A woman needs to mother. A child needs to be mothered. We were a perfect match, my foster daughter and I.
Foster parenting was something I’d wanted to do for some time, so when my husband agreed, we went for it. We had no sooner finished the training, when the calls started coming in. First we had a few young boys, aged between three and nine, for respite weekends. Then we got the call. They had a little girl named Rose, who had just turned eight. She had been in a foster home with her siblings - a sister aged 10, and a baby brother, who was a year old. The foster parents had not been treating Rose well and she wound up physically ill from the emotional turmoil. She had been hospitalized and the authorities didn’t want her to return to the same foster home.
Yes! My husband and I were so excited, as were my daughter, who was then 12 years old, and my 14-year-old son. Rose arrived the next day. Adorable, and a little shy, she sat down on the couch with the case worker to get acquainted. By that evening, she was entertaining us - we sat on the couch, Rose danced to music in front of us. It took less then two weeks for her to feel right at home. She fitted right into our family. She even resembled our daughter, in fact so much so that people thought they were sisters. I enjoyed reading to her, cuddling her, praying for her, helping her with homework, taking her to Brownies and gymnastics, and doing crafts with her. Our daughter and Rose truly bonded as sisters. Initially, our son had a personality clash with her and simply tolerated her but eventually, they got past that.
Rose had weekly visits with her parents and seemed content to keep things as they were. We even discussed the possibility of adopting her. It was clear to us and the authorities that her parents were not fit. We couldn’t believe it, therefore, when, almost four years later, while actually in the process of terminating her parents’ rights, the judge decided to send her and her siblings back to their parents! As a result of this decision, Rose began to disengage herself emotionally from me. This was a very hard time for me but I can see it also made it easier for both of us to part. She became very cold towards me and on the day that she left I barely got a hug as we piled her belongings into the back of a van.
After about a month, I contacted her parents, and they allowed us to have her for a weekend. What a needed reunion! It took a few visits for her to warm up to me again, but she did, and she never stopped calling us Mom and Dad or considering our daughter to be her sister.
I don’t think she was with her parents for much over a year, before they were removed from their home again. This time Rose’s eldest sister, who was married and had a son, had taken the classes to foster parent and took them in. For a while, we continued to have Rose visit us and we attended her birthday party, but slowly Rose stopped being available. She wouldn’t call, or visit. As hard as it was on us, it really broke my daughter’s heart.
Just as Rose turned 14, my husband and I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. We talked to Rose about visiting us here and before I visited New York, the first summer after we moved, I tried to arrange to see her while I was there. However, I never got to talk to Rose. Her sister didn’t seem willing to work anything out, so I didn’t get to see her. She has called twice since we’ve been here, almost two years now, but nothing recently.
Rose is going to be 16 this June. It hasn’t been easy for her. She wasn’t happy living with her sister, so she went to a temporary Respite home about 8 months ago. Her case worker called and asked us if we were willing to adopt her. We said yes, but when she presented the idea to Rose, Rose rejected it. We learnt that her mother wanted her to live with her. I asked the case worker to have Rose call us. We don’t have access to her phone number. Rose never called. When the court date came for her mom to try to get Rose, her mom didn’t show. Now her sister is trying to get her back. I know these things from talking with her sister on the phone. I am thankful that her sister is willing to fill me in. She is our only link to Rose right now.
I send Rose letters and cards but it’s been a long time now since we’ve heard from her. She will always be a daughter to us in our hearts and I hope she will always think of us as Mom and Dad. I also hope that, once she gets through all of this, she’ll contact us and rekindle her relationship with us. She is in our prayers daily. We will always love her.
It was a wonderful experience for us, being foster parents. We knew what Rose’s home life had been like, that it was anything but normal, and we are thankful that we had the opportunity to give Rose a taste of normal family life. The things we were able to expose her to she would not have had otherwise.
Rose rarely opened up and talked about things; when she did, it was only to our daughter. She always had a beautiful, carefree smile on her face and she seemed truly happy while she lived with us. I am sad that I can’t be there for her now and sad that she won’t let my daughter into her life now, either. But we will all be there for her when she is ready.
PS: After I wrote this, I decided to call Rose’s sister to see if she could tell us what was going on with Rose. No one answered, so I left a message. About half an hour later, the phone rang. I picked it up and…it was Rose! She is living with her sister again. She sounded wonderful and we had a great conversation - “I love you. I miss you, etc.” She said she was doing well in school; all A’s. I told her I was so proud of her. She’d always been a smart student ! We are working on plans for me to pick her up on the day I get to New York next month and have her spend the night with me at my daughter’s house. I am so excited. She also said she would call my youngest daughter, Carie, to whom she was so close. I am hoping to get her down here to NC this summer for a visit. I’d been praying every day that God would put it in Rose’s heart to call us. And there you have it! Thank you, Lord !