Fourteen foster homes in fourteen years. Every year, a new home.
There was always something. Not the right fit, just a temporary thing, they had to relocate immediately, too much of a strain on the family, behavioural issues, it’s just not working out. No room for error, no room for failure. One big mistake, and I was gone. And at fourteen years old, it was not hard to make one big mistake.
I was expelled on the second day of my new school with my thirteenth foster family. On the third, I was gone. By that point, I couldn’t imagine ever becoming a piece in that well-known puzzle we know as family. And then something happened. That big mistake took away one family and gave me another. One that would change my life forever.
They had a little girl. Big brown eyes, wild dark hair. She could make you laugh on the days that were filled with shadows. On the first day, I slammed the door in her face. On the second, she gave me Woody from Toy Story. I didn’t take him. He was a toy, and I was too old for toys. She put him outside my bedroom door every day after until I took him in to satisfy her.
One week later, while her parents were cooking dinner, I ended up being invited to a tea party the little girl was having with Bo Peep. Woody came along. She blew away a few shadows that day. And the days following.
Decades later, Woody is having tea parties with another little girl that creates rainbows from storms. My daughter. And Bo Peep, of course.