And then there were the older kids. We didn’t have many, but they were memorable. While I was studying for the bar exam, my parents took in 6-year-old Lavar, who had been confined to the hospital for almost four years of his life. He came with a tracheotomy, but he was as solid as a tank. He rammed into you so hard he could knock you over – and that was when he wanted a hug.
My mom was good with the kind and gentle children, but she wasn’t naturally attracted to the rough and tough kids. I was attracted to the 6-year old football player with an afro, who had to put his finger over his trach to eek out raspy words. The boy who carried around an oxygen tank with a 100-foot cord so he could move and play. That relationship worked out well for us.
There always seemed to be at least one of us in the family who was perfectly suited for the personality of each child. I was living with my grandmother only a few miles away, but I made it a point to have a relationship with Lavar and when he was hospitalized right before Christmas, I used my newly acquired legal skills and knowledge to fight for his right to visit his mom on Christmas Day. I’m not sure what ridiculous things I surely said, but he got to go home for the day and I felt like I was following in my parents’ footsteps as an advocate for the best interest of the child – even when it didn’t match protocol, the rules, or what the world thought. That trait has come in handy over the years.
And no one can forget Fini. She won’t let you. She’s the star of every social event. When she was born to poverty stricken parents in South Alabama, she had tetrology of fallott (three heart and lung defects). She was in and out of hospitals for much of her first two years of life.
She suffered from brain damage that left us uncertain about her future. Never afraid of the challenge and always deeply committed – my parents hardly flinched. After working with her parents for almost two-years to get her back home, Fini’s parents decided to allow my parents to adopt her.
Now my 23-year-old dark-skinned little sister – her simple mind and big heart have done more to change, inspire, and soften the heart of my father than any other person on earth. She will always need my parents. But the truth is – they need her too.
Yep. It must be gain, because I’m now 49-years-old and ultimately, not much has changed in my life. There were a few gap years in between the time I grew up as a foster sibling and the time my husband and I became foster/adoptive parents. At first glance, it looks as though my life took me in a totally different direction from the one I lead now – but God knew what I needed to accomplish to be useful to Him!