The Tiger (slice 12)

She came into our lives dragging with her a huge, bedraggled stuffed tiger. It took up as much space on her bed as she did. But no one could deny a child her security blanket, her lovey, no matter how unwieldy, how cumbersome, at such a time. Life as she knew it was unraveling. As one social worker was bringing her to us, another was taking her sister to a foster home across town. Though she couldn’t grasp the truth, her stepfather was in jail. Her mother was home alone. The issues that led to her coming to us would lead us all to the State Supreme Court.

The tiger was a memory of a happy family time- a night at the fair, a daddy spending far too many dollars to win something for his little girl, the  little girl starry-eyed in awe of her daddy and his impressive show. Then on the ordinary nights, nights when times were not fun anymore, the tiger became her protector.

She and tiger became very happy in our home, the red-headed imp with freckles on her nose and that big old stuffed animal. Sometimes the tiger came out to the living room and we all snuggled and watched TV together, or the tiger would be a silent observer at family game night.

We began to feel like a family. The court  hearings were always there to remind us otherwise, and eventually the final order that separated us was pronounced.

A new, younger case worker came to take her away. He arrived in his two-seater sports car. He was aghast when he saw the tiger, and the other trappings of childhood that had joined her and tiger while they were with us. Most foster children come and go with only a bag of clothes and maybe a small stuffed animal. He soon came to understand that unless that tiger found a space in his car, she wasn’t going anywhere. With the bravest smiles we could manage, we said goodbye.

We looked out and watched them drive away, tiger hanging out the window. It was the last time we saw them.

The case worker came back the next day in the state car and took her other things away.

This entry was posted in home and family, memories, SOLSC March 2012, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Tiger (slice 12)

  1. This is a slice of your life…a true story? It is heart wrenching and I am crying. The only response I have is to pray, to pray for that little red headed imp, for the wholeness that a personal relationship with God can bring, a prayer for you,too for the bravery it tales to be a foster parent when the heart break comes. Maybe sharing helps the burden.

  2. Becky says:

    Your writing is clear and descriptive, but even more important you illustrated many emotions of the characters of your story. Thanks for a glimpse inside.

  3. Whew. This slice is an emotional journey that I am sure doesn’t begin to compare to the real thing. How amazing that you opened your heart to the owner of the tiger and also that you opened your heart to the slicing community through your words. My heart aches for you and for the starry-eyed girl. You are all lucky to have crossed paths for the short time you had together, but I am sure it is not easy to look at that way.

  4. Linda Baie says:

    As foster parents, you know in your minds that goodbyes might be said, but in your hearts, you want it to be different. What a selfless action to touch that little girl’s life and keep her, and her tiger, safe for a while. I am sorry for your grief, & I imagine grief it is, yet you have done something so wonderful that I hope that gives you some solace. It is very wonderful that you shared this story. Thank you!

  5. girlgriot says:

    I grew up surrounded by the foster children my grandmother cared for. She was a foster parent from my dad’s teen years until she was well into her 80’s. I always knew, intellectually, that fostering was a challenge, that it took so much more than “just” providing room and board. I formed close friendships with many of the children and young people who stayed in that big, rambling house, and missed them when they aged out of foster care or returned to their birth families. Your slice is reminding me of so many of them, reminding me of just how much more my grandmother was giving and just how much it must have hurt her to see those children leave.

    You may see this little girl again. Many of the children my grandmother took in stayed connected to her into adulthood. They are my aunts and uncles today, as close to me as the relatives I was born connected to.

    I honor your kindness, your willingness to open your home and heart to a child in need.

  6. elsie says:

    What a powerful story of love. You were the rock when this little one needed you. Bless you for the love you shared with this child.

  7. Ruth says:

    Your story touched me. At the end of a long line of comments, it’s impossible to say anything new. I want you to know your words are powerful and I’m thankful for foster parents like you.

  8. Pingback: Sonney Rain-no-more:SOLSC2013#2 | newtreemom

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