Five years earlier
That was how I spent my days. I could never bring myself to play with the other children. My excuse was that getting attached to anyone or anything wasn’t worth the heartache that would follow.
I had been shuffled from one foster home to another for as long as I could remember, hoping, no, praying, that today would be the day that someone would finally take me home. I couldn’t remember much about my mom, but was told that she died in some freak car accident when I was four. The only thing I have to remind me of who she was is the heart-shaped locket that she once wore around her neck with a picture of us inside. The photo must have been taken shortly before she died. It was the only thing of value given to me, other than the letter that Mrs. Brown read to me. When I turned thirteen, my foster mom, Mrs. Brown, felt I was old enough to understand the true meaning of love and the love my mom had for my father. I never had the pleasure of knowing him, but if I did, I knew he would love me just as much as my mom did. I just couldn’t understand why he left.
Hopefully, one day, I would have that again—a genuine family. Not that the Browns weren’t loving, caring people, but they had three children of their own, and two other foster kids to contend with on top of a troubled teenager. They had their hands full. So, I tried to be the perfect child and stayed out of their way and did what I was told. If I remained good, my chances of being adopted before I turned eighteen would be better than not.
Who was I kidding? Couples wanted a cute baby to adopt, not a fifteen-year-old who was too old to be molded into the child they wanted. Rainbow and sunshine dreams were no longer a possibility for me. It was time I faced reality.
Pushing from the porch swing, I was about to walk back into the house and help my foster mom with dinner when a fancy car pulled up in front of the house. A blue sedan that I recognized as belonging to the lady from Social Services followed the fancy car. I couldn’t remember her name, other than the one I gave her but never called her, since it wasn’t a very nice name but fit her perfectly. I wonder how many other kids referred to her as Mrs. Crabby-pants?
They had to be here for one reason, and that was to meet Tim or Max, who were the other two foster kids waiting to get adopted. I found it strange that an older couple accompanied Mrs. Crabby-pants. Mostly younger couples came to visit. Even though Tim and Max were six and eight, there was still a good chance for them to get adopted. Even though they too had their own set of problems, none of them compared to mine. Since the day I became part of the system, I hated not knowing what the next home would bring. Would I hate it as much as the one I was in, or would I hate it even more? There came a time when I blamed everyone I could for taking my mom away from me. Living with the Browns changed that. They gave me hope.
Mrs. Crabby-pants’ eyes met mine as she tipped her head. “Is your foster mother around?”
“Yes, I’ll show you where she is.” I opened the door and led them toward the kitchen where I was sure she would be.
Leaving Mrs. Crabby-pants and the two visitors with Mrs. Brown, I turned the corner but didn’t continue any further. Nothing could stop me from listening to their conversation. Pressing my body against the floral wallpapered wall in the hallway, I took in their discussion. Of all the social workers that visited the many foster homes I lived at, Mrs. Crabby-pants was the scariest and most intimidating. She was an older lady, one I felt should seriously think about retirement. Her hair was ghost white, and based on her wrinkled skin, I was positive that she was a smoker and should think about giving up the nasty things.
My heart thumped when I heard my name roll off Mrs. Crabby-pants’ tongue. “All the paperwork has been completed for Reyna Braxton’s adoption. Mr. and Mrs. McCall are officially Reyna’s new parents.”
It was the sweetest thing I’d ever heard. The necessary paperwork had been completed, and it appeared I wouldn’t be spending another night in this old house. I no longer needed to listen to any more of the conversation. Mr. and Mrs. McCall would be my new parents. Reyna McCall had a nice ring to it as I thought about what my life would be like from this day forward. I finally had a purpose in life. I would be the best daughter they ever had, and the name Reyna Braxton would soon be a forgotten memory.