Fiona Barker was around nine years old when she questioned her Mom about something interesting written on the calendar: “Foster.”
Finally, that day on the calendar arrived. Fiona was about to discover what “foster” meant. The family of four—Fiona, her older sister, and their parents—loaded into the van and set off. How Fiona loved adventure! They arrived at a “foster care” facility and met a smiling brunette boy of twelve years old named Edward Baker.
Edward’s mother was handicapped and couldn’t care for him. He needed a capable family. He bonded with Fiona and the Barkers instantly, and wanted to change his last name from ‘Baker’ to ‘Barker.’ They started visiting each other, and occasionally they would get together with Ed’s mother and grandparents, too. There was a spare bedroom in the house, which had been Fiona’s grandpa’s room until he passed away recently. It became Ed’s room. This meant only two things to Fiona: 1. No more jumping on the bed, and 2. It seemed like things would work out. Fiona and her sister finally had an older brother!
They faced problems. Fiona didn’t understand what was going on exactly, but her Mom said that “DSS” were trying to prevent Edward from moving in with them for undeserving reasons a part of a large conspiracy. It was legal torture, and as if they were deliberately inventing ways to prevent a sweet boy from moving into a good home. They would not have expected this from DSS, but not every social worker has good intentions for all of their children, due to personal reasons. Coincidentally, the “bad” woman who was mainly responsible for the trouble had the same name as Fiona’s Mom. They began the long, draining process of going to the court to fight for Edward. To make matters worse, the court initially ruled that they were not allowed to see Ed anymore. However, why cry when you can try?
They secretly met up with Edward and his family a few times, such as for a day at the beach, a movie, a birthday celebration, or simply a visit. Ed was in the Civil Air Patrol, so they met up at an airshow once, too. This went on for some time. They never lost hope. Mrs. Barker would come home with tears in her eyes over another lost case at court, but those were not tears of loss, but only of frustration. The Barkers would not accept a loss. They would not give up on Edward.
Fiona was in the fifth grade when they went to a foster care facility, but this time to meet Jessie O’Hare. She was in the seventh grade, but she seemed mature. She was fun to talk to, she was into fashion, and they clicked like real sisters. She came to stay at the house. The family tried to make her feel welcome, but Fiona complained when Jessie would get absorbed into the television and ignore Fiona. She didn’t understand that this is often involuntary, but everybody needs time to adjust to each other—the key is to keep positive. They looked forward to spending time together again. One day when Jessie was back at the facility, her parents had gathered all of Jessie’s belongings in big bags and left them outside. “They are coming to pick up her belongings while we’re out. They won’t let Jessie come back, because we are still trying to get Edward. It’s complicated,” Mrs. Barker explained sadly.
Progress was finally made. All of the employees of the “bad” DSS were fired, and new employees were brought in. This was good news, but the Barkers still had to fix the damage that was done. Meanwhile, they kept their fostering license active. Fiona was in the sixth grade when Drake Amenheuser came to stay with them. He was one year in between Fiona and her sister, playful, and full of attitude. She became a little bit of a tomboy to keep up with his play. They physically fought a couple of times, but mostly they hung out like buddies. He refused to eat his vegetables. They rode the bus to school together. Her friends thought he was cute until he would make fun of them. He brought spunk to the family. Classmates never asked where he came from. They just accepted him.
One morning, Fiona found her Mom teary-eyed and unsettled—again. “They” were making her decide between Drake and Edward, because they couldn’t foster from two separate facilities at the same time. They had already engraved it into their minds not to give up on Edward, so Drake couldn’t stay. Just when he was starting to accept his vegetables, too! It was time to put forth all their effort into Edward’s case. Ultimately, they won Edward.
Fiona was waiting at home to greet Ed. Finally, the door opened and he teased, “Hey, stranger!” He was a good brother. They never fought. Fiona and her sister could go places with him without parental supervision, like to the theme park. They teased each other and talked about all sorts of things. He began strange habits, like hiding men’s clothing magazines in his drawers but never expressing interest in the clothes. He eventually admitted to being gay. It was accepted. He broke up with his girlfriend Christy. Even if he wasn’t quite the son Fiona’s father had in mind, they still loved Edward.
Edward was not twelve years old anymore. He was older and his behavior was often problematic, which was expected in the world of foster children; The Barkers had patience with his outbursts in school and figured that he would fix up over time with the right discipline. At first, they would punish him by making him read books for two hours in the library (Fiona would have loved that!). They also had conversations with him about right and wrong behavior. Then, they started heavier consequences for heavier behavior, such as having him stay with his grandparents. It was a collaboration to push him to try harder.