Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More from Dr. John DeGarmo

From the book Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey, by Dr. John DeGarmo.

It was 10:30, and our own kids had long gone to sleep, when the caseworker arrived with the two girls. The girls were scared, both of them. And why not? They had been taken from their home late at night, taken away from their mother, and placed in a strange home with strange people now looking at them.
The caseworker, Shaun, sat across the table from us, sipping a cappuccino I had made for her. “Sarah is four, and Mary Sue is six months,” Shaun said. “They suffer from poor nutrition and neglect.”
“Why were they taken from their homes?” I wanted to know.
“Well,” Shaun began, “their mother and father were homeless, and moving from one hotel to another. There was also an incident with a knife, and the children were left in a hotel by themselves for awhile, while the parents were out.”
“Is the father the father of both children? They look nothing alike,” I wanted to know.
“No, there are two different dads. The mother lives with Mary Sue’s father, and Sarah’s father is in jail,” Shaun said.
“Is this all the clothes they have?” Kelly asked, pointing to the black plastic bag Shaun brought with her.
“Yes, it’s not much, but it is all I could get. We had to go into the house with a police escort, as the mother was trying to prevent us from removing the children. If you buy the
children new clothes, just keep the receipts and put them with your monthly invoice, and you will be reimbursed.”
“How about formula and diapers for Mary Sue?” I asked. “Will we be reimbursed for that too? Diapers are quite expensive.
“Yes. Same as the clothes, just keep the receipts and hand them in with the invoice, too.”
It had been a long night, and everyone was tired. We signed the necessary paperwork for taking the two girls into our house that DFCS required, and thanked Shaun for everything she had done. But, if Kelly and I thought we were about to go to bed, we were seriously mistaken. It was at this point that the screaming started. Screaming that we came to recognize in the future as quite normal for a first night placement into a foster home for a young, confused child. Yet, if it was only the screaming….
“I want my mommy! You can’t keep me here! I want my mommy!” Sarah screamed, hysterically, as tears flowed down her face. What we were not prepared for came next, very quickly. Sarah ran to the closest door and tried to open it. “You can’t keep me here,” she screamed again, desperately trying to get out. Holding Mary Sue, I went to close the door, while Kelly tried to comfort Sarah.
“I know, I know, Sarah,” Kelly said. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart.”
Without missing a beat, Sarah ran straight to another door, and tried the same thing. I felt my heart breaking for her. Sarah was simply scared. She didn’t know who Kelly or I was. She only knew that she was not home with her mother. As I ran to lock all the doors in the house, Kelly swooped Sarah up in her arms, and tried to console her with soft kind words. Mary Sue
was crying, as well, and was quickly given a bottle. As I was bathing her, Kelly and I both noticed that her skin was black, and Kelly suspected that it might be second degree burns. The burns, though, were in fact hard packed dirt. Mary Sue’s legs, feet, and hands were covered in so much dirt, that she looked like she had burns. For the second time that night, my heart broke. After a thorough and tough scrubbing, Mary Sue was asleep in her crib in our bedroom. Sarah, on the other hand, was not so easy to put to sleep. Kelly spent an hour cradling little Sarah, scared little Sarah, in her arms, rocking her to sleep. It wasn’t easy, as Sarah screamed and cried herself to sleep. Sarah, though, wasn’t the only one crying. Kelly was, too.

You can read more of Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Journey, as it is available at Amazon.com, Crossbooks.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and other online book services.

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