I finally jumped back into action this past weekend. After spending the first part of my Saturday night hanging out with adults drinking wine, I did something so refreshing and fun – I played like a kid for hours.
Ashley, a 10-year-old foster child of one of the guests, coaxed me downstairs for some Ping-Pong and basketball arcade. By night’s end, she had opened up my heart and a window that once felt closed.
Ashley looked like any other kid. Her natural blond hair and rosey, sun-soaked cheeks echoed perfect health. She was well-mannered, witty and seemed thrilled to be spending time with boring adults, jumping into our conversation wherever she could.
I heard earlier that night that she was a foster kid, but hadn’t given it much thought. That is, until her foster mom, Bev, asked, “Do you know anyone who wants to adopt a 10-year-old great kid? Her time is almost done with me, and she needs a permanent home.”
As she continued, I listened closely to Ashley’s story, my heart breaking a little bit more with each sentence about her past. Ashley has been in foster care since she was 3 years old. Seven years and 12 homes later, she’s no closer to adoption. “Nobody wants to adopt a preteenager,” Bev told us.
Ashley’s wish was to be adopted with her brother some years ago, but that family only wanted him. She was almost adopted by another family last year, but was deemed a possible threat to the family’s younger children and ultimately rejected. (Ashley’s “possible threat” is because she was sexually abused and might end up being abusive to her new siblings.)
The more I heard, the sadder and angrier I got. All I could do right then was jump up and play some more with this great kid. Honestly, just a month after surgery, she had worn me out playing, but suddenly my discomfort was an afterthought. If all I could give this child was my time, then that’s what I’d give her.
We spent the next hour shooting baskets and talking about stuff that really matters – dogs and swimming. Learning I had both at my house thrilled her. I invited her over this week to play, which seemed to excite Bev even more than Ashley. It was obvious that she needed some help; what wasn’t so clear is that I did too.
When we’re in the midst of our own challenges, we focus too much on our problems. Ashley’s predicament reminded me of what really matters and how one person can make a difference. I still may be in this divorce process, broke and with no place to call my own yet, but I sure as hell have plenty of time to spend with a child who really needs it.
As we were leaving, Ashley grabbed my hand and asked, “Are you sure I’ll see you again?”
“You can count on it,” I told her and gave her a hug I knew we both needed.
I felt a bond with this kid from the moment we started playing together. She reminded me of how I was at that age – coaxing everyone I could find to play with me. She also reminded me of how much I still want to be a mom. My friends often say they see me adopting several children and that I’d be a great mom. It’s probably the best compliment I’ve had, and part of a dream that’s alive in my heart.
I’m not quite in a position to be a mom yet, but I can be a good friend. And really, couldn’t we all have used more of them growing up?
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.