This is the winning story of the 2011 icanhasgrace contest. Watch the commute cam interview here.
I have worked with children in foster care for over 15 years. I have seen hundreds of children come and go through our system. Some are good stories…and some are horrible stories. All of our kids in foster care have come from broken homes, drug addicted parents, physically, emotionally or sexually abused. Some children are just abandoned…. no family, no relatives, nobody. The good part of what my unit does as well as me over the years is we find adoptive families for those kids who can’t go home. That in itself is rewarding.
But the one kid that I will ALWAYS remember the most and to this day if I tell this story to somebody, I get teary eyed.
I am changing the name to protect the confidentiality, but this is a story about Alex. Alex was 4 years old when his Grandmother walked into our office with a small suitcase with 3 outfits in it. She said she wasn’t able to care for Alex any more. She was too old and he was too much work. She reported that the birth mother was addicted to cocaine and was transient and lived somewhere up north. She hadn’t seen the Birth mother in over 3 years. The grandmother said no other family was fit to take Alex. She patted him on the head and said, go with the lady! He looked up at us and reached out his hand. He is a sweet bi-racial little boy, big brown eyes, soft curls that fell naturally all over his head. He had a blanket in his hand that looked like he had this for a long time. He held onto it so tight.
The grandmother didn’t look back. She just walked out. Alex watched her leave. No tears, just a blank stare.
I was his case worker. I was just taken in by this little guy. He was so sweet and tiny. He didn’t talk really well. He still wasn’t completely potty trained. We initially placed him with one of our older foster mothers. She is a “grandmotherly” type. She was perfect for Alex. She helped him get potty trained. She helped him with his speech and got him to where he could communicate better.
It was about 8 months later, when the court finally was able to grant this child free for adoption. I soon went about finding him a forever family.
I went through several studies and finally picked a family that I thought would be perfect for Alex. I had asked Alex what kind of family did he want to live in forever? He said ” I want a Mommy and a Daddy. I want a dog and a little sister.” “That’s all!”
I found that family. This family was a multicultural family. Hispanic and white couple with one birth child, a little girl who was 2 years old. They also had a dog. Before this family was introduced to Alex, I wanted him to see pictures of this family and where he might go to live. The family made me a photo album to show him his room, his bed, his dog! Also his back yard, his new sister, his cousins and even his school he would go to. They even took pictures of the soccer team he could join if he wanted. I sat with Alex and went through the book. He stared at every picture, soaking it all in. He kept asking this could be my family? I said yes, if you visit them and like them and they like you, then yes this could be your family. He looked up at me and had tears in his eyes. He hugged me and said I love them. Can I see them today? It was all I could do to not cry with him.
The next day the family came to the foster home where Alex lived. Alex was upstairs taking a nap when they got there. The Mom and Dad were sitting in the living room with a coloring book and crayons. I went upstairs and sat on the side of Alex’s bed and woke him up. He sleepily opened his eyes and I said I have the family here that wants to meet you. You want to come downstairs and meet them? He sat up and said “yes!” He then stopped and held my hand really tight and said I’m scared. I told him I would be there the whole time. If he didn’t feel right, just to ask to see me in the other room and we could stop the visit. He said “o.k.”.
We walked downstairs. We walked into the living room. Alex was standing behind me peeking around my legs. The Mom and Dad stood up and came over and said Hi to Alex. Alex looked up at the Dad. Funny, but the Dad looked like Alex. Same round head and big brown eyes. A smile that lit up the room. The Dad gave him the coloring book. He asked Alex could they color together. So they got on the floor and began to color. The Mom was kneeling down next to Alex and her husband. She turned around to me with tears rolling down her face. She said ” He is so beautiful. ” She said, I already love him. Of course, I’m crying, she is crying, the foster mom is crying….. Alex looks up and says what is wrong, There is nothing to be sad about, I have my new Mom and Dad now. Let’s be happy! He started laughing.
This adoption went through perfectly. Alex has his little sister who he takes care of like a great big brother. He has his dog, that sleeps at the end of his bed every night. He joined the soccer team and the first game, scored the most goals. Alex finally found a home.
All of this is a sign of grace to me. Pure love, no judging, patient and forgiving. Alex could have been one of those kids angry at the world for being abandoned. But he was one of those kids with forgiveness and love in his heart.
I always think back to this adoption as one of my best memories. My little guy with a little suitcase with 3 outfits and an old blanket. I still keep in touch with Alex. He is in college now.