Friday, November 8, 2013
Angela's Story: Foster Care Adoption, Reunification, and Forgiveness
The Adoption at the Movies contest generated some thought-provoking responses. One very gripping response was from Angela. She shared her own life story: her entry into foster care, her adoption, her adjustment after adoption, and her search for her birthfamily. Angela gave permission for her story to be shared here.
I want to share a story of a little girl who was born addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her story takes place in 1976 in Oklahoma City. She was born in the back of an ambulance and went through a month of drug detox. During her detox her mom came to see her very infrequently. Six months later Child Protective Services were called out to the child’s home. The investigators found four little kids living in substandard conditions. The investigators found that the two younger children were being medically neglected. The little girl had sores all over her mouth and chin and neck. She had been drinking a bottle of formula mixed with alcohol (her mother had said it was the only way to get her to stop crying.) The children were taken into protective custody.
All four children were placed into separate foster homes. The mother was told that, in order to get her children back, she needed to find employment, get sufficient housing, and enter a drug counseling program. Eventually, the grandmother got custody of the two older kids; however, the two younger kids stayed in foster care. An aunt had tried to get custody of all of the children, but a judge had found her house to be too small. The kids stayed separated.
During this whole time the mother visited only infrequently. It seemed to the little girl that her mother found drugs to be more important than her children. The mother relinquished her parental rights. The two older children stayed with their grandmother, but the two younger children – still in separate foster homes – became wards of the State.
The little girl went through a series of foster homes. She was shy, but had temper tantrums. She didn’t like strangers. She didn’t like her schedule being messed up. She showed delays in her gross motor skills and had physical challenges. And she was still a few months shy of her third birthday.
At the age of 2 ½, she got her “Forever” home. Her new parents had only a day’s notice to pick her up, and she arrived with nothing more than her clothes, shoes, and a small teddy bear. She had a hard time adjusting to the new home; for two weeks, she would only sit silently in a corner. She was compliant, though, and would do whatever was asked of her.
Some onlookers would say at this point, “She has a new family and all of her problems are over. She has a happy ending. She has a good life now.” But for a Foster Child, even after getting taken out of their bad situation they still have a lot go to through. Some will go through it for the rest of their life. It defines them.
This little girl’s story was not over. She still had challenges to overcome.
The family who had adopted her was a Pastor's family. They moved every few years from church to church. She didn't like change, yet she had change all the time. That was very hard on her. She heard painful questions with each move:
"You don't look like your parents?"
"OH,You are adopted? Why didn't your mom want you?"
She didn't know why.
She didn't understand going to the nursery as a little kid was just normal. She wasn't sure if her mommy was coming back to get her or if someone else was going to be picking her up.
Don't get me wrong - she was well-loved and well taken care of, and she knew it. She loved her Forever Family. Yet she wondered about her mom. She wondered if she had any brothers and sisters out there that looked like her. She thought of her mom on her birthday and every Mother's Day.
When she reached adulthood, she decided to look for her mom. She knew her mom's name but it was a common one. She wasn’t sure how to find her, so she gave up.
Then one day, God lead a lady into her life who could help her. By the end of the day, she had found both of her parents and all but one of her siblings! It was totally overwhelming! The only one not found is her brother who was adopted from foster care. She also never got to meet her mom. Her mom had passed away a few years ago.
I am sure you are wondering where this girl is today. Well, I am this little girl. When I was little I used to ask God "why me". I never understood why couldn't just live a normal life. I have been through a lot. And in the last year I have learned why. I feel what other foster kids are going through. To help people understand what a foster kid is feeling, I have held started a ministry in my church called Abe & Sarah's Kids. We want to eliminate the use of plastic trash bags as suitcases for these kids and to provide essentials for those who come with nothing.
Oh, by the way, my favorite movie is October Baby. The part about forgiveness hits me every time. I had never thought of forgiving my birth mom.
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