June 3rd, 1998 was the best day of my life, next to the birth of my children and marrying the man of my dreams, of course. On that third day of June, I met and moved in with my new foster family. I didn’t know it at the time, but one day Desiree, Cloy and their two beautiful daughters, Shelby and Kaylee, would become my forever family.
After just the first month of being in their home, I quickly thought of Desiree and Cloy as my Mom and Dad, and I already felt like I was the big sister to their two annoyingly, awesome girls. This family–my forever family–opened their doors and hearts to me and other kids like me. Kids with no one, kids that no one wanted, and kids who just needed to be wanted.
From day one, I knew wholeheartedly that Desiree and Cloy took care of foster kids not for any money that they received but because they had so much love they wanted to give and needed to share it with kids they felt needed it the most. Every month, Desiree and Cloy would receive a check to “take care of us,” and every month they made sure that we had everything we needed and wanted, probably greatly exceeding whatever amount was in that check. Again, for them, caring for us wasn’t about money; it was about helping us kids.
Three months before my 16th birthday, I started acting out–being defiant at home and at school, and just generally not being a pleasant person. As a foster child, I had a lot of emotions that I didn’t know how to process or express. Unfortunately, Desiree and Cloy took the brunt of my behaviors, and after months of conflict with no relief in sight, it was determined that their home was no longer a good placement for me. My behaviors were proving too difficult for Desiree and Cloy to handle on their own and was impacting everyone in the home. Two weeks before I turned 16, I came home from school to find all of my belongings packed up and my case worker sitting in my living room. Moving foster homes resulted in me having to move from my home, my school and my town–everything familiar to me. Once I was placed with a different foster family, I would call Desiree in tears every day, trying to process through my feelings of missing her desperately and wanting to understand why I had made life so difficult for everyone. All I knew is that I wanted to be back with my foster family again more than anything.
Two months after I was moved, I again came home from school to a surprise. There waiting for me in my driveway was my forever family–Desiree, Cloy and their two girls. Desiree and Cloy had missed me too, and wanted to give our family a second chance. I was getting to go home with my family–a family who wanted me. I was their daughter and big sister.
Fifteen years later, my mom, Desiree, and I talked about this event. I listened as she explained how the decision they made to let me go had been the most difficult decision they had ever had to make; and how picking me up two months later had been one of the best choices they’ve ever made. Foster parents have to weigh so many factors when caring for children–the wellbeing of their biological children, their foster children, their marriage, etc., and sometimes when you weigh all these factors, you have to make hard choices. I am just so thankful that my parents and I were able to find each other again, and that we loved each other enough to work through all of the challenges we faced.
To my forever family, thank you for caring enough, for always being there and for loving me like you do–like your daughter and sister.