This picture from 1984 sums up my country bumpkin life in rural Amanda, Ohio in the 80’s. My parents were still married, my sister and I still spoke, we played outside a lot and there was, for a time, a string of foster children in and out of our modest ranch style brick home. While many often weren’t with us for very long and some so brief I can’t even recall their names now, a few stayed quite some time like the little red-headed toddler in this picture, Christina, and became a part of our family.
I still get misty eyed thinking about the baby we raised named Austin. If I remember right, he was nearly a week old when he came to us and we got to name him. When he left us, it was like losing a true sibling. That was my brother! We held him, fed him, cuddled him and loved him. Same with Christina… when she left us, the house was suddenly quiet and devoid of little giggles that you didn’t think you’d miss. Things were just different after they were gone. While I’ve never asked because I think I shouldn’t “stir the pot,” I believe that having to give them back was really hard on my mom and dad.
It’s a really hard thing as a child to appreciate what my parents were trying to do a good and decent thing for these children who were taken from horrible situations. But as an adult, mom and grandmother now, I read about children suffering and my heart breaks. I sincerely applaud those who take on the responsibility of giving these children help, safe shelter, clothing and food when they need it most. As I work on my genealogy, I half wonder if there shouldn’t be a space for Austin or Christina on my tree and my thoughts have strayed into wondering where these kids are now, what their lives were like when they left us and if they have families of their own now. Do they ever remember us? Did we make an impression on them like they did to us?