The first time my wife, Ann, and I met our foster son, Troy, we were nervous, and why not? We wished to make a good impression. Our children were grown up and this young man of ten needed a temporary home.
"Well, Mr. and Mrs. Here he is, Troy," The Children's Aid worker said, looking around the room, smiling.
"Hello," Troy, my wife and I said, almost sounding like a Sunday church choir. You can definitely tell it's the first time we see each other. "Hi," I said, shaking Troy's hand, trying not to crunch any finger bones.
"Troy, my name is Ann." It was my wife's turn to do her welcoming which consisted of a mushy hug.
"I like that," Troy said. "Only my mom ever hugged me before. Hey, some of your hair got stuck in my mouth."
Oh-Oh, I thought. This is not a shy boy. His glasses almost jiggled on his shining face, as he beamed large teeth at us. He just stared, sort of a sideways look, pretending to look at the Teddy Bear poster on the wall, but really checking us out.
He was only ten, but had a history of tantrums, lying and at times needed his ADHD medication increased.
"I'm always blamed for starting those fights at school," he said. "I didn't do them all!" he suddenly yelled. Then Troy rubbed both hands together and giggled, as if he were on the verge of telling a private joke.
"Troy. When are those notes from your teacher going to stop?" the Social Worker asked.
"Aw, mom wears herself out worrying about me," he answered. "Mom...I told her over and overI'm sorry. She couldn't come today, she felt so bad. Well, it serves her right. I'm the one who has to go to a foster home. Mom said she couldn't handle me anymore. It's not fair."
Both Ann and I had been given all his background. And the psychological assessment stated, "Firm and loving foster parents are needed." And we felt we had the necessary desire and skills. After all we did raise four children, including three boys.
"Did you tell them aboutyou know?" he asked, dropping his head. "I'm too shy to say peeing in bed. I already told my mother I'll try harder not to."
"Yes Troy, we discussed it," the Social Worker quickly answered. "You know, he has made a lot of improvements these past two months since he went to live with his aunt and uncle."
"And I won't eat all the sweets in the house," Troy said, trying to be funny. "And I'll try to work things out. Maybe I can change so mom will take me back."
His records stated he was a brilliant boy. And liked to hear himself talk. We listened.
"I remember all that talk-talk between the Children's Aid and my parents. All those nosey questions made mom cry a lot. There was some from me too. Dad always went somewhere else when the cops came to the house. Mom had to do the talking. I know dad didn't want me to go away. I wish he had said something before."
"I see you wear glasses," I said, changing the subject. "You might think this strange, but you look like me when I was your age."
Troy adjusted his glasses. "When I stare at someone eye to eye," he said, "I raise my head a little. Some people say I'm stuck up when I do this. But, I'm not. Your wife sure looks pretty. And you're sort of bald," he giggled.
Now I was smiling. I truly believed this boy would be a welcome person in our home. We moved our chairs closer and asked, "Do you have any friends?" and "Will you listen more at school?
"No friends," he answered quickly. "To the second question, I'll try."
Then our Social Worker asked the big one, "Troy, are you ready to go live today with this family?" We were sure he placed much thought into the question before it came.
"I thought about it when I played computer games at my aunt and uncle's. I thought about it at school last week. And I thought about it when I got in the car to come to the CAS office today. My brother said he hates me because I broke his things every time I got upset. So I have to make things better. I don't want to end up in Training School."
He stared at us after his long speech. It was so beautiful, my wife and I agreed later we felt like clapping. His hands squished together with excitement. And he had a difficult time sitting still waiting for us to say something. We were lost for words, so he continued.
"Yes, I want to go with them. Right now. Today."
We were quite pleased. Yes, we wanted the same thing, since we had already given our decision before this meeting. But then the boy hung his head, as if sad about something. "What's wrong Troy?" we asked "We want you to come live with us."
"I heard Children's Aid kids never go back to their real parents. I don't want to be adopted."
"No Troy, they'll be your foster parents. You'll be their foster son. And after everything works out, you'll go back home." Then the Children's Aid worker added, "Promise." She soon left the room to give us some privacy.
As we exchanged hugs Troy wiped moisture from his eyes. "I'm not crying," he said defiantly, "just cleaning my face."
Then lifting his chin, asked, "Instead of being your foster son, okay if we just be pals?"
"Promise," my wife and I said together.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2006
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