Following Nina’s and Lea’s adoptions, Daniel, Fritz and I agreed that adoption would be a good thing for us. An updated “home study” was completed and an “adoption” social worker was assigned to me. An “adoption” social worker is a social worker only for the adoptive parent. His responsibility is to determine your readiness as a parent to adopt the child or children and to be available for any questions you may have about the process or the child and to be your advocate for the duration of this process. Since Daniel and Fritz had been my foster children for two years and Nina and Lea were adopted, there were few surprises. Brian (my worker) and I had enjoyable visits. During the later part of Brian’s last visit, he became serious. “Anne, now you are a single mother with five children. I think we both should agree that five is a handful and that maybe you should not plan on adopting any more children.”
This was serious. “I agree that five children is a lot for one adult, however, Lea and Ivy are 15 and 16 years old and my parents live across the street. More importantly, now that I am a single mother of 5 children, it is not realistic to think that I can work outside the home if I need additional income. My income is now limited to adoption aid or child support and it is reliable, but fixed. I have a bed for another child and my vocation is parenting. It is what I am best at.” I replied. Brian looked me straight in the eye and said: “OK, let’s agree that you will stop at 6 children. What did you have in mind?” “Girl, African American, between 7 and 12 years old.”
The very next day, Brian called and said he had a few files he would like to drop off. I received 7 files on little girls from 5 to 12 years old. Each of the files had a brief history and a photo. I could not help myself; I spent the rest of the afternoon reading every word about each little girl. I wanted all of them. I could not choose. Up until this time, I had never listed criteria. Children came who needed me and we went from there. Brian called the next day to see if I had reviewed the files. I told him my dilemma. I could not select one child over another. Brian knew we had dinner with my parents almost every evening. He suggested I describe each little girl to the family and let everyone, Granny and Granddad included, participate in this selection. Everyone had something to say.
Nina wanted a big sister, not someone the same age as her (which was 5 years old), my parents thought the little girl who did well in school would be good because she would benefit from our environment and require less assistance with schoolwork. Daniel and Fritz agreed, they did not think I needed to spend any more time helping someone with her homework. Ivy thought the little girl with asthma would have a difficult time with our dogs and cats. Lea didn’t have a preference as long as she was African American, like her. We all agreed we liked Coraline the most.
I called Brian the next day and he was ready to set up a meeting for Coraline and me.
Coralines’ foster home was in a mobile home park for senior citizens. I know it was not a family park because there was not one bicycle, plastic toy or swing set. There were many tiny, perfectly manicured gardens. An elderly woman named “Gladys” answered the door and invited me in. Brian was there. I didn’t see Coraline. I said; “where’s my little girl? Where is Coralline?” A little girl came down the hall that looked like the picture in the file. I looked at her and she gave me the most beautiful smile. She was radiant. “I am Anne, and I know you are Coraline. We are supposed to talk today. OK?” Coraline skipped and jumped to the couch as 8 year old girls frequently do. “I don’t see any toys, games or books here, so I can’t tell what you like to do. What do you like to do?” “I like to read,” replied Coraline. “I will get my book.” She skipped and jumped down the hall and returned with a bible. Coraline did a very good job of reading a psalm to me. Then she left again and returned with a little blue suitcase with a baby doll inside. We talked about other things, her favorite color was blue, her favorite food was fried chicken and she liked fruit also. Gladys asked me if I went to church and if I was “Christian.” It occurred to me that Coraline may have been reluctant to open up in front of Gladys. I told Coraline that there was something I needed to with all children to make sure they were OK. I needed to examine her armpits. She looked very serious and told me that would be all right. I gave her some tickles in her armpits and on her ribs and she laughed and giggled. I said I wanted to come back and take her someplace and she said that would be good. We made a date for later in the week.