My cell phone rang at 9 o’clock last night. Three siblings had been taken from their home and were being placed in foster care for the first time. I was asked to take the 5 year old girl to a foster home that was about an hour away. I got to the office as fast as I could and met with the case worker to get my instructions and meet the kid. The girl was pretty distraught when I told her she wasn’t going with her brothers. It took me some time to collect her stuff and get her into the car seat as she pleaded with me to take her brothers too.
She was crying really hard as we drove away and nothing I did seemed to help. The first time she stopped long enough to catch her breath I just started asking some innocent questions like how old she was, did she like animals, what grade was she in, etc. She seemed to like talking about pets the most so I stuck with that thought for the next few minutes as I told her all about the menagerie that lives at my house. (My wife would give Noah a run for his money if I would let her.) Kids are always interested in something, you just have to figure out what it is and keep talking to keep them distracted from their bigger problems.
About half way to our destination I got another call to turn around and go back for the 2 boys as they were now going to the same home for the night. This was cause for an instant celebration for the girl but it also meant I was going to be out that much later. I was just happy that they were all going to be kept together on their first night away from home. I can’t even fathom how tough it must be for little kids to be taken from their home and relocated to another place far away while strangers pass them along. I give extra credit to all the families who take these kids into their homes and try their best to make them feel safe and secure. I just deliver children, which is easy compared to what foster parents have to deal with.
Having all 3 kids in the car was a challenge. The boys were all hands and played with every part of the car. We battled over open windows and door locks until finally I had to pull over in a parking lot and make the necessary adjustments to get them under control. After that they just wouldn’t be quiet and asked me a million barely intelligible questions. Under these circumstances I resort to the only alternative I can think of, I play music and sing along with it. Last night I had my James Taylor CD in the stereo and it was absolutely perfect for this crowd. They kept talking but grew quieter with each new song and they seemed surprised that I was singing to them.
When we got to “You’ve got a friend”, it just spoke to me so deeply.
When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, whoa nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest nights.
You just call out my name,
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby
To see you again.
Winter, spring , summer, or fall,
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.
You’ve got a friend.
I’ve always loved this song but at that moment it helped me understand the importance of what I do for these kids. I know I’m not changing the world in any major way but if I can provide safe transportation for kids to get to a better place then I’ve done something that matters and I get to feel really good about that. All I have to do is drive and put up with their rowdy behavior for an hour or so. Along the way I sing songs and try to entertain them in any way I can just to make them less scared. Life is hard when you’re a kid in foster care and all I want them to remember about me is this, “You’ve got a friend.”
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.