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.



At 9:44 PM , Blogger FosterAbba said...

Yeah that story definitely has a big bunch of "ick factor" to it. I'm sorry your family is going through this...

At 7:40 AM , Blogger Yondalla said...

I am sorry, and I hope that you and yours all come through this, as I can see you are already doing.

At 6:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the pain and confusion and disappointment. As a youth minister, though, let me encourage you: what you've described (the double life, incest, the shocking reversal of an adult child's "success" because of poor judgment/morals/whatever) is common in the NON-foster world. I promise. *hugs*

Both my parents and my husband's have experienced the despair of having children go seriously astray, both as teens and as adults. But we all came back eventually. :o)

I think because it's a foster/adoption scenario, there's the potential to cause you to become cynical. Remember the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-21). ;o)

God's peace upon you.


At 12:15 PM , Anonymous Auntie J said...

Im sorry...that reallly sux...* Hugs*


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