31: Home

31: Home

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Home

There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.

~Rosalynn Carter

Has it really been fourteen years since I was placed into the invisible hands of the government? Fourteen years since social services first gained control of my life?

After all this time, I remember it so clearly, as if it were only yesterday. I was eight years old and sitting in a group home waiting patiently for my mom. Unfortunately, she did not return. Three months later, I found myself in a foster home. From that day on, my life became a case file; just a large manila folder held snugly under the arm of a complete stranger.

I learned to accept a foster home as I saw it; a place that I stayed. It was not a home to me but merely a house with four walls and a roof, just a building that social services deemed fit for my living requirements. It was a place that I slept and ate in, but it held nothing for me — no love, no family and no values.

I spent the first five years of foster care envying my friends, secretly wishing for everything that they had. I wanted to know what it felt like to be so loved. I yearned to have a real home. I wanted so much to belong, to know what it was like to not feel like an intruder in somebody else’s home. I ached deeply to not spend each day believing that I owed those people something for accepting me into their house.

At thirteen, right after I spent three months in the hospital for anorexia nervosa, I learned that I would be leaving the foster home that I had been in for the past five years, and I was going to be placed in a new foster home. I really didn’t believe things could get much worse. It felt as though my world was crashing down upon me once more. I cried at the cold realization that my foster family was not going to show me the meaning of “home.”

The tears fell for days as I slowly began to understand. A home in my world was like a fairy tale, a far off place of magical beings and magical events where everything would end in love and happiness. I envisioned a world that could make me feel wonder and fascination, but deep in my heart, I felt like such a place could not truly exist. I had never known “home,” and I suspected that this would always remain the same for me.

I was sent to what they call a relief home after I got out of the hospital. It felt comfortable, and the family was very loving. I felt at ease the moment I stepped within the warm, cozy walls. But I knew I could not get too comfortable, because shortly, I would be sent to my new foster home. Then, when my two weeks in the relief home were nearly up and my anticipation and terror of being sent to a new home were in full force, the world I had come to know changed.

My relief family sat me down at the kitchen table one evening just before bed, and they all looked at me. The mom spoke in gentle, soothing words.

“We know that you have gone through a lot after finding out that you were not returning to your first foster home.” She went on with a quiet breath, “And we don’t want to scare you off, or force you into any decision that you don’t want to make, but we really want you to stay here with us and be a part of our family.”

I stared at her in shock. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The others smiled.

“We want you to think about it. Take as much time as you need.” I nodded and quietly rose from the table and went to the room where I had been staying while I was living there. I put my pajamas on, lay down in bed and silently cried. They weren’t just tears of sadness, but also tears of happiness and tears of relief. A part of my life was ending and now a greater part of my life was about to begin. If I would let it.

Later that night, as my tears finally began to dry, the youngest daughter popped her head into my room. “Are you asleep?” she asked. I shook my head in reply. “Have you made a decision yet?” This time I nodded, and she waited for my answer. Without thinking any more about it, I replied with a quiet “yes.”

“She’s going to stay!” she yelled as she ran out of the room.

I slowly got out of bed and prepared to be welcomed by my new family. I smiled as I walked out the door. For the first time in my life, I felt I belonged. For the first time in my life, I felt comfortable and cared for. For the first time in my life, I was a daughter and a sister. I was finally a normal girl.

For the first time in my life, I truly knew home.

~Cynthia Lynn Blatchford

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