There are thousands of children in the United States that reside in some form of foster care, and various reasons for foster placement.
Most children who enter foster care are reunited with their birth parents within two years. Many children, however, can spend long periods of time in care awaiting adoption or other permanent arrangement. Being removed from their home and placed in foster care is a difficult and stressful experience for any child.
THIS IS MY STORY TOLD WITH ONE CHILD’S POINT OF VIEW:
“The Bus Ride”
The day I turned six years old, Mrs. Baxter took me to the bus station, gave me strict instructions to mind my manners, listen to the bus driver, and to do what he said.
I climbed up the steps of the bus and quickly found an empty seat and sat down. As I sat there, I felt terrified!
Mr. Morris, the bus driver, came to my seat and handed me a small paper bag. He was a very tall man with curly brown hair and the darkest green eyes I had ever seen. He gave me a friendly smile and told me I could eat what was in the bag when I got hungry. Then he reached behind my seat, got a small pillow and set it on my lap. He told me the journey would be a long one and we would arrive in Nags Head, N.C. by day break. I wasn’t sure what the words day break meant, but I was certain that I would be riding on the bus all night.
As the bus pulled away from the bus station I tried very hard not to cry, but my tears burst through and rolled down my cheeks. I fell asleep and woke up when I heard rain beating against the windows. The lightening was flashing all around me. I picked up the pillow in my lap, hugged it tightly and closed my eyes. As I trembled with fear, the bus began to slide on the pavement. The other passengers on the bus began to scream. I opened my eyes in time to see a large tree limb fall next to the bus. The bus continued to slide until it hit the side of a building. The impact was so great that it threw me against the seat in front of me. I fell sideways landing on the floor, hitting my head against a seat on the way down.
I laid still and tried to open my eyes, but each time I got them opened, they just closed again. Someone kept saying Avery, Avery open your eyes. After several attempts I managed to keep my eyes opened. A doctor stood before me and introduced himself as Doctor Austin. He said he was there to help me get better. I had a bandage on the left side of my head and one on my left arm.
After being in hospital for several days a woman came into my room one morning and told me I was well enough to go home and I would be released from hospital the next day. She told me I would be going with a woman named Mrs. Murphy and would be taken to my new home in Nags Head.
I spent the night in great turmoil thinking of all the events that had taken place in just one week. I couldn’t understand why I had been taken away from the only home I had ever known. I was told that Ms. Summers, whom I considered my mom, had been taking care of me since I was two years old. My parents died in an automobile accident.
Ms. Summers was a very gentle and soft-spoken woman. She stayed busy cleaning, cooking, and caring for me as well as three other children. Jon was twelve, Ellie fourteen, and Mitchell fifteen. John, Ellie, and Mitchell were living there as long as I could remember. There was a big difference in my age from the others, but we were a close family and enjoyed each others company.
Just a week ago we had all gathered in the kitchen and made plans for my birthday party. We had discussed what kind of cake to have, the decorations to use, and who to invite to the party. I was really looking forward to another one of Ms. Summers cakes. She never used the cake mixes. She made her cakes from scratch and that was the best kind. They were always decorated beautifully and tasted delicious.
A couple of days later, Ms. Summers was rushed to hospital. That day the social service woman, Mrs. Baxter, came to our house. She was tall, thin, and had grey hair. There were large brown spots all over her hands and arms. She never smiled at me. In fact, she acted like I had done something terribly wrong and sternly instructed me to go outside and get in her car. She came out minutes later and told me Ms. Summers had fallen ill and could not take care of me.
“Social Service Center”
I was taken to the Social Service Center and I lived in the temporary housing section for five days. During that time no one spoke of Ms. Summers nor could answer my questions about her health. I was never told what happened to Jon, Ellie, and Mitchell.
There were two older children at the center’s home. They seemed to make a game out of tormenting me when the care taker was not around. It was their delight of the day to pinch me and pull my hair. I complained to the caretaker and they adamantly denied tormenting me.
From then on, the caretaker made it a point to keep me with her doing little chores. She sent the older children outside or to their room to play. They were only at the home a few days before they had been sent to a permanent home to live. I wasn’t sure if they were adopted, as often times happened, or if they went to another foster home.
I was anxiously waiting for Ms. Summers to come pick me up and take me home. I could look down the street from one of the windows of the center and see the cars that drove up to the parking area. Several times a day I would look out the window to see if Ms. Summers blue station wagon had parked in one of the spaces.
The morning of my sixth birthday the caretaker told me I would be leaving the center shortly after breakfast. I was so excited that I gulped my food down and ran to the window so I could see when Ms. Summers drove up. However, the only vehicle I saw drive up was Mrs. Baxter’s. Several minutes later the caretaker came in the room and told me it was time for me to leave. She told me that I would be leaving with Mrs. Baxter.
Ms. Baxter was as stern with me that morning as she had been the day she brought me to the center. She still did not smile and once again ordered me to go outside and get in her car. I slowly walked to the car and Mrs. Baxter followed me with my suitcase in her hand.
Mrs. Baxter drove in silence and I did not dare break that silence! I just sat back and thought about what I was going to do when I got home. I was sure since it was my birthday that the day would be spent helping Ms. Summers get ready for my birthday party.
Much to my dismay, we did not go to my house. Mrs. Baxter had driven to the bus station. I was wondering why, when she finally broke her silence and told me she was going to buy me a bus ticket and I would be riding to a place called Nags Head, N.C.
My eyes must have looked as big as saucers because she quickly told me to stay calm and pay attention. She said I was going to my new home in a town called Nags Head, N.C. and the bus driver would see to it that I got there safely.
Before being released from hospital, Doctor Austin came into my room and examined me once again to make sure I was well enough to leave. He told me That Mrs. Murphy was waiting outside the room and she would be taking me to my new home in Nags Head.
I met Mrs. Murphy in the hallway and she had the sweetest smile I had seen in days. Her eyes were ice blue and she had very long eyelashes. Her hair was golden blond and fell to her shoulders. She spoke softly and said she had been anxiously waiting to meet me, and was glad that I was recovering from my injuries. She took me into a small room with a couple of tables and chairs, a drink machine, and a snack machine. She bought me a cup of hot chocolate and a small bag of cookies. She got herself a cup of coffee and then sat at one of the tables with me.
I was distraught after learning that I would have to continue my journey to Nags Head, but felt a sense of relief just knowing that Mrs. Murphy would be the one taking me there. She told me I could ask her any questions that I wanted to and she would answer them as well as explain to me what to expect in the coming days.
I learned that Ms. Summers was still very ill, but would recover, however, she would never be physically capable of taking care of me anymore. Also she could not take care of Jon, Ellie, or Mitchell. They had been sent to another foster home.
The home that I was going to was in Nags Head, NC. and it was across the road from the beach. I would have a foster mother and dad. Their names were Alex and Marie Branson. They had one child of their own who was eight years old and his name was Ethan. I would be the only foster child the Branson’s would care for and they were anxiously waiting for me to arrive.
Mrs. Murphy drove with great care. She did not try to engage me into any conversation, but merely let me sit back and contemplate on all the things that had happened in the past week and sort out my feelings.
I sat in silence as I looked out the window and wondered what my life would be like living with the Branson’s. I felt drained of energy, sad, and apprehensive. I was grateful that Mrs. Murphy had been so nice to me and explained everything to me.
As we arrived in Nags Head, I was able to look between the houses and see the ocean. It was a beautiful sunny day and the waves were rolling up to the shore with large white peaks and making a big splash. I felt a sudden urge to run out to the water and enjoy the splashing water. I could imagine the cool water on my body and the wet sand gushing between my toes.
I was so occupied with my fantasy run on the beach that I did not hear Mrs. Murphy when she told me we had arrived. All of a sudden the car turned and the ocean disappeared from my view. We had turned in a driveway that led to a sparkling white house with dark blue shutters. It had a covered porch that wrapped half way around the house.
As the car came to a stop I saw three people coming out of the house. The man was very tall and he had black hair. The woman was walking beside him and she was trying to keep the wind from blowing her long blond hair in her face. The boy looked about my size and was running toward the car.
Mrs. Murphy and I got out of the car and were greeted with smiles and opened arms. It felt wonderful being welcomed with such joy. Ethan took my hand and said he had something to show me. As we entered the house I saw six boys waving little flags that had the words Happy Birthday on them . Then, everyone in the room sang Happy Birthday to me. There was a huge birthday cake on the table and several beautifully wrapped presents. The room was decorated with brightly colored balloons with long flowing streamers of ribbon.
THAT DAY WAS THE BEGINNING OF A NEW LIFE FOR ME. IN A MATTER OF MONTHS, ALEX AND MARIE BRANSON ADOPTED ME. ETHAN AND I WERE ALMOST INSEPARABLE. WE HAD THE SAME INTERESTS AND EVEN ATTENDED THE SAME COLLEGE. HE IS NOW A DOCTOR OF GYNECOLOGY AND OBSTETRICS AND I AM A DOCTOR OF PEDIATRICS.
Copyright © 2015 Written by Jessie Cross ~ All rights reserved