It was a cold February evening. Larry and I were watching television. The kids were playing on the floor. The fireplace was crackling out wonderful soothing sounds. A commercial started playing on the television. In a matter of seconds all five of us were glued to the scene unfolding before our eyes.
The commercial was showing starving children. It was saying how many of these little ones went to bed hungry every night. It showed their little extended bellies. It showed them huddled together to keep warm. It showed their naked little bodies. It went on to say many of the children would not live to grow up. It said many of those children would be dead before we even saw the commercial.
We all started talking about what a nice thing it would be to give to the makers of the commercial. Our family was doing well and could afford to offer some help. We quickly realized we didn’t know much about the organization. It might be one of those things where for every dollar you give only a few cents actually helps a child and the rest goes to administration.
We quickly stopped thinking about sending money. Instead we started talking about how much we had. We lived on a farm with plenty of room, we had a big house, and we had plenty of love in our family. We decided to go in a different direction.
Even though I could no longer bear a child we decided to add another child to our family. We decided to try to adopt.
The following week Larry and I went to the county office in Merced. We met with a social worker, filled out some papers, and were told the steps to adoption. Merced was just starting a program called fos-adopt. It is a program where a child not yet adoptable but needing a foster home could be placed in a home. The theory is when the child becomes adoptable it will not need to be uprooted from the foster home and placed in the adoptive home. At that time the program was just being developed and no child had been placed using it yet.
We were asked if we thought we could foster a child and if the circumstance developed, give up the child. We shared with our social worker we had already been separated, by death, from three of our daughters yet our family flourished.
We were told we’d need to attend parenting classes through the county, then a home study, then a waiting period to get a child. We were told there were so many people wanting kids we’d probably have to wait six months to a year to start the parenting class.
Three days later, while I was cleaning out the freezer, the phone rang! We were scheduled to begin parenting classes the following week. Those classes were very interesting. The reasons people gave for wanting to foster a child ranged from the obvious need for money to a desperate couple in their forties who could not have children. When we went around the circle telling of our families we told we had three children at home. We got some very surprised and angry looks.
The classes went of for six weeks. It was near the end of April when our social worker came to us during the break on the night of the last class. We couldn’t believe our ears when she said she had two little boys that needed to be placed asking if we were interested. The boys were four and six years old.
We were leaving for Disneyland the following weekend. She asked us to think about the boys over the weekend and call her the following week. We talked about the boys every time we were alone. One of the criteria we had agreed on was that our youngest, Adam, would remain the same in the age order of any new additions. In other words a new child would need to be younger than Adam. Adam was five.
We met with the social worker the following week. We told her we were going to stand by our original decision to keep Adam’s place in the family.
In August we were asked if we’d take a group of three siblings. There was a girl seven years old and two younger brothers. This time we happened to be going to Santa Cruz the coming weekend. Again our worker told us to talk it over. Again we had a happy but anxious vacation with the kids. We took long walks on the beach and talked of all the possibilities. I remember watching Larry kicking in the sand as if an answer would appear. It didn’t. We thought, we considered, and we prayed.
Again when we met with our worker the following week we declined. She made the comment she wasn’t sure if we wanted Adam older than just boys or girls also. We apologized. We felt badly for the kids but our first concern had to be our kids at home. We asked if the fact we had declined two offers would stop us from getting more offers. She laughed and said no. She said it showed we were a strong family and probably put us even higher on the list of parents to pursue.