When strangers come together in harmony,
|Thanksgiving is a time for family. Write a story about a person who has no family but gets one for the holidays, even if for only the day. (Of course your story may be about a more permanent change. Or not.)
I thought long and often about fostering. I called the agency, became familiar with the rules and regulations, what was expected and required of a foster parent and I inquired of the financial aspects of fostering.
I realized the stipend offered would never cover the needs of a growing child, let alone leave anything as payment for me. The job would be more a volunteering position and the reward would be that I was able to support a homeless child in making some difficult choices in life.
Even so, I was strongly tempted to go ahead and sign a contract. Ms Clarke, a Foster Care worker came to visit and answered all my questions. There are always questions that are not asked, of course, but I thought I had covered all the bases. I had the room, the furniture, the equipment and the stamina that I thought was required for the job.
It was a very difficult decision and I waffled for months with the pros and cons. I think the cons outnumbered the pros in that children in care were very often troubled. The act of abandonment or perceived abandonment has lasting affects on a child of any age and those affects can cause unwise decision-making and outright hostility. I knew if there were anger and hostility issues, they would be directed at me. In the eyes of a young person before the age of conscious thinking, passion and emotion would be the basis of action. Was I up to the challenge? Did I have the patience? My background was accounting, not childcare.
I also knew each of the children in care necessarily had learning difficulties. Again, the act of abandonment by their parents, whom they loved was uppermost in their minds and often resulted in difficulty concentrating on their studies. Could I be of help in their school studies? It had been a long time since I had attended school and things had changed considerably. Ms Clarke, an experienced social worker, thought I could handle the situation. I was not so sure.
During our third meeting, she asked me to consider having one or two children over for a Thanksgiving dinner. I reluctantly agreed. Thanksgiving was just a week away so I had time to shop and fuss over a traditional meal. I also picked up a couple of board games, in case they wanted to play after dinner. I had decided to invite two young girls about the age of eight or ten. Ms Clarke said she would bring two that she thought would be compatible and then I could choose one or the other.
About one o’clock on Thanksgiving Day, the worker arrived with two of the loveliest young girls I could imagine. Of course, I knew they would be on their best behaviour for our first meeting. Ms Clarke introduced me to Sheila, aged ten and Megan, aged 9. The girls had never met each other before so we were all strangers getting together for the first time. Each of us was hoping for the best possible outcome.
I was amazed at how quickly the girls got to know each other and the multitude of questions they had for me. Yes, I lived alone. No, I didn’t have a dog or a cat. Yes, I liked children. Yes, I liked macaroni and cheese and peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently, these were the favourite meals for each of them. By the time dinner was on the table, Sheila and Megan were best of friends and had exchanged email addresses and phone numbers. This was easier than I thought – so far.
Ms Clarke came to collect the girls about seven o’clock. As she was buckling up their seat belts, she asked me how things went. I could hardly believe my own ears when I said, “Could I take them both?” The girls were jumping in their seats. “Can we, can we, pleeese, Ms Clarke?” they cried.
That was many years ago. Sheila, after finishing high school with little difficulty, worked at a few jobs and is now attending college, studying to be a Foster Care professional. She always was the one who took care of her little ‘sister’ and I have no doubt she will became a wonderful and caring social worker. Megan was the timid one. She loved animals and has great potential in her chosen field as a Veterinarian. Yes, we did get a dog, a cat, a canary, a guinea pig and I think a rat while the girls were going through their teens. Suddenly I had a family and so did they.
Word count: 812
21 Nov ‘09