This is the story of my dear friend, Missy and her mom, Marcia. She’s a special person and I’m so thankful she shared her story with me, and with all of you. She considers herself “one of the lucky ones”.
“We are often told that we look alike. Our eyes meet and we just smile knowing that we are the only ones in on our little secret”, explained Missy when telling her story about her experience as a child in the system. It was about twenty-four years ago that her life took a drastic, yet remarkable turn.
From the beginning of her life, one would not consider Missy to be lucky. Her biological mother was just eighteen-years-old when she gave birth to Missy. Already having a lot on her plate as the mother of twins, parenthood was hard on her. Missy’s toddler and preschool years were spent with her mom having multiple boyfriends. She actually remembers her mom changing the pictures on the wall depending on what boyfriend was visiting. Things were rough, but got much worse when she was five-years-old. Her mother married a man who was not the kind of father she and her siblings needed in their lives.
Physical abuse was a part of her life as young girl. Missy remembers being beaten for trivial things such as losing the pen to the Yahtzee game. Sometimes, she and her siblings were beaten so severely that they had to miss days of school. Her siblings experienced sexual abuse, but Missy did not. She is incredibly thankful for this, but carried guilt as a child knowing that her siblings were exposed to this type of horrific abuse.
One of the worst memories Missy recalled was when her step-father tried to force her to drown her puppy for peeing on the floor. Missy always had a genuinely compassionate love for animals, so her step-father choosing this as a punishment for both her and the pup was incredibly cruel. Although young, Missy stood up to her step-dad, refused to drown her pup, and instead took a beating that lasted for hours.
As time went on, things got worse. Her mom, beaten beyond recognition, would tell the children that she was going to take them and leave, but never did. Missy suspects she was scared and had such low self-esteem that she chose to stay.
After three years of living a nightmare with her step-dad, a knock on the door occurred and child protection services removed the children. Although in desperate need to be taken out of that environment, Missy was scared, clung onto her teddy bear, and sobbed over being taken away from her mommy. She and her siblings moved from home to home for various reasons, and she remembers the drive to each new home being very scary. They would arrive at a new place full of strangers and a trash bag full of their belongings.
Enter Marcia. Marcia was a former neighbor of Missy and happened to be at the Children’s Division office when she overheard the social worker talking about needing to find another home for the kids. Realizing the children being talked about were the three children she fed when hungry, Marcia immediately stated she wanted to take them into her home.
Even though their home was filled with children, Missy remembers feeling loved as though she was the only child there. Marcia and her husband, Jim, welcomed her and her siblings with an incredible amount of love. Her birth mom was never able to reunify with her children. Missy feels as though she chose the lifestyle she was living with her step-dad over her and her siblings. Although never legally adopted, Missy chose to change her last name to Marcia’s and Jim’s last name when she was twelve-years-old. They were already adopted in love.
Being taken in and loved on made an incredible difference in the lives of Missy and her siblings. Safety and nurturing became their constant. Opportunity became their normalcy. The rest of their childhoods were ones free of abuse and neglect. Marcia and Jim are heroes who helped to changed the lives of children; ones that desperately needed a place to call home and the love of a family.
I’ll let her words speak for them-self:
“I have not seen my bio mom since I was taken away. It would be easy to be mad and full of hatred for her. I chose a long time ago to let this all go. The pain and hate only brought me down. Matter of fact, if I ever see her I may thank her. My past has made me the person I am and brought my new parents and siblings into my life. “My mom” and I are very close and I know we were brought together for a reason. As she says “we are like peas and carrots”! I now have two beautiful girls myself and cannot imagine letting anyone hurt them. I realize not all foster children are as lucky as me. I was able to graduate from college, get married to a wonderful husband, get a great job, and have two beautiful babies. I guess I consider myself one of the lucky ones.”
Missy – I think those of us who consider you a friend are the lucky ones. Thank you for sharing your story of how one person can change the life of a child, and for your personal resilience to rise above. You, my dear, are an amazing woman.