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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

Foster Chronicles

Updated: Apr 29, 2023


There is a small boy

There is a small boy.

Running.

Screaming.

Swallowing the dust of the car he is chasing.

A car that carries his parents back to the home he left behind.

What happened in this home feels irrelevant. The way this transfer was handled overshadows the history that led up to this moment. This moment that makes me feel like a monster. I am the darkness, the unknown.

Once in the house, he ran to every door, trying to unlock it, trying to escape, run, anywhere. He would then bang his head against the wall, over and over. He was put into a hold until he ran out of hope, allowing his fate to consume him. This takes longer than you think, a cornered animal can breathe in endless energy.

When the agency was gone, we stood there with a terrified boy, wondering what the hell we just committed to.

Kyle was taken in by an OPR. An independent agency that functions to take on cases that are too difficult for the system to absorb. Some of the children that arrive there carry a history that would make you want to gather the adults in their life and shoot every fucking one of them.

We cared for other kids with this agency, but we had never taken a child in, this was new. The first night was filled with yelling and crying as Gunter and I took turns trying to sooth Kyle. Telling him this was only temporary; we are going to have a big adventure…and other useless shit he wasn’t buying for a second. Eventually he would fall asleep after yelling “Mom” over and over again till his voice grew raspy and muted, along with his spirit.

The next day was filled with outings and a lot of talk, and a lot of silence, and a lot of moments that were slowly filling the unknown with the known. Like building a house with air, careful not to create any currents that would ruin the shape.

Eventually, after the physical needs were met, the brain is the next hurdle. Unfortunately, when kids are badly damaged by their environment and the sad luck of their biology, they need medication. A soup, our psychiatrist says, adding ingredients till it’s just right. But really, in the end, pills replace people and in some cases the medication is just a mental straight jacket. A cocktail to sooth them into submission. Of course, the reality is, no one has the time, or money, to explore any other options and without medication the situation becomes unworkable. Medication is needed to allow the child to pause and move through society without causing disruption. It is not a cure; it is a way of freezing time. Eventually when these kids hit puberty, they dump all their meds in order to get rid of the zombie effect.

Their life explodes from black and white to techno colour, full speed, in every direction.

Medication begins.

We act as the gatekeepers of his mind, but really, we are just observers, watching him navigate a world that sucked him out of a womb and is now ready to spit him out.

The cocktail of pills is a standard one, then tweaked to mix and match the wandering chemistry of his brain. As time passes, he is shaped by routine and medication. School starts and as weeks turn into months, it becomes clear, this is not a short visit.

The nights are rough. Raging off and on with tempered moments that breathe an ounce of hope. He listens to a book that houses a recording device, spitting out, page by page, the voice of his mother. “I love you this much…” He does not cry, he never cries.

Months turn to years, and it is clear he is never going back. It is also clear why he shouldn’t. Removing him was not a mistake, but it was poorly executed. Undoing the damage of that process is a large part of what will unravel in his teenage years.

Right now, there are monthly supervised visits with the parents. I feel guilty, holding on to what is theirs. I can also feel their humiliation and loss of control. We build a relationship that eventually fades with time. We have nothing in common, except Kyle. We come from two different worlds, and we are marked by them as privileged. They are not wrong, but no matter how much you want to share that privilege, you are the enemy.

Kyle settles into our world, as we settle into his.






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