*the unedited rantings of a fat 43 year old menopausal ex -talk show host * -married mother of four- read at your own risk - my spelling sux (add * ocd * adhd * lmnop * suv * dvd * y not me)

4/22/2005

GAY FOSTER MOM

IN 1998
I SPENT THE SUMMER IN MIAMI
RELAXING AFTER
WHAT SOME WOULD CALL
A BREAKDOWN
PANICKED & DESPERATE - SPIRITUALLY SEARCHING
THE DARKNESS HAD RETURNED

DON’T WATCH THE NEWS
IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED

IN A TINY ONE BEDROOM APARTMENT
IN LITTLE HAVANA
A FIVE YEAR OLD GIRL WAS BRUTALLY RAPED
BY A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD “FRIEND OF THE FAMILY”
THE CHILD'S MOTHER SLEPT THROUGH THE WHOLE INCIDENT
IN THE NEXT ROOM - SIX FEET AWAY
THE BABY HAD BEEN BEATEN
HER TEETH BROKEN - HER BODY RIPPED

THE REPORTER DID NOT GIVE THE CHILDS NAME
DID NOT SHOW HER FACE
YET SHE HAUNTED ME

I THOUGHT OF HER DAILY
KNOWING THERE WAS A REASON
SHE RESONATED WITHIN
ONE I COULD NOT YET SEE

A MONTH LATER
MY TWO YEAR OLD DAUGHTER GOT SICK
I CALLED A DOCTOR - WHO CAME TO THE HOUSE
HE WAS KIND AND CHATTY
FULL OF BAD JOKES
HE TOLD ME HE WORKED OUT OF CHILDRENS HOSPITAL
WHERE - I REMEMBERED
THIS YOUNG GIRL WAS BEING TREATED

I ASKED IF HE KNEW OF HER
HE SAID HE DID - SHE WAS IN BAD SHAPE
I ASKED HIM IF I COULD VISIT HER
HE WASN'T SURE, BUT HE WOULD TRY TO ARRANGE IT

HE DID

I WAS ALLOWED TO MEET HER
TWO WEEKS LATER
AT THE GLADSTONE CENTER
A HOME SEXUALLY ABUSED GIRLS
I AGREED TO VISIT THE GIRLS AS A GROUP
WITHOUT SHOWING ANY SPECIAL INTEREST IN THIS ONE CHILD
I STILL DID NOT KNOW HER NAME

THE NIGHT BEFORE MY VISIT
I SAW THE HANDCUFFED MOTHER ON TV
BEING LED INTO COURT
HEAVY - ANGRY - DETACHED AND SCARY
THE NEWS ANCHOR SAID SHE WAS NOT COOPERATING WITH THE POLICE
I HATED HER

THE MORNING ARRIVED
I FELT SICK
I HAD BEEN TO PLACES LIKE GLADSTONE BEFORE
THIS TIME FELT DIFFERENT

THE GLADSTONE CENTER IS DIFFICULT TO FIND
IT IS COMPLETELY HIDDEN BEHIND A CHURCH
OFF A MAIN ROAD
WITH ONLY A SMALL WOODEN SIGN WHISPERING THE WAY
I WALKED DOWN THE PEBBLE FILLED DRIVEWAY
TOWARD THE ONE STORY CEMENT BLOCK BUILDING
TINY COLORED WILD FLOWERS FOUGHT THEIR WAY
THRU THE GRAY GREEN TANGLE OF WEEDS
A BURST OF BLUE - THE HUE OF HOPE

I INTRODUCED MYSELF TO THE STAFF
AWKWARDLY
I WANTED TO THANK THEM
BUT DID NOT

I WAS BRIEFED
THEN ESCORTED TO THE THERAPY ROOM
TWENTY GIRLS - AGED 5 TO 17
WERE SITTING IN A CIRCLE

TRYING TO CONJURE UPON THEIR FACE
THE EMOTION WRITTEN ON THE CARD
IN THE THERAPISTS HAND
HAPPY - CONCERNED - SHY - SAD - ANGRY

THERAPISTS DETERMINED TO RECONNECT THE CUT WIRES
INSIDE THE HEARTS AND HEADS OF THESE KIDS
TO PULL THEM BACK FROM THE ABYSS

I WAS INTRODUCED
SOME GIRLS WERE EXCITED TO SEE ME
OTHERS TOTALLY DISINTERESTED
THEY ALL HAD QUESTIONS

”YOU IN THE FLINTSTONE MOVIE?”
“DID YOU COME IN A LIMO?”
“YOU LIVE IN A MANSION?”
“WHY YOU HERE SEEING US ANYWAY?”

I TOOK A BREATH
I TOLD THEM I WAS THERE BECAUSE I WAS ONE OF THEM
BECAUSE I WANTED THEM TO KNOW THEY HAD VALUE
THAT THERE WERE MANY ADULTS LIKE ME
WHO ONCE WERE KIDS LIKE THEM

I TOLD THEM TO BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES
TO KNOW THERE WERE MORE GOOD PEOPLE THAN BAD
THAT THERE WERE GROWN UPS
WILLING TO FIGHT FOR THEM
TO PROTECT THEM - TO LOVE THEM
I WAITED FOR A RESPONSE......

THEY ASKED IF I KNEW RICKY MARTIN

DURING THE Q AND A I SPOTTED HER
THE GIRL FROM THE NEWS STORY
NOONE POINTED HER OUT - I JUST KNEW
SHE WAS HARD TO MISS
LANKY - BEAUTIFUL AND OBVIOUSLY SUFFERING
WITH A ROUND FACE - BROWN HAIR AND HUGE EYES
SHE BOUNCED IN AND OUT OF THE ROOM
ON AND OFF OF CHAIRS AND LAPS
SHE WAS MANIC BUSY

SHE PAID NO ATTENTION TO ME
FOR MOST OF MY STAY
SHE WAS OUT OF THE ROOM

MY VISIT WAS WINDING DOWN
I TOOK A POLARIOD WITH EACH GIRL
AND GAVE EACH A BEANIE BABY

AS I STARTED TO LEAVE
SHE WALKED BACK IN THE ROOM
THE STUFFED ANIMALS CAUGHT HER EYE
EVERY KID HAD ONE
SHE ASKED - IN SPANISH - IF THERE WAS ONE FOR HER
THERE WAS
SHE CHOSE ONE - CUDDLED IT - AND LOOKED UP AT ME
AFTER A MOMENT - ASKED IF I WANTED TO SEE HER ROOM
I GLANCED AT THE THERAPIST
WAITING FOR APPROVAL
SHE NODDED

THE BABY/CHILD PUT HER TINY HAND IN MINE
AND LED ME DOWN THE HALL
THE LAST ROOM WAS HERS
OLD WOOD BUNK BEDS - A SMALL DRESSER AND A DESK

SHE PUT THE BEANIE BABY I GAVE HER
BESIDE TWO OF HER OWN
HER DOCTOR GAVE HER THOSE - SHE TOLD ME PROUDLY

THE ONE WHO STICHED HER UP - I THOUGHT

ONE BEANIE BABY WAS A DOG
THE OTHER TWO BEARS WITH CLOSED EYES AND FOLDED PAWS
SHE TOLD ME THE BEARS MOMMY WAS DEAD
SO THE BEAR WAS VERY SAD
YES - I TOLD HER - THE BEAR MUST BE SAD
SHE GAVE A NON CHALANT NOD

I GAVE HER THE EXTRA BEANIE BABIES

WHEN WE WERE LEAVING
I ASKED IF I COULD TAKE A PICTURE OF US
FOR ME TO KEEP
SHE SAID YES AND WE POSED TOGETHER

SHE STARTED TO WALK AWAY
I DID NOT WANT HER TO GO
I SAID IN BAD HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH
“I HAVE A GIFT FOR YOU.”

SHE LOOKED CONFUSED
HOLDING THE BEANIE BABIES UP FOR ME TO SEE -
TO REMIND ME - I HAD ALREADY GIVEN HER SOMETHING

I REACHED INTO MY POCKET
AND HANDED HER A SMALL WHITE STONE
THE KIND YOU GET AT NATURE STORES
POLISHED AND INSCRIBED
ON THIS ONE
ONE WORD - LOVE

“QUANDO TU MIRA ES, ENTIENDES TE QUIERRO”
WHEN YOU SEE THIS - KNOW I LOVE YOU

SHE LOOKED AT THE STONE - SMILED
HUGGED ME AND WALKED TOWARDS THE DOOR
SHE STOPPED
AND WITH A LONGING BACKWARD GLANCE
ASKED MY NAME
IT HAD BEEN A WHILE SINCE ANYONE ASKED MY NAME

RO - I TOLD HER
SHE NODDED AND POINTED TO HER CHEST
KASSANDRA - SHE SAID
I NODDED
SHE WALKED AWAY

THAT DAY
I FILLED OUT THER FORMS
TO BECOME A FOSTER PARENT
IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA

STARTED THE PROCESS
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEGUN
LONG AGO

ON THAT DAY
I FORGAVE MYSELF
FOR CRIMES THAT WERE NEVER MY OWN
AND VOWED TO SAVE
AS MANY AS I COULD
AND IN DOING DO
SAVED MYSELF

GAY FOSTER PARENT
ME