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Feature Novel Reflections of a Bin-Bag-Boy by Ethan James Starr

 

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Voices from the Other Side of Foster Care
 
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Author Jody K. Gore

Stories of broken families, hearts and homes abound within the foster care system. I don't hear of many making front page news. I do see celebrities hit the headlines when out-of-country adoptions are made by these same individuals.

 My story starts with me not able to bear children. I knew I would adopt. When my husband and I sought adoption agencies, we were shocked by the amount of American children, especially older, that were and are in both foster care and the adoption circuit.

 My husband and I became foster parents within a program entitled, fost-adopt. This program held risks. The child/children that would come in our home and heart, would leave for permanent adoptive families along with the scars of separation from birth parents.

 In addition, these children and families held the biggest challenge for what the social workers entitled, blow-outs. Blow-outs were when caregivers could no longer keep a child under their care. Often sad, always devastating for all involved.

 Soon after paperwork was complete and our home was certified, we were called to meet the social worker that would change our lives. This social worker worked specifically with fost-adopt families; working the fine line of the emotional fall-out between birth parents and foster families. Our social worker, and others like her, climb into sad, painful trenches and pull shattered children to safety.

 We met our daughter in the parking lot of the Best Western Motel. It rained torrents that day. My husband and I waited in the car for the green van entitled, Social Services, to appear. When it did, a five-year-old dark eyed, dark haired child peeked at us through van windows.

 I remember my heart pounded and my throat was dry. Yet this child appeared non-plussed as she eagerly held the hand of hers and now our social worker. She gave a shy smile to my husband, Guy as we hustled out of the rain to our room.

This extremely beautiful child, and her brother, were fost-adopt children. Recently separated from her younger brother, mother, she, by the age of five, had lived in two foster homes and occasionally with her birth mom. Birth dad had long since deserted the small family. Drugs, neglect, and molestation brought to this child survival characteristics she would deal with the rest of her life. Regardless, she held a vitality for life that was and still is remarkable.

Our foster home was her last chance. Her next move in the foster system was group home. She was prone to violent temper tantrums. Add to this a strong distrust of authority and it was no wonder a psychiatrist had deemed her, 'un-adoptable'. To say she was a challenge was an understatement. My daughter had the advantage of strong, persist ant social workers that believed she could succeed within a family setting.

 What did we bring to the table as foster parent's of a high-risk child? Love, tenacity, structure and very open minds to education as to how to foster what was good and unique in our child.

Within eighteen months, our daughter's birth parents' parental rights were severed and we received full custody for adoption rights. As we heaved a sigh of relief, the call most regretted from within foster care circles came from our social worker. Our daughter's brother had blown-out of his fifth fost-adopt placement. I cried. Not only for him, but for all involved. At 3:00 a.m. he was delivered to social services emergency care with what he wore on his back and a paper bag that held shoes two sizes to big. What a set back.

My daughter, now six and a-half, asked me what was wrong. Why was I crying? She was not a child of innocence. She knew the terminology of the social system and she knew she was ours, forever. To buffer any pain I held her and explained that brother had blown-out of his fost-adopt family. She contemplated for a moment and then quietly stated, "better him than me." I knew what she meant.

From there things moved in a blur. Social workers gathered to fight for a home for brother...our home. Would it be wise to bring in another high-risk child to our sometimes fragile mix? Bottom line, he was brother. In our eyes and hearts that made him our son. The rhetoric of unknowns in bringing brother home continued until my brave husband announced simply, "let us bring our son, home."

Now, years later, my daughter and son have stable marriages. Each have two beautiful children. They have ended the cycle of abuse that haunted them and two generations before them. No body's past or present is perfect, but a willingness to learn and the guts to love makes a life worth living.
 

I wrote this as a tribute to those social workers that are under paid, rarely appreciated, and still works their butts off for the betterment of American children. Thank-you!

Jody K. Gore

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 Please help build this information base, share your Fostering experiences.
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