In the early 1960's, my three children were all in school and I found the days long. Oh, I did the normal stuff, teach Sunday School, be room mother, help with scout troops. But I was looking for something more.
A sermon one Sunday morning and an ad in the newspaper a few days later, helped me make a de
cision to become a foster parent.
Our first few babies were pretty standard, and placed in adoptive homes in a few weeks each. But there came a day I got a phone call. There was a three week old little girl who was in a foster home but the foster parents did not want to keep her due to some strange behavior. Challenges are natural to me so there was no reason to hesitate.
Later that day, a little blue eyed, blond sweetie arrived. Her name was Laurie Kaye. She did have some funny quirks, I heard noises while she was napping and went to check, she was banging her head against the mattress. I stroked her head and talked to her and she went back to sleep. A few days and she stopped doing that, I think she had just been lacking attention, as she responded well to being held and cuddled.
It wasn't long before we found she had asthma, exzema, and abducted hips. The hip problem required a pillow splint that she wore until she was walking, very awkward. The eczema we coped with and overcame, the asthma was more difficult, and we made several scary trips to an ER with breathing problems.
Unlike most of our babies, she was not adoptable due to the health problems. And the day came when orders to a new base arrived.
By now, she had been with us almost a year, and felt like our child. We asked if she could go with us to Laredo, TX, our new assignment.
We were informed that foster kids could not cross state lines. So the hunt for new parents for her was on.
A few days later a lady and young boy, maybe five years old, arrived to visit. They were to be her new family.
The boy was rowdy and noisy and I was told he liked to drown kittens and he hit people a lot. After they left I called my case worker and asked if there were other alternatives. We could adopt, but it would require a meeting of the board.
Later the same day, I got the call back saying they had met and we were approved. that left three days to start the legal proceedings.
So Laurie and I headed to the nearest town, Rantoul IL to see a lawyer. The afternoon was spent filling out papers and signing documents, and at one point they asked her permanent legal name. My daughter was named Laura so it seemed strange to have two same named girls, and I was pressed to come up with something on the spot. We had been reading a book about Karen Kaye, who was four and a little bit more, in the waiting room, so Karen Kaye she became.
In Laredo the adoption proceeded and was finalized, we also had more foster children there.
And then we got orders to Grand Forks, ND. From one extreme to the other.
A short time later, I noticed that Karen was bruising badly so made an appointment to have her checked. Before we had time to think, we were on a plane to Fitzsimmons hospital in Denver CO.
They diagnosed aplastic anemia, the failure of the bone marrow to create new red blood cells. They gave her only a short time to live.
Medical care in ND was not available for her so a compasionate transfer to Rantoul Il was made, and put us near Childrens Hosital in Chicago. She did okay, we made some changes, I read up on healthy living and we moved to a small acreage in a "town" called Clarence. It was about 25 houses around a grain elevator. But we started growing our own food, raising chickens, and buying grain that was raised without pesticides. We also allowed Karen to do a lot of things she was not supposed to, like riding a pony, playing outside, normal stuff.
She was five years old when we got her diagnoses, and we had a good time with her for the next 4 years. But the transfusions became needed more often, and she didn't feel well a lot of the time. She had a homebound teacher as her immune system was not good, and we kept her away from anyone who was ill. Funny, the way we ate, no sugar, little salt, none of the white stuff, rice, shortening, salt, sugar and flour, kept all our kids extremely healthy, no colds those four years. There is a lot to be said for eating well.
One morning, we knew she needed a transfusion and took her to the base hospital. They gave her several units, but her blood count was not coming up. She looked at me and said, "It's not going to work this time, I'm sorry I have been so much trouble."
The doctor looked at me and siad she had little blood getting to her brain and did not know what she was saying. but she did, she was very lucid.
Her death was awful to watch, she bled out, just one of the worst things I have been forced to watch.
When her little body was spent, guess I became pretty hysterical. Who wouldn't.
So we lost our little angel, but I am sure she was put in our care because God knew what he was doing. I would not have changed a minute of it unless it would have been for her to be in good health.
Karen would be in her forties now, and I will have in my head forever the little girl in jammies waking up in the morning with her tousled hair and big yawns. And memories.