Child Of My Heart, Audrey's Story (Volume Two)
Truly, A Gift From God
I believe God led Audrey to me. Though she is not mine genetically, she has grown to become my child through experience, sacrifice, hard work and more love than I could have imagined. We have shared a lifetime in ten short years and now we are sharing in the telling of her story. She has read and approved every line which hasn't been easy but she wants her story told. As the story continues to unfold, I hope you, too, will fall in love with her, as I have. She deserves our understanding, our love and our admiration.
Eugenia S. Hunt's work is Copyrighted
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No one has permission to copy or use this article other than for persentation on this Squidoo Website.
Getting To Know You
Our Life Began Together
Within Part II, you will read of Audrey's challenges as a teenager. It is very hard to get through those years, even in print. As you continue to Part III, you will share in her joy of reunification with her siblings. If you miss out on Part III, you will miss out on something very special.
During the first month we had Audrey, we worked very hard to make her feel at home. It was difficult for her, at eleven, to start all over again in a home filled with strangers.
She and I immediately planned a trip together which we called a "get to know you vacation." We drove, just the two of us, to Lake Wales, Florida, for the day. Climbing the hill of walking trails to the top, we visited BOK Tower and the surrounding grounds where I snapped photos of her, some posed and some without her knowledge. She giggled at the squirrels as she fed them, each taking a peanut from her fingertips.
However, when she wasn't aware that I was watching, I could see the sadness fall over her face like a veiled curtain. Regardless of the abuse she had suffered, she missed her family terribly.
A Time To Say Goodbye
As the months passed, she was faced with two court appearances resulting in proceedings for a failed adoption. Once the decision was made, by the judge, that she would not be returning home, she was afforded one last visit with her adoptive family.
One summer afternoon, I transported her to a park in a nearby town where they were to meet. I went for a walk while she, the adoptive family and her counselor sat and talked.
When I returned, she ran to the car and slid in, looking perplexed. She turned to me and said, "That was strange." I asked her what she meant. She answered, "That was the first time my Mommie ever hugged me." I sat there in disbelief for she had been with them since the age of six. How awful it must have been for so small a child to live in a home where they were never hugged until the hug signified goodbye.
After this last visit, she accepted her fate and began to settle down into the routine of family life with us, school and friends.
One night, as I was working in the study, she came to me and wanted to talk. She said she was ready and wanted to tell me about the things that happened with her first adoptive father but couldn't, if I looked at her. So, I stopped what I was doing, had her sit on my lap, turned off the light and closed the door. There in the darkness, she wrapped her arms around my neck, laid her head on my shoulder and recounted those unhappy and frightening moments that she had been forced to face all alone. Once the words were spoken, she seemed satisfied to put the memories behind her with no need to talk of them again. She just needed someone to listen, to believe, and to share and to know that chapter of her life was closed.
The Threshold Of Her Future
Audrey attended our church with us where she accepted Christ and was baptized on Easter Sunday at the age of twelve. Our family and friends attended and our neighbor had a Barbecue by their pool for her after the service.
At this point, she began to ask me if we would adopt her so that she could stay with us. At almost 50 years old, adopting another child after raising four, was not something we had considered when entering the foster care program. However, having fallen in love with this child, I talked it over with my husband and his answer was, "If you feel she needs us then, why not, what's one more?" So, at this point, we began the long process of foster/adoption.
"Child Birth is an act of nature; Adoption is an act of God." Author Unknown
On June 27, 2001, at the age of thirteen, Audrey became our fifth child. The judge who had removed her in the initial proceedings of the failed adoption had moved from family to criminal court. However, Audrey wanted him to proceed over her adoption because he had listened to her and helped her. I contacted his office and the present judge graciously stepped down, allowing Audrey's wish to be granted.
My Third Mommie
Is Three Times The Charm?
Audrey was very excited the day of the adoption, her wonderful giggle escaping time and time again, as we made our way through the halls of the courthouse.
Friends and family were on hand to welcome her into our family.
And, so began our journey into a world we never anticipated and soon found ourselves to be unequipped. We had to learn as we went, praying daily for guidance and strength.There were so many hurdles to jump during the days to follow.
She always called me Jeanie rather than Mom. Though it did bother me, I never insisted she change once we adopted her. My friend asked her once why she didn't call me Mom. The friend explained that she was raised by her grandmother and had always considered her to be her mother. Audrey answered, "I have already called two women Mommie in my life and it just never works out."
When Audrey first came to us, she was very small for her age of almost twelve, weighing seventy-three pounds and only four feet, seven inches tall. She wore a children's size ten. Within the first year with us, she grew very quickly, a full four sizes. It seemed I was always shopping for her. The stress of her life had been so overpowering that her growth had been stunted. As the stress was relieved, her body reacted in a positive way almost immediately.
Beginning A New Life
Still Running From The Past
As you continue to read through the teenage years of Audrey's life, you will most certainly think that you would rather not know these things happened. However, if you will just bear with me, you will find there are reasons for their addition. Teenagers act out after suffering the traumas Audrey suffered as a child both in anger and to test those who "say" they are there for them. But to understand her, you must first hear the entire story. It never ends with a new home but it "does" end and she, too, will rise above it.
The next school year, we removed Audrey from public school and enrolled her in a private Christian school for her ninth grade year. Here, she excelled in her studies, receiving nine credit hours that year, carrying a 3.7GPA for the school year.
However, there were still moments when the world and her past were too much for her. During one of these moments, when she was angry with me, she and a foster teen living in our home rebelled, deciding to run away. At first, I thought it was just to blow off steam and they would come home after she cooled off.
Several hours later, I finally called the authorities, who began to look for them. They had received help and had traveled some fifty miles away to another town where the foster teen had once lived. Of course, we had no way of knowing that in the beginning.
As one week turned into the second, I was devastated and chose not to search myself because, unless Audrey and I had bonded, it would do no good for me to bring her home. Many of these abused children are unable to bond because they are so closed off from relationships with anyone.
Finally, one afternoon, I had a message waiting for me on my answering machine when I returned home. Audrey said, "I don't want to come home yet but I wanted you to know I am okay so you won't worry."
I knew then we had bonded or else she would not have been concerned that I was worried or even have contacted me. I also knew, because of the call, she was reaching for home, if not yet ready to return. Therefore, I began my own search though an investigator for the state had not yet been able to locate them.
Thinking back over some of the comments I had heard from our foster teen, I drove to the last home location and began talking to every mother I could find, telling them my story, and showing them the girls' photo. By the next morning, I received a phone call from the boss of two women I had talked to at a convenience store who told me of a party she knew all of the teenagers planned to attend on the river. I called the police. The officers contacted adults who were nearby with their boats to be on the lookout. One of these adults found the girls, contacted the officers and called me himself to let me know he had found my daughter.
I drove back to the area and picked Audrey up. She was very quiet at first and climbed into the back seat. I immediately told her to get into the front seat with me where I hugged her, told her I loved her, and that we were going home. She giggled and then began to tell me all about her adventure. Some of it was very difficult to hear but I allowed her to talk all the way home and we never discussed it again. Instead, she began further counseling to help both of us understand why this had happened.
It was then our decision to give up our roles as foster parents so that we could devote all of our time and energy to raising our daughter.
This energy included moving to another town where the public school system was more fitted to Audrey's needs. During the next year, there were other times of sneaking out and running from her problems but she would return after a cooling off period, ready to tackle life again.
Escaping The Anger
Mentally Confronting The Past
And then one night after spending time with friends where she had been given alcohol, she came home upset and despondent. Her mood was strange and out of control and I sent her to her room. Soon after, I heard glass break. She had slammed her fist into a picture hanging on the wall of her room. I checked on her to be sure she wasn't hurt and then went straight to the phone to call for help. As they arrived and entered her room, we found her kneeling on the floor, holding her arm, a piece of the glass in her hand. There were small, shallow cuts across her wrist.
They took her immediately for help and she stayed in this facility for four days, working with the doctors. I did not see or talk to her during this time.
When I arrived to pick her up, she was obviously glad to see me. I asked her why she had tried to cut her wrist and she said it made the pain in her head go away to cut herself. I asked her if she had wanted to die and she said, "no!" So, I asked her what on earth she was thinking when she did it. She said, "I thought, 'Jeanie will kill me if I get blood on the carpet'." I laughed at this. I said, "Audrey, why would you worry if you really wanted to hurt yourself. Obviously, you didn't want to die. You were really screaming for help. Next time, come to me and tell me before it gets so bad." She promised and there has never been another attempt.
The next week, she began Anger Management Counseling and, as she learned, so did I. It was a great help to both of us.
I have always said I have learned from my children. This little girl has taught me so many valuable lessons on coping with what life throws at you.
The thought process here is to wonder why this child continues to act out. Why doesn't she appreciate all that has been done for her? Because, no matter how much I love her or how much I do for her, I am not her natural mother and she really wants the woman she left behind. This is normal, would be normal to any one of us, and has to be remembered. It is human nature to yearn for a natural parent, especially when there is memory of that parent.
The Past Returns
Reliving A Learned Deed
During Audrey's Junior year, the past returned in the form of reliving a learned deed, thought buried. While shopping with friends, the girls decided to try their hand at stealing. Audrey had been her mother's decoy years before while she would steal for her addiction.
Later that evening, I received a call from a nearby department store informing me that they were holding my daughter for the authorities due to shop lifting. I was requested to come to the store.
When I arrived, I found Audrey frightened and apologetic. The authorities came in just after me and it was decided that the girls would be removed from the store in handcuffs and taken in squad cars to the police department in town. I followed in my car.
After several hours, the parents were taken outside to view the contents of the stolen items. It was easy for me to see which were the items taken by my own daughter, totaling around fifty dollars. I was aghast. She was carrying that much cash in her purse. She could easily have paid for her purchases.
Nonetheless, she must pay for her mistake. Since she had been saving for a car from the age of eleven, she had a considerable amount of money in her account. It was decided that she would pay for her own attorney, her own court charges, and would be grounded for three months, going nowhere alone with the exception of school.
When we appeared before the judge, she applauded my decision and added several months of probation and Community Service hours.
It only took once for Audrey to capture the realization that crime can be very expensive and she did not want to repeat her mistake.
Reaching For Adulthood
Following The Wrong Path
Audrey's senior year of high school was a good year and she worked very hard. Not only did she carry a 4.0GPA but she also excelled on her job at Marshall's. Graduation Day was a happy day for Audrey and she made plans to begin college in the fall.
However, as the summer progressed, she decided she didn't like the rules of the house because she was eighteen. In a heated discussion, she stormed out of the house with the decision to move out. All went well for awhile but she met a young man who was to prove a great detriment to her. She lost her job, dropped out of school, lost her place to live, and they were eventually living from friend to friend or in her car.
During this time, she began smoking both cigarettes and pot, drinking heavily and dabbling with cocaine.
There were times during these months when I knew she didn't have enough to eat. But I had to practice "tough love". I couldn't help her until she was ready to help herself. It was so hard to see her so thin and unhappy.
In December, she had been working a temporary job. She called to tell me they were on their way to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with his mother, driving her car there. After Christmas, he was picked up by the police for leaving the state while on probation. While he was in jail, Audrey was told by his mother to return home because her son was not good for Audrey. At this point, she called me, telling me she wanted to come back to Florida but was afraid to drive alone.
So, I contacted a friend living in another state, who could fly up and drive her home for me. He caught a flight the next day. Once he arrived, we found that the young man had been released and, at this point, Audrey no longer wanted to return. At his mother's insistence, she changed her mind and began the drive back south. When they reached Louisville, Kentucky, my friend then contacted me, telling me he was having trouble with Audrey about her decision. His wife left South Carolina, drove to Louisville, picked him up and left Audrey and her car in Louisville, with my blessings. I had them leave her enough gas money to either go back to Wisconsin or drive home to me. I told her she now had a decision to make for her own life. Three hours after being left behind, she headed home and moved back in with us.
Three weeks later, she was not working, was sleeping all day, awake all night and her attitude toward me was still unacceptable. I asked her to leave once more. She had a lesson that she must learn before she could get back on track.
Four months later, she called me, asking to come home once again. This time, she said, "I am going to wind up just like my natural mother if I don't come home."
At the age of nineteen, she returned home to live with us. She quit smoking both cigarettes and pot, quit the use of any drugs, and, though she was still drinking some, at this point, it was minimal. A valuable lesson had been learned and she appreciated her home enough to follow the rules, work and begin, once again, to plan for college.
Audrey's Dream Of The Future
To Grow Old And Experience The Good In Life
By Audrey Lyn
Thinking about what I want out of life and what I want to accomplish, my dream would be to have a family and so many loved ones I could not begin to name them all.
My Mom and my Dad married after they had both divorced from difficult marriages, and had two great children each. I came along and they decided to adopt me. I made their whole family realize how acceptance and sharing could mean so much. They all welcomed me as though I had always been a part of the family, as if I were their own flesh and blood.
I want to have my own family one day, just as caring and giving. There are always obstacles and interference. It is my dream to work around those. I hope I am lucky and my dream goes as planned.
Someday, I want a career that I love to do and I am good at. I want to find someone special meant just for me. I want to be able to have my own children and maybe adopt, as well, because I know how it is not to have a family. I want to see my children grow up and have their own families. I want to grow old and experience all the good things there are in life.
Right now, that seems like a fantasy.
It is strange growing up and thinking about such commitment and gained responsibility beyond my own little world.
Withstanding The Challenge
I Refuse To Accept My Child's Defeat
Throughout my life, I have found God has been preparing me, in advance, for each future step I am to take. He has always known, better than I, what lies ahead.
I began babysitting at the age of ten, had two children of my own, a wonderful relationship with my teenage babysitters that has lasted through their adulthood, and raised my husband's two teenagers.
No matter what this child has put in my path, my love for her has jumped the hurdle and I have managed to find the strength to continue to fight for her. There were times I stood against my own husband and adult children as I fought for this child. There were times I felt I was fighting myself. Never would I have thought it possible to stand against my own family until facing the possible defeat of this child placed in my care by God.
Not once, along the way, did I ever look ahead and see myself in these various positions. However, I was forever preparing for my own destiny. Until I found myself responsible for the life of this little girl did I fully understand how God feels about each of us.
Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the destiny of his position be removed from Him, sparing Him of what He knew lay in His path. God reminded Him of the importance of His plan and the need to save His children, all of us, in His charge. And, therefore, God gave His own son, for us.
All too quickly, we say no to His request before realizing we are capable of anything that He puts in our path. He would not put it there if it were not necessary. He would not put it there if we were not capable of withstanding the challenge. He would not put it there if He were not going to be there to guide us through.
God loves us as His own throughout our time on this earth, and beyond, without ceasing. He loves us whether we walk the path He chooses or choose to follow our own. He is there to pick us up after failure and is patient with us until we find our way back to Him each time we stumble.
I refuse to accept my child's defeat as God refuses to accept mine.
A Promise Pending
Where Do I Begin?
The night I first brought Audrey home, I promised, if she were still with me when she was grown, I would try to find her mother for her.
I have kept every promise I have ever made to this little girl, save this one. And now she is grown.
So, where do I begin?
Continue now to Part Three as we discover the path to Audrey's biological siblings together.
And Hear About Her Nieces And Nephews
Who Is Mom To The Zoo?
Born in the small town of Pendleton, South Carolina, in 1950, I was the oldest of two, five years my sister's senior. It was a wonderful place to grow up where the entire town raised its children. I was always surrounded by people who loved and looked out for me. I graduated from High School with the same people who were in my kindergarten class. At 58, my childhood friends are still my friends. I feel so fortunate to have known such a childhood.
After college, I worked at Clemson University until May 1972. At that time, I married and lived in Glyfada, 22 miles from Athens, Greece for two years...via USAF. We then moved to North Dakota for another two years before returning to South Carolina.
We divorced after 16 years and two children. I married my best friend two years later and moved to Florida in 1988 and together we have raised my husband's son and daughter and my son and daughter...one federal officer, one pastor's wife, one sixth grade school teacher, and the other, after working for Florida Power and Light since age 19, is now with AT&T. In 1996, I adopted my step daughter. We are blessed with four grandsons and one granddaughter.
In 1999, we became foster parents with the Children's Home Society and had a number of children under our roof in the next 5 years. In 2001, we adopted a 13 year old girl, whom we first met at the age of 11, and is now 21. I also have spent more time in a courtroom than I care to think about, fighting for the rights of the children in our care. In 2004, I turned in my license so that I could be a full time Mom to our special needs daughter and keep our infant granddaughter five days a week while her mother was teaching.
Bill, my husband, is a retired USAF Air Traffic Controller. He is now working out of the country, on Ascension Island, with Computer Science Raytheon, as their chief controller, contracted out of Patrick AFB, Florida. This enables him to continue to do the job he loves, air traffic, and aid the military. He flies in and out on furlough and I handle things here at home. I jokingly call myself a Single Married Woman.
Actually, I am a retired Accountant/Credit Manager, now a housewife, where I enjoy writing, singing, piano, and sewing. I have had numerous poems and short stories published and have sung in churches and for church organizations for years, as well as weddings, a couple of variety shows, and even at my daughter's, and later my son's, weddings, one of the hardest things I have EVER done. We are members of a Baptist church where I am a soloist and sing in the choir. I am also a member of the Women's Bible Study Group and work on the Mission's Committee.
And, last but not least, we have two singing dogs. Raven is a thirteen year old Skipperkee/Chow with bucked teeth and attitude and Whisper, our nine pound poodle, who thinks himself a Doberman.
I have been Mom To The Zoo since the morning after our wedding. My friend, Lee, who was staying with our four children and two dogs answered the phone from a sound sleep, "Hunt Zoo, Zookeeper Speaking."
My life has involved many changes and avenues that I would never have dreamed of and has given me challenges that I never thought I was equal to. But, I have found that God has a plan and, if you follow His lead, you can handle anything he puts in your hands. However, you have to first learn to listen to Him. No matter what we want from life, it must come in His time. He has given my husband and me more than we could have began to imagine back in high school and we have found that what we thought was so important for our futures back then was nothing to what we have done so far. At 58, I have learned from our foster children, to look forward to the future and the next challenge with enthusiasm and excitement. If they can trust and love us after what the world has dealt them, we can surely tackle whatever lies ahead with ease. Life is a series of learning experiences and I continue to find life to be both a challenge and a joy which grows with each passing year. I learn more and more about myself with each passing day!
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