tommy was ready to go home, and on April 4, 1979, we adopted Christina. In less than a month we went from five foster children to having two foster and one of our own. And, no, we don’t know where Kimmy is or what happened to her.
Anna: Born on May 29, 1969, she was placed with our family on September 22, 1978. Anna was actually Kimmy’s aunt, one of a family of sixteen. She was with us until February 1, 1980, when she was placed for adoption with a brother who was close to her age. She wanted to change her name, something her new family was amenable to, and we don’t know where she is or what has happened to her.
Blandon: Born February 10, 1976. (I just realized that he turned 37 yesterday!) He was placed with our family on April 18, 1980, and was with us until May 17, 1981. When he came to us, they told us that he had been abused by his mother and one time she pulled his hair out in chunks. There were days when I had great sympathy for her. Not that I would have torn his hair out in chunks, but I was certainly tempted to pull out MINE! Blandon had a father that was pretty involved with him, and I cannot remember if he went to his Daddy, or if he went to another foster home. We were closing our foster home when Blandon left, and some of those things are fuzzy in my mind.
David: Born February 18, 1979, he was placed with our family on July 22, 1980. His young mother, also a foster child, loved her little boy fiercely, and worked hard to establish herself so that she could take him when she turned 18, and was emancipated. She was never anything but a good mother, relating kindly and consistently with her little guy, and I had high hopes for her. What niggled at the back of my comfort level were the ugly scars that she carried from being beaten with an extension cord before being taken from her natural home as a young child. She was able to gain custody of David on June 22, 1981, and we have never seen or heard from him since.
Zion: (or Ziggy, as we affectionately called him) was born on August 26, 1972. He was placed with our family on August 29, 1980 and only spend three and a half months with us. As I recall, he was returned to his mother on December 12, 1980, but I understand it was short-lived. He was placed for adoption in the same home as Regina, but I think the adoption failed. We don’t know what happened after that, and we don’t know where he is today.
Of the “long-termers” there were four (beside Christina) that we actively pursued adopting. The reasons for “no” were varied and sometimes complicated. Sometimes it became our decision, sometimes it was Franklin County Children’s Services decision. In one of the more memorable cases (Raynard), we agonized and prayed and plead with God, and then finally decided that it was in his best interest to be adopted into another family. The case manager came out to find out our decision, and I remember her sitting on the couch, while Certain Man, home from work, sat on one recliner, and I sat on the armchair. She sat there, almost defensively, as I remember, her books on her lap, her long legs crossed, her face a guarded study. I had asked Daniel to stay home that day, because I thought that I could not say that our decision had been to give Raynard up. Daniel was as sad as I was, but at least he wasn’t sitting there sobbing. “We’ve thought and thought,” he said softly and deliberately, “and we love Raynie so much. And because we love him so much, we really do want what is best for him.” His voice faltered, and I remember him looking down at his hands, miserable and struggling to keep control. And then, I remember him saying, almost so softly that I couldn’t hear him, “and we’ve decided to let him go.”
I remember sobbing and sobbing, just almost unable to accept that this beautiful little boy, almost two, whom we had loved since he was eleven weeks old, was going to leave us. We had made long, long lists with pros and cons, and I remember telling someone, “Everything is on the side that we should let him go except the “We love him so much’ and when we really think about it, that goes on the side that says we should probably let him go!” I still thought that my heart was going to break, and I wondered how this classy, black casemanager would respond. What would she think of us? What would she say?
But then something happened the reminded me once again that God never overlooks our pain, that He leads in ways to prepare our hearts for His will for us.
Rhonda, the adoption casemanager, suddenly sat up and snapped her big notebook shut with an unreadable look on her face. She looked at us, compassionately, but also almost with disbelief, and then she said, “You two cannot imagine how glad I am that you came to this decision on your own. We had a meeting yesterday and we decided that we would not allow you to adopt Raynard.”
I can almost hear the general indignant outcry here, but there were rules at FCCS at that time that we had agreed to when we came into the Foster Care Program. We had signed papers saying that we agreed to follow/support these rules and that we could not circumvent the authority of the agency, particularly when it came to the placement and removal of a foster child. One of the more strictly adhered to policies said that, while we could request adoption of a child that had been in our care, the agency could rule (and usually did rule!) that foster parents were not given first priority on any child that was under two (no matter how long the child had been in the home). And while they would consider foster parent adoption for children over two, it was unusual for a foster home to be allowed to adopt unless there were extenuating circumstances. (i.e. the child had medical problems, was developmentally delayed, was of African descent and there were no families on file who were requesting that particular age/gender/race child, or the child was emotionally unstable.) And if the child was considered healthy and mostly perfect, if the child that was over two hadn’t resided in the home for at least eighteen months, it was fairly unusual for the foster family to be the family of choice. Someday, I just might document the series of miracles that took place when we were allowed to adopt Christina through Franklin County Children’s Services. Oh, Glory!
In addition to the “long termers” there were ten other children: sisters; Tina and Christina, a baby; Dione, Anna’s brother; Roger, Mexican siblings; Bernaden and Joseph, brothers; Boyd and Brian, and brothers; Shawn and Timothy — all coming and staying from as short a time as overnight to over seven weeks. Most were returned to their natural families, but some went to “more permanent” faster situations.