Thursday, May 28, 2009

True Stories of Life in a Foster Family by Ralph Berry

This story aired on WMRA's Civic Soapbox.

"There was once a little girl who was sexually abused by someone in her family. Child Protective Services removed the little girl from her home and placed her with a foster family. The wise foster mom knew she had to help the little girl feel safe so that she could win her trust and help her to heal. The little girl was afraid of taking a bath in the bathtub (this is where the sexual abuse had taken place) so the foster mom said she could take a sponge bath in her bedroom instead. Every night for months the foster mom would spread a towel on the little girl’s bedroom floor and help her take a bath.

One day the foster mom asked the little girl what would make her feel safe taking a bath in the bathtub. The little girl replied that she didn’t want any lights on in the bathroom and that she wanted her foster mom to stay with her and to lock the door once they were inside. The foster mom asked if she could at least put a candle in the corner of the bathtub so that they wouldn’t fall over something and the little girl agreed. Every night for months the foster mom would go into the bathroom with the little girl and lock the door behind them, while the little girl took her bath.

One day, while the little girl was taking a bath, she said she had something to tell her foster mom but she wanted her to turn around and look the other way first. So the foster mom sat down facing away from the little girl and the little girl told about the abuse she had suffered. She asked her foster mom not to tell anyone. The foster mom explained that she had to tell the little girl’s Children’s Services worker but would not tell anyone else. Every night at bath time the little girl told her foster mom the same story about the abuse, for this is one way children heal from their hurts. The little girl’s therapist and Children’s Services worker realized that the little girl might never tell anyone else about the abuse so they trained the foster mom what to do to help the little girl heal. Whenever the little girl would tell about the abuse her foster mom would put her story into words and feelings. “That would have scared me,” “That would have made me angry, how did that make you feel?” the foster mom would ask the little girl.

One evening, a year later, as they were preparing for the little girl’s bath the little girl told her foster mom that she didn’t have to come into the bathroom with her when she took her bath anymore. The little girl turned the light on in the bathroom, went in alone and closed the door.

The little girl’s parental rights were eventually terminated and the foster family was able to adopt her. The “little girl” has since grown up and graduated from high school last spring. She was accepted by four different universities!!!!"

This story is a bonus one for the WMRA website from Mr. Berry.

"As we concluded our training to be foster parents the Children’s Services worker started indicating to us that they thought they had a child who would fit well in our home. This little boy was eight years old and had been back and forth between birth parents and foster families--but they were really hoping for a "forever" home for him. We got very excited and were hoping this would be the right match. How do you ever really know about these things except to trust and pray? Well, after a difficult several weeks waiting for my finger prints to clear we finally got the "thumbs up" to take this little boy. Now, as is true for many foster kids, his stuff came to us in garbage bags. We had a few hours to get his stuff unpacked before he arrived with the Children’s Services worker. As we were unpacking his stuff we found a number of stuffed dinosaurs. As we set these around his room I came upon one that stood out. It was a teal colored stegosaurus made of chintz fabric. As I tossed it onto the bed I commented to my husband that it looked like one our birth daughter had had many years ago. Once the room was put together I sat down on the bed to think about the changes that were about to happen in our life. After being empty nesters for almost 8 years we were opening our home to a hyperactive 8 year old boy. Once again, I wondered, how do you know if it's the right match? I picked up the teal dinosaur and held it as I thought more about this. At that moment I noticed the tag on the teal dinosaur--written in sharpie were the initials A and B. Well, I had my answer--this WAS the dinosaur that had belonged to our daughter years ago--those were her initials. It had migrated to a thrift shop when she cleaned out her room to set up her first apartment and now it had found its way back to us in the few things owned by this little boy. Over the years we faced some hurdles, but the joy he has brought us has far outweighed these challenges. We are glad to say he found his 'forever home.'"

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I write for lots of different venues, so this blog provides links to those places. Plus, occasionally, stuff that appears no where else . . .