See the next to last day of 5th grade I was woken up rather hastily by Big Sister #2 right before she got onto the bus for the day. She dragged me into the bathroom and closed and locked the door. She had an urgent look on her face, a look of worry and fear, I thought I was in trouble and she was trying to warn me before the evil egg donor got ahold of me. Instead, in whispers I could barely heard she said:
"Someone is coming to your school today to pick you up, you don't know her but you are to go with her. She may have a police officer with her, but do not be afraid! Go with them no matter what and she will bring you to me, just remember you MUST go with her!"
I remember the words like it was yesterday, I was confused but she said no more. She simply unlocked the door and ran out to meet the buss calling over her shoulder, "Don't forget, I'll see you after school" I got dressed and headed off to school. I was the only one in the family still in the elementary school. Big Sis was 3 years older than me and had her last year there 2 years prior. She was now a Jr. High student riding the bus with Big Brother #3 and Big Sister #2. I was all alone walking to school but I didn't mind. I enjoyed the quiet time I had while walking that mile, looking at nature, getting lost in my thoughts until I arrived at the place where I was the weird kid because I wore glasses and was so shy I had trouble talking to kids I had known all my life. That day was going to be a good day though, Mr. Hutchinson would have us all washing desks and cleaning the blackboard. We would get to smash the erasers against the wall outside, making chalk dust fly into clouds of yellow dust. It would be a fun day ending in planning field day for the next day, the last day of 5th grade. We would get our "Welcome to 6th grade" letters from the older kids and get to hear all about what 6th grade was all about.
But alas, all that was not to be. I found myself hearing my sisters words in my mind, looking at the classroom door, wondering when this strange lady would come for me and WHY she was coming. I went out to recess and played, I remember taking off my sweater and leaving it next to the swings that I so loved to swing in. I always preferred the wooden swings over the rubber ones that hugged your butt because you could stand up in the wooden ones so much better. Jumping out of the swing from standing was way more fun so i preferred those. After recess we went back in and finished cleaning out our desks, washing them inside and out with soapy water. We threw away our trash and old papers, made paper airplanes and flew them around because we could get away with it for that day. Mr Hutchinson was cool like that, he let us get away with more at the end of the year. It was shortly before the end of the day when I saw the lady with long brown hair stop at our classroom door. She spoke quietly to Mr Hutchinson who called me over to the door. He quietly told me to get the stuff I was taking with me, I had to go with Ms. Wheatley. I remember my heart feeling like it was stopping, would I see my friends again, would I get the chance to say good-bye? I remembered my sweater and told them I needed to run out and get it, Mr. Hutchinson told me that would be fine. I ran out the back door that was open to the playground, then began walking slowly, feeling I needed to take this time to remember this playground. I had a feeling I might not get to be on it again and so I slowed to a crawl and remembered the fun times I had there. Remembered making the giant class snowman that was as tall as our teacher and took the entire class to build. I remembered laying int the field with my best friends watching clouds go by overhead. I remembered when they put in that ice rink in the middle of the front so we could have more to do at recess in the winter months and I remembered swinging and singing with my friends. I sat on the wooden swing for a moment, thinking about what my future held, and although I had no idea what was happening or where I was going, I somehow knew I would not be returning here. I held it in my heart for a moment more, grabbed my sweater off the ground and returned to the classroom ready to face whatever was in store for me. I packed my bag and I walked out of the classroom between this lady and a police officer, my class quietly watching as I walked away. I didn't get to say good-bye to my very best friend, the thought made me sad. I asked the nice lady if I could come back the next day for field day, she said we would see...I think she was just trying not to upset me anymore than I already was. I was put into the backseat of a police car, the lady got into the front with the policeman and we drove away.
As we rode in the car, I remember her turning around to ask me if I knew why they had come, why I was with her. I told her all I knew was that Big Sister #2 told me to go with her and I was just doing what I was told. She explained that she was a social worker for the state of Vermont and that she was there to take me away. I asked if I had done something wrong, afterall the evil egg donor had told me numerous times that children who disrespected their mothers could be sent to jail by their parents and she often threatened to call the cops and have me sent to jail if I didn't do as I was told. The nice lady told me no, I was fine, it was the evil egg donor who was bad and she was there to protect me.
We drove to the high school where we went to the 7th grade english teachers classroom. There were grammar posters on the walls and desks all lined up, Ms. Wheatley told me to have a seat and she was going to go to the office and make sure the others remembered to report there as well. The teacher came in and offered to sit with me while Ms. Wheatley went to the office. Turns out, that lady was to be my temporary foster mother until they could find a home for all 4 of us minor children. Big Sis was the first to arrive, she hugged me and told me everything was going to be fine. She was always the strong one, the one I looked up to most and seemed to actually care about me and my feelings. I knew she could tell how scared I was and she was trying to help me feel better. Big Brother #3 came second, he was more quiet and did not hug me, barely even said a word. Big Sister #2 arrived last with Ms. Wheatley. We all packed into the english teachers mini-van and went to her house. They had a small house, but they had a swing in the back yard, the teacher told me to feel free to go use it while the grown-ups talked. I remember thinkking that Big Sister #2 was not a grown up but yet she got to join in on the conversation. I asked who was going to take me to school for my last day....I got the same "we'll see" answer as I was shoo'ed out the door.
I spent one night at the english teachers house, then we moved to a new house, one that already had like 15 kids. We had to be placed somewhere where the egg donor didn't know where we were, we were hidden away...I never did get back for field day or to get my report card or anything :( It made me sad to have missed out on the most fun day at school! I rode a borrowed rusty bike around dirt roads, always within visual range of the house because I had to be seen by the mother at all times. If the egg donor happened to find us we could get stolen by her or hurt by her, so we had to stay where we could be seen and protected until we went to court. That's where I had my first bad biking accident, the bike I was given to ride was a 10 speed and I had never riden one of those before...I didn't know the brakes were on the handles and not in the pedals like my old bike. I crashed, got a pebble stuck...and I do mean stuck...in my elbow. The bone stpped the rock from going any deeper actually. I still have a scar from that...the spot is dead actually, can't feel a thing there! Day 3 we went to court, that's when things got really weird!
Court was not like you see on TV, I was introduced to this weird old man and was told he was to be my representative. I would tell him whatever I wanted the judge to know and he would speak for me. He and I went off together and he asked all kinds of questions about the egg donor and I told him somethings, but I was still under the impression she would beat the crap out of me if I told anything really big so most I didn't dare speak about. Lucky for me the older kids had no such problems or confussion and they spoke out about everything. The egg donor swore up and down that she did nothing wrong, she never laid a hand on us, she did nothing but love us. The judge asked me a couple questions and then my rep questions and then we were dismissed. Each of us had to face the egg donor on our own with our own reps, it was kind of nice to be heard, to have someone want to hear my side and to not be shut up by older siblings. Someone cared about my opinion, it was really quite nice. The judge took our side and ordered us removed for at least 6 months. We were all to attend therapy with child psychologists weekly and see him again in 6 months time. The egg donor was supposed to get therapy too and was allowed supervised visitation rights only if the children wanted it...I wanted nothing to do with her now that I was free of her. Every week she tried to visit me but everytime she showed up for a visit I would be off on my bike somewhere and I would not return until her car was gone. If she happened to see me she would only beg me to love her and give her a hug, I was repulsed by her and wanted nothing more than to get away.
I went into foster care when I was 11 years old, in the 7 years of foster care I was in 7 different homes. Some were group homes, some were only temporary, some just didn't work out because I couldn't get along with the mother who tried too hard to make me visit with the evil egg donor. I was angry that noone seemed to want to listen to me, it was all about older sister #2 and how wonderful she was. No one seemed to care that I had been molested, or that I had been hurt by the men i the house, only that older sister #2 had. I bottled it all up inside and quickly became a very angry girl. I began to drink hard alcohol, anything I could get my hands on, I continued to smoke. I cried a lot and fought a lot, it was not an easy adjustment to make. Once I told them about the molestation they were shocked that I too had suffered more tha just physical abuse from the egg donor. They hadn't known...personally i think they were just so wrapped up in big sister #2 that they didn't notice me suffering in the shadows.
I did struggle with a lot of the anger and frustration that first year of foster care. It really wasn't all that great. Most the foster mothers were all about helping big sister #2 and then Big Sis then me. I was an after thought...as usual. I was given lists of chores to do while big sister #2 was allowed to go out on a date. I began to feel like cinderella. Big Sis often rebelled and just didn't do her chores, she would take off in the early morning hours with her friends and not return till late, I often did her chores for her so she wouldn't get into trouble. I lived in the mind-set that we would be in big trouble if we didn't do as we were told....all because of how we were raised. I was forced to take swimming lessons with little 4 and 5 year olds because I was a beginner and had a major fear of water, I stopped going after I learned the basics and was graduated to intermediate lessons. I simply refused to take more lessons with little kids half my age who laughed at me like I was some kind of retard for not knowing how to swim at 11 years old. I was forced to play with other kids my age who I could tell wanted nothing more than to be with their friends that they knew all their lives, they certainly didn't want to hang out with some new weird kid who was so shy it was painful. I can't blame them, I wanted nothing more than to be hiding in my room, doing nothing but listening to music and reading a book. I didn't want to make new friends, I was far too shy for such a thing. I survived foster care, but it wasn't a ride in the park!
And so I remember because I can't forget. My world changed, I was saved from the abuse and on my next to last day of 5th grade I met my first day of healing. here I am almost 30 years later wondering when the pain will stop fully, when will it get to a point that I remember but it doesn't hurt anymore. Something tells me that in another 30 years I'll still be wondering.
And so ends another Thoughtful Thursday! Enjoy your beginning of summer, enjoy your kids and enjoy your life. Wake up with a smile in your heart and know that your kids are your most precious gifts ever!
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