Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Broken Arm

This is another of my "ancient tales".

We discovered that the state of Delaware checked us out for foster children by talking to people who knew us, rather than putting a tape measure to our doors and windows. We were impressed that the division of social services cared more about the character of people than the mere statistics of floor space. We were sure that we would get along with an understanding agency like this. We had applied for a boy, because we already had four of our own, and felt we had enough experience to handle him. But when we heard that he would have to be separated from his sister, we asked them why we couldn't simply take both. It worked out, rather amazingly, and before we knew it we had Bobby (who was 9) and Donna (who was 8) in our noisy, active family.

What we didn't know was just how Donna worked. She was different. Maybe our original idea was best, but that would have left these siblings separated, and it would have broken our hearts, even if it didn't break theirs. Donna was active - no, frenetic - no, hyper! Well, anyway you get the point. She also felt it was very important to be part of the family, and to be accepted by the group of kids with whom she was playing. I guess that doesn't sound very unusual, but perhaps it was the degree that this compelled her that was unusual indeed. Since the other kids were roller skating, she had to roller skate too. Since the other kids were skating down a steep driveway, she had to do it too. Only she didn't really know how to skate. The results were predictable had we really known our new daughter. She broke her arm. This is when we learned that foster children really belong to the state, and only certain people have the authority to approve medical procedures--including the setting of broken bones. My wife is a trouper. She made a phone call or two, and got Donna to the hospital. All seemed to be going well, finally, when we had a new disclosure to learn about our cute little new daughter. She is deathly terrified of needles. So when the nurse tried to give her an anesthetic shot, Donna screamed and pulled her arm back, and out came the needle. Barbara reports that it took four of them to hold her down and give her that shot.

Even back then there were horror stories about foster care in the news. So we began imagining what our social worker might think when our Donna's arm is broken just six weeks after she was placed in our home. We kept looking out the window, but no black sedans with suits, and no black-and-whites pulled to our curb.

Further musing brought to mind that school was about to begin like the next day, and, of course, it was her right arm that had to break. This, however, was not to be Donna's greatest obstacle in her educational experience. We learned, after clinical analysis at the Alfred I. DuPont Institute for children, that Donna has an auditory learning disability to accompany her hyper-active lack of attention span.

In due time Donna learned to calm herself down, and eventually earned an unqualified high school diploma. Let me say that whatever she lacked auditory-wise, she compensates for with visual alertness. She is legendary in our family for being able to find things. To this day when something can't be found we are prone to say, "Where is Donna when you need her?"

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