Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meltdown for "Tammy"

We had our share and support meeting tonight. When "Tammy" stayed with us this week, we noticed she was especially quiet and reserved, even for her. Now we understand a little more why.

Things have been going on in her life...things that we didn't know about. Nobody did outside her family, until she finally opened up in therapy and let her counselor know. I probably shouldn't get into details, except to say that it involves nastiness that was being done to her, and while her immediate family weren't the perps, at least a couple of them appear to have been aware that it was going on.

You see, "Tammy" is now sitting in detention for assaulting a police officer. The officer tried to push her to do something she really didn't want to do. "Tammy" is normally completely docile with us, but I've sensed a harder edge to her under the surface, and I studiously avoid it. It works out well. She loves us and we love her, and we can try to avoid the bad spots. That's what friends and family do. The cop apparently wasn't interested in being tuned into her mood, so he got punched, kicked and from what i hear pretty badly scratched for his trouble.

What she did was completely wrong, and I'd bet my computer she knows it very well. There's no excuse for what she did, and detention isn't the worst thing I can think of. That said, this girl needs help more than punishment. Her family is one of those hopeless ones, and while she loves her mother very much and her mother loves her, I don't think there's another member of that family she would really miss if she left for good.

I wish she could come here, full time, until she ages out. I could and almost do really love this girl like a daughter, and I know damn well that there would NEVER be any more nastiness in her life like she's had to live with. Not in a million years.

In the time since she's been with us off and on, we've heard comments about how people can tell when she's been with us awhile because she just seems to blossom after she's been at our house. I tell them that's her natural state. She just needs a little TLC and she becomes this whole, beautiful person. Then they make her go home and she withdraws again, her hair gets stringy, she doesn't bathe and she gets really apathetic and sleeps most of the time.



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Tammy" Busted

"Tammy", who has been staying with us on and off, usually for a night or two every week or two for respite, apparently attacked a cop at school and is now a guest of the city or county government (not sure which).

She is actually a pretty interesting case, but I should say up front that while I don't necessarily doubt that she did it and I don't blame them for busting her for it, I am in no way afraid of this girl. If I had an infant, I'd still be perfectly comfortable with her in the house, and I'd probably even let her take care of the baby for a short while. She is no real danger to anybody but maybe herself, and she would NEVER do anything to harm The Wife or me or any of our family.

She sometimes has difficulty with authority figures. We don't really count because we don't lay down the law with her much. She hasn't ever really needed it, and we aren't big fans of the heavy-handed schools of fostering thought. Life is too short to get all nasty with people if you don't have to, ya know?

Anyway, I'll be interested to hear her side of things. I'll bet anything she got in one of her moods and the cop laid some kind of smartass remark on her, so she clocked him one. I can just see it happening.

I find myself hoping she ends up coming to stay on a more full-time basis for awhile. "Tammy" is my kind of chick, so laid back you wouldn't believe she was alive if her eyes weren't open. Always ready with a hug when I get home from work and very appreciative of meals, The Wife cleaning the house and suchlike. More kids could learn to be like her and the world would be a better place.

Ah, well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Josie" Update

Ah, yes, "Josie" still exists in this world. Barely. Things have been going on with her, but she hasn't been back to see us for a LONG time. She has, however, managed to turn nearly everybody but us and her mother against her. The girl's pretty and fun, but she just ain't smart.

Let's see...I believe I mentioned at one point that "Melanie" went and got herself just a little bit preggers. Well, she found herself a man when she was a few months gone. Trouble is, "Josie" found her man, and they liked each other just a little too much. So much for "Melanie's" beau AND her friendship with "Josie". Last words I heard on the subject from "Mel" was "I don't care if she jumps up her own ass and dies". Ouch.

"Josie" ran away from her brother's where she was staying, got caught in a nearby town and got sent to a fairly distant town to foster care there, on the theory that she had crapped in her nest so badly here she needed a new start where nobody knew her.

She ran away from there a month or two later and eventually was caught in yet another of the towns around here. I'm pretty sure her picture is part of the training curriculum at all Minnesota police academies by now.

She is now a long-term guest at one of the juvenile holding tanks around here. I have no idea what that girl is going to do when she turns 18, but I know it won't be good. She's going to have such a hard landing when she discovers that yes, you can do what you want when you turn 18, but yes, you'll also then be fully and personally responsible for the stupid things you do.

It's very hard to see such a young, fun, good person trying with everything they've got to throw away any chance they have at a bright future...but I've started to distance myself from it now. I fell in love with that girl and I guess that's not really ever going to change, but there are a lot of other kids that can still be helped and haven't done everything she's done to throw it back at in our faces. I guess I'll just have to concentrate on the success we've had with kids like "Tammy" and "Celeste". Not that those are guaranteed to bear a lot of fruit either, but but sooner or later we'll hit one out of the park if we just don't give up.

We have to hit some out of the park, or at least get the occasional ground-rule double. Else why are we even doing this? I mean, besides the outstanding entertainment?

Monday, October 22, 2007

In Which "Celeste" Blows It

She's been a real pleasure to have around lately, so the other shoe was pretty much due to drop. Tonight at play practice (we've finally gotten her interested in an activity!) the director was late. So "Celeste" does what every self-respecting, wholesome, not to mention intelligent girl does when she has a few minutes to kill. She slips outside and sparks up a cancer stick.

Wrong answer, when the director walks up behind you and busts your ass.

So then she claims it's going to be 3 days out-of-school suspension. I know this because it was repeated very loudly in The Wife's disgruntled-sounding shout that I heard at the other end of the house. She's getting good at this. So she jumped online and in 2 minutes flat she got the straight dope that the school's policy says for a first-time smoking offender the real penalty is one day in-school suspension, which mollified The Wife somewhat. I'll interject here that I'm glad I'm not a kid in this age. You can't get by with anything if your parents know what they're mom still hasn't learned a computer very well, but you can bet she would have if she had to in order to keep me in line when I was 12 or 13.

The interesting part of this exchange was that immediately after hearing this, "Celeste" replied, "Oh, okay. What's my punishment from you guys?" She sounded like Katie Couric asking Matt Lauer what sort of gel he used in his hair, because gee it looked great.

This sort of perky crap used to really get under my skin, but I've come to realize that in "Celeste's" case she seems to just revel in having the boom lowered on her head when she's done something wrong. She seems to like that someone cares enough to do the lowering. Luckily, I enjoy lowering it from time to time when given a good reason, so we're a match made in heaven.

This is so not a blown placement. She has gotten easier and easier to have around. She still has issues, like the other night when we found what looked like a "goodbye cruel world" note in her room. However, it was (probably purposely) left where The Wife would find it. We made her sign a contract that stipulated that she would be alive when we came to wake her in the morning. Hey, don't laugh. It works, and it's the standard technique they teach us in training to use when you have an iffy situation but your gut tells you it'll be okay. Call the on-call SW to CYA, and then make 'em sign on the dotted line.

But she also has some pretty cool moments. Like yesterday after church. I don't recall if I have mentioned in this space that I used to be something of an actor. I was in a LOT of plays as a kid, I starred in a few, and I entered college as a theater major before I recovered my sanity and switched to something that didn't involve me being gay and working as a waiter the rest of my life. I've mentioned to "Celeste" that I'd like to get involved in community theater or something, so she volunteered me for a church Christmas play they were setting up. Heh. I'd play her dad. One of the pastors was going to do the part, but maybe I'll end up doing it. Talk about your basic father/daughter activity. It would also be the first play I've acted in for close to 20 years.

Last item for the day...The Wife has now given away our new kitty to a family that recently lost their dog and doesn't have a lot of money, and then was given another kitty that the vet had hanging around (probably a thank-you for the gobs and gobs of cash we keep throwing at them for taking care of our menagerie) that may or may not be the first kitty's litter mate. She has already announced that she likes the old kitty better because the new one "isn't as snuggly". I'm not sure if that means that she's going to try to pull a switcheroo with the other family, but I don't much care either way. They're both furry rats that are sometimes nice to have around, and one is as good as the other I'd say.

And now I'll watch for the hate comments from cat-lovers that I know are lurking out there...but not without reminding them that while cats are all fine and good, the best cat can't even compare to the worst dog.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

For Your Reading Pleasure

My novel has not yet burst out of my brain through the keyboard to the hard drive yet, so I've decided I'm just going to start submitting stories and commentaries to magazines and newspapers to hone my skill until the novel gets its act together.

The Wife pointed out an ad in the local paper requesting stories for a regional pet magazine asking for humorous stories about pets for publication. What the heck? I'll give it a shot. I asked her what she thought I should write about. She reminded me of an incident that occurred not long before we moved outstate and started fostering.

And so, I give you a small story about Ebeneezer. To the best of my recollection, this is faithful to the actual incident in question. It still scares me a little bit to think about it.

When I married a few years ago, part of the package deal I had to accept as part of my nuptial bliss were three cats and a Siberian husky. Since I already had a mastiff cross of my own, this made for a full house, but for two animal lovers it was a home of full of warmth, happiness, cat boxes, poop scooping and of course lots of humor.

You'd think that it would be me presiding over this circus, or perhaps my new wife, if she were the stronger personality. You'd be mistaken. Her black cat, Ebeneezer, had the strongest personality of the household for the first year of our marriage, and as such it was his privilege and responsibility to lead this peculiar pack...though he probably thought of it as his "pride". Whatever the case, it was a gang of critters, human and otherwise, living together in rough harmony. I was just in charge of paying bills and watching the show.

Ebeneezer is no longer with us, having died within the first year of our marriage, but he still lives in our household's institutional memory as an intimidating leader and amazing character. Ebeneezer was not what you'd call an "outside cat". He was with my wife for many years. He was an apartment cat, then a leader of cats (and a human woman) in a house, then finally leader of three cats, two dogs and two humans. By that time he was getting a bit crochety in his old age, and one incident typifies his arbitrary, contradictory style perfectly.

One day my parents were visiting, helping us do some project or other around the house, when Ebeneezer got outside. This didn't happen often, but it wasn't unheard of. He was a house cat, but he enjoyed the odd outside adventure as well. My father walked over to pick him up and take him inside. As dad approached, he let out a sound that was alien to any sound I'd ever heard a cat make...and I heard it from inside the house. With all the doors and windows closed. I honestly thought it might be a woman screaming in the next yard or something, and I ran out to see what was wrong.

Here was Dad, standing about 10 feet away and contemplating a ball of fur that used to be Ebeneezer but was now about twice the size of Eber and resembled nothing so much as a porcupine. He was still growling, too, but now on a register so low that you couldn't hear it until you got near him, and then it vibrated your heels on the ground. It was a sound that said "okay, I'm nervous and scared, and if you try to pick me up I will slash your face off of your skull and eat your liver".

Eber was now crouched under a bush next to the house. Being the self-anointed animal expert that I was, I chided Dad for being nervous about picking him up and walked directly over to Ebeneezer. My plan was simply to pick up the growling cat and put him in the house, so I could mentally pat myself on the back and consider myself superior to Dad in the animal-handling arena. I don't have many arenas where I can feel superior to Dad, so I'll take them where I can get them. And then it happened.

Eber had no plans of allowing a mere peon in his catdom to simply pick him up and take him where he wasn't ready to go. He tried to warn me with the usual arched back, hiss, and fur fluffed out like a feather duster, but clearly he could see I wasn't impressed, so he decided to impress me. When I got within about of foot of touching him, he let out the loudest, most extended...SCREAM...that I've ever heard out of any animal in my life. I firmly believe that Eber could not have produced such a sound with his own vocal chords. I believe he drew on some sort of latent species ability, borrowing the voices of all the cats for miles around for just a moment to impress on me that no, I would NOT be taking him in my arms just this moment.

I thought about it for about two milliseconds before backing off in just exactly the same way Dad had and standing next to him, wondering at what I had just witnessed. When my wife came out to see just exactly what the issue was, she came upon quite a tableau. Two men standing halfway across the yard, chins in hands and apprehensively contemplating a fluffed-out, growl-rumbling, angry cat who seemed to be daring the men to make a move. The men did not appear ready to make a move, either.

"What's going on out here?" she wanted to know.

"I don't think he wants to be picked up right now," I said.

"Oh, don't be silly. It's just Eber." And before I could plead with her that I didn't want to be a widower at such a young age and I liked her face ON her skull and it would really be better to wait awhile, she picked him up and took him into the house. My Dad and I were left to look at each other and contemplate whether this incident and my wife's expert handling of it had done any lasting damage to our manhood. I think, three years or so later, the jury is still out on that one.

Two cats and two dogs have died (and been replaced) since that day, but Eber remains a unique, timeless classic. My parents and my wife and I are fond of recalling that incident and others like it, but I don't think I've really fully worn the pants in the family since that day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Couple of Notes

1) The internet is fun. I am now the #1 hit on google for the search phrase "why are people fascinated in animals". Referral logs are full of wonderful (and useless) information.

2) The internet is dangerous. I've had some good laughs over things I've seen in my logs, but also had some very, very bad moments when I've seen various search phrases.

If you have kids, keep them close to you. DO NOT let them talk to strangers on the internet. Don't let kids under 15 or so use the internet outside of a common area in your house, and it's invaluable to have a key logger program on your PC. I recommend K9 for controlling what your kids can browse to (doesn't help with many chat programs, though). I further recommend Perfect Key Logger to keep an eye on the things they're typing. Some people have qualms about "invasion of privacy". Your kids have no right of privacy when it comes to the internet. Remember that, and make sure they're protected.

Most importantly, confront them when you discover they've visited an inappropriate site or have been chatting inappropriately. Confiscate computers. Ground them for OMIGODTHEMOSTIMPORTANTSOCIALEVENTOFTHEYEAR, if that's what it takes to make them understand you're serious.

Hey, "Celeste" and "Jill" (before she left) absolutely detest these things. I can't think of a better endorsement for their effectiveness.

Gridiron Gang

I knew there was something I liked about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Even when I saw him a few times as a wrestler, there's just something about him that's charismatic as hell. Last weekend The Wife and I had a date and went to the movies, where we took in "The Game Plan", Johnson's latest offering. It was GREAT.

But tonight I'm home alone (ever notice how I usually blog when I'm home alone?) and I had a chance to take in "Gridiron Gang", which I never caught before now. I wouldn't have caught it now, except that Starz is having a free preview weekend and I'm taking full advantage, since I'm not too cheap to get satellite TV but am too cheap to buy a premium package. I guess my tolerance for throwing money away lies somewhere between those two points.

Anyway, Johnson's character is a sort of hard core version of me in the movie. He's in charge of a bunch of gang bangers that are in a sort of reformatory, and he's trying to teach them how to be, you know, actual people...given the ever-present limited resources and for sure ever-present bad attitudes on the part of the kids he's trying to reach.

Of course, the ending is the typical formulaic football ending with the game in the balance on the last play and the clock down to zero, yadda yadda yadda. I just really liked the way Johnson played the character. He's dealing with a few of his own issues, which are miniature versions of the issues the kids are dealing with. Sounds familiar. He gets frustrated and sometimes pushes the kids farther than they're ready to be pushed. Sounds familiar. He often comes close to giving up or losing his ability to help them. Sounds familiar.

Sometimes even us hopeless cases need a little inspiration. Thanks, Dwayne.

Anyway, in other news, last Friday a man in our church was killed in a car accident. He was the keyboardist for our church's band and one of the founding members. I heard about it late Friday night. I didn't know him well personally, but I knew him to say hello to and we have many mutual friends as well.

I sent a letter to the editor of the local paper, which ended up getting printed as a guest opinion column. Wow. I'd link to it here, but I suspect that would blow my "cover" even more than I've blown it in some of my various posts. For the same reason I'm hesitant to quote any of it, since that invites any yahoo with a search engine to find out my town, and probably more.

But readers here who have never lived in the country or in a small town most likely don't understand what sort of honor this is. I've had letters printed in the Minneapolis Star/Tribune, and once I had a commentary piece printed there. It's a different sort of honor there...there are probably a thousand people who submit commentary-length pieces every day. To get one printed is pretty cool. Somebody who does this stuff for a living decided I had something to say that people should read! Yay me!

This is a different--but no less spectacular--honor. This man was one of the local sons. Everybody knew him and had good things to say about him. The editor of the local paper is that most specialized of creatures. He's the pulse-taker for a small corner of the world. He's looking for a piece to comemmorate this that will speak to people who knew the man and will be a lasting piece that will find its home in scrapbooks and photo albums of those who knew him best. That my words would live on in such places is an honor I'm not sure I deserve, but one I'll gladly accept. That's the sort of thing that drives goons like me to write the things we write, after all.

It also seems to have made me a minor local celebrity-for-a-week. Suddenly it seems that many more people around here know who I am, even if it's just "that guy that wrote the article in the paper". The funeral was quite a spectacle, absolutely filling the high school gym. I showed up about 25 minutes early, and from the time I got there until the service started it seemed I thanked about 50 or 60 people who expressed how they liked it. A couple of people seemed speechless, and could only hug me. That's okay. I work for hugs. Heck, I do this just to get it outside of myself, where it can do less damage to my psyche than if it's bottled up inside for too long and turns rancid, you know?

What else...I've had laryngitis for about 3 weeks or more now, and I finally broke down and went to the doctor. She pronounced my throat to be a reasonable facsimile of "raw hamburger". Apparently it's simple tonsilitis, but "at your age, your body has a tougher time fighting off some infections." AT MY AGE! Is it time to apply for my AARP card yet? Sheesh. Anyway, she prescribed some stuff that has me feeling a bit tired, but I'll take it.

Also..."Celeste" is actually progressing pretty nicely. We're ever-so-slowly gaining her confidence, and last week she let the mask slip a bit and referred to The Wife as "Mom". Heh. Wish I could have been there to see her blush. Remember, we're talking about an ultra-tough super-goth bitch grrrrllll here. Plus, she's developed a delightful habit of sometimes walking up behind me while I'm sitting in my chair watching TV and, without saying a word, just leaning on the top of my head with her arms and watching with me for a few minutes.

Finally, related to the sore throat, I can already feel the medicine working and it was slowly starting to improve anyway. What this means--if past history is any guide--is that there is a short window of time coming up, possibly this weekend yet, when my voice will go through what I think of as the Def Leppard/Bon Jovi stage. For as little as a day and as long as two, my voice will retain that rough edge while my vocal cords are twisted into healing knots and I'll be able to sing the entire contents of Def Leppard's "Pyromania" album and Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" and "New Jersey" albums hitting all the notes except the high ones in "Livin' on a prayer", which nobody but Jon himself can sing properly without ripping their vocal cords a new one.

But all in all, it's all good. I still love my life.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Nice Sunday

We went to church this morning, and "Celeste" actually behaved herself and, tellingly to us, took communion. She was boycotting all things religious, but I think she is still trying to get herself right with God. It would be wonderful if she could, but just the idea that she's thinking about it thrills me. She's beginning to learn at least that she doesn't have all the answers, and that there are sources outside herself that are worth something.

It has been a long, rainy Sunday afternoon. "Celeste" began by demanding to go on the computer. She was on for 20 minutes, and since then has been spending time alternately watching TV in the kitchen and writing or laying in my spot in our bed watching TV with The Wife. Just the way a rainy Sunday afternoon should be spent, in my humblest of opinions.

For my part, I spent my day and will most likely spend my evening watching groups of extremely large, sweaty men try to beat each other up while following an arcane set of rules. I will compare each individual large, sweaty man's results against my guesses of who would beat up who the most in order to determine if my guesses about the matter were superior to those of faceless people I have never met and never will meet, to determine if I should taunt them or if I should be expecting them to taunt me.

This is known as "Fantasy Football", and it rawks.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Okay, I may have mentioned this before, but fairly regularly we have what are called "Share and Support" meetings. Essentially what this is a program set up by PATH where they give us credit for training if the PATH foster parents in our area get together and simply visit about how the fostering is going. In our case, we make it a pot luck and scoop massive amounts of chow into our yaps while we're at it.

Very sweet deal, and a pretty useful program, all told. It's not formal and there's always good food, so it's pleasant to attend. It's a good chance to establish friendships with the other foster parents and make connections for when we need respite. It's a WONDERFUL chance to compare notes on foster kids, learn about what families in the community are the "projects" that are likely to generate more foster kids (a heads-up is always nice), and it's just a good thing in so many ways I truly feel for the county foster homes that don't have a similar program (but should).

Anyway, to skip to a different subject for a moment. The other day I was talking with my boss, who is a very interesting man. Aside from being one of the better software developers I've had the pleasure to work with, he has an active outside-work life (not all that different from mine in some ways) in which he runs a nonprofit that helps ex-convicts get their lives together.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we started to discuss some of his current and former clients who had been in the foster system when they were kids. How much had the foster system really helped them? What, if anything, did they do wrong? What could have been done better? Did they like it? Did they tell their foster parents they liked it? Were they still in touch with their foster parents? Were they in more than one home, and if so how would they compare the different experiences? What factors, in their opinion, made one foster home more helpful than another?

And as we were discussing this, I had the epiphany. You remember those old commercials for Reese's peanut butter cups? The one where a good-looking guy eating a candy bar runs into a hot girl eating peanut butter straight from the jar and with incredibly crude symbolism they discover "two great tastes that taste great together"? That's the moment that was created here.

I fired off an email to "Vicki", who seemed to like the idea. I'm going to invite my boss along with one of his former-foster-kid-types (his choice which one) to our November S&S gathering. Other foster parents really need to hear the things he was telling me, and all of us could benefit from the chance to hear it straight from the mouth of someone who was a product of the system.

On the other side, my boss told me that one of the main problems with these guys (not unlike foster kids) is that they have a hard time understanding why anybody would want to help them, and how they are worth anything. This would give them a chance to help out others in a concrete way that they can easily understand, and be a potential major benefit to the kids we are trying to help. Everybody wins.

Plus, the usual hosts of our S&S gatherings raise horses, and one of their side businesses is providing horse therapy to whoever wants it (the day-treatment school is a regular client, from what I gather). My boss seemed interested in maybe trying that with his clients, and wants to talk to the guy that does it. I'm just creating synchronicity all over the place here.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go see if we have any chocolate stashed anywhere around here. Writing about it made me a bit peckish.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A True Story

WARNING: This may be considered a disturbing post. I know it is to me. Just don't say you weren't warned...

Sometimes, fostering is a long, long, long game, and it's one you don't always win...but you don't necessarily lose until you give up.

There once was a girl in her early-to-mid teens. She came from a small group of families that were known more or less as the hillbillies of the county. They had strange ideas about how a family should work and how to get on in their community.

This girl experienced various forms of abuse and eventually ended up in foster care with a family that came to care very much about her. She had problems, and she was sometimes sneaky and untrustworthy, but she had a bright, shining side to her that was a joy to see and know. Her family situation made it such that she couldn't return home all the rest of her teen years for more than home visits, and after establishing strong bonds with her foster family she went off to college to seek her fortune.

While at college, she met The Man Of Her Dreams. He was a good looking guy, friendly, outgoing, and a strong Christian. He hit it off with her foster family immediately, and she seemed to make a good impression on his family. They eventually married and had several children, setting up house and preparing to live the American dream for the rest of their lives.

She eventually (by her mid-to-late 20s) had had it with her birth family, and approached her former foster parents about the possibility of making her relationship to their family formal through adoption. She wanted to cut all ties to her birth family and replace them with the foster family that had treated her well and with love at a time in her life when that was what she needed most.

The foster family spoke about it among themselves and decided unanimously that they would be pleased to add this woman as a new member. It seemed very natural, since she had basically been a part of the family already in any case. She had gone on family vacations with them, cried with them, laughed with them, shared her own and their joys and sorrows, and so forth. How would it really be much different if she was formally adopted? And so it went.

The years rolled by and her new family watched her raise her children into fine young adults. She and her husband occasionally had problems, but what couple doesn't? No alarm bells rang...or at least not very often or for very long. Only once did it seem that they might have serious trouble, but that sorted itself out eventually. The couple was very financially successful, attended church together with their children regularly, sent all their children to a private school, lived in very nice houses, and so forth. Her husband eventually started his own very successful business.

Along the way, her "new" family attended various Christmas, Independence Day, graduation and other celebrations that mark a family's progress in life. It was very satisfying to the former foster parents and their birth children. They felt that no matter how many foster kids they had tried to help and failed, at least they made it with one. That made it all worth it.

One day, the foster family received a call. Their adopted daughter, it appeared, had for some time been leading a bit of a double life. Her youngest child was in his last year of school, and she had decided she could no longer live as she had been. She hadn't loved her husband for several years. She was leaving him. For a relative. Of hers.

Remember when I said her family was known as the hillbillies of their county? It would seem that sometimes there are rumors for good reasons.

The kicker? Word has it she's suing for custody of her youngest child. Apparently this almost-no-longer-a-child just can't get the necessary care from a moderately wealthy man who loves the child, has supported and lived together with the child all its life, and is supported by both his own and his erstwhile wife's adopted families.

There's more, but I think I've given as many gory details as I can stand to this gloomy night.

Sigh. The ick factor is so very strong in this situation and I have such a problem trying to get past that that I can't analyze any of the rest of the many levels on which this whole thing is just so, so wrong. I've been trying for several days, and I'm no further than I was the first night.

If you foster them, they will come. And stomp on your heart and guts and everything else. Again and again. And again. And then, after many fits and starts, you will get them up on their feet and get them successfully launched out into the wide world, and they will even have much success in their lives. And then one day they will call you up and explode your frontal lobe over the phone, leaving a smoking crater in the top of your skull.

Folks, if I haven't made it clear, it takes a real optimist to be in this business. Some would say it takes a fool. Right now, I'm not in the mood to disagree with them. But I'm not quitting. No way. I flat refuse.