Wart of the Course
"I'm a wart of the course, I'm a wart
of the course!"
The little girl skipped faster, arms
outstretched. Her long blonde braids bounced with each hop.
"Ward of the court, doofus," Marcus
said. "You're such a baby, Emily."
He watched his little sister slowly
"Marcus, what is a wart of the court?"
Emily asked. "Mrs. Keenan said it means we can be apopted now."
"Adopted, silly," he said. "It means
Mom signed the paperwork so we can have a new family."
"Marcus, why doesn't Mommy love us
anymore?" she asked.
"Mrs. Keenan said Mom must really
love us, cause she's letting us go," he replied. "She said when you love
some one, you want the best for them."
"But why is it best for us, Marcus?"
she asked, in the precise, matter-of-fact tone of a four-year-old. "I
want to go see Mommy. Take me, Marcus."
"Emily, I already told you we can't
go see Mom. She's sick, remember?"
Rebecca hugged her little sister. "Remember
when we had our talk with Mrs. Keenan last week? She told us that Mom
is real sick and that we can't be with her anymore. That's why Mom signed
the paperwork. Now we'll be allowed to have a brand new mommy to love
Marcus watched as his older sister
hugged Emily. He thought he could remember a time when Mom hugged him
like that, but it was a pretty dim memory. The main thing he remembered
was how she slept all day long, and went out with different men every
night. The men always laughed and joked with Mom. Some of them would even
put their hands on her, and he didn't like that.
Becca, if Mom loves us so much," he
asked, "then why doesn't she go to the doctor and get some medicine? Then
we could stay together."
Rebecca hugged Emily tighter, then
looked at Marcus. His brown hair was too long, curling under at his collar.
His dark eyes had a sad look, to sad for a six-year-old, like he was carrying
the weight of the world. She pulled Marcus onto her lap, squeezing both
children tightly. She sighed, unsure how to respond. Marcus was right.
If their mother really wanted them she'd stop drinking, wouldn't she?
"Marcus, it isn't that easy," she
said. "I don't think they have a pill that will make Mom stay home. But,
we can ask Miss Farley if you want. Come on, I think she's in the TV room."
Marcus sniffled as he jumped down and
hastily wiped his eyes, but he wasn't fast enough. Rebecca saw the telltale
shine of a tear, glistening on his cheek. She knew her little brother
was just as unhappy living in the foster home, as she was. Rebecca gave
Emily another hug as she climbed off her lap.
The children quietly walked into the
TV room, patiently waiting for a commercial break. One of Miss Farley's
many rules was, "One must never interrupt one, when involved in the intricacies
of our daily programs." In the short time they had been living here, they
had learned that her daytime shows' had plenty of commercials!
"Excuse me, Miss Farley, may I ask
you a question," Rebecca said.
"Hmm? What? Oh, it's you, Rebecca.
Yes, yes you may, but be quick about it. We don't want to interrupt our
program, now, do we?"
Miss Farley glanced at the children,
then turned back to her television set.
"Miss Farley, we were wondering if
you knew why our mother gave us up for adoption?" Rebecca asked.
"Why, because she's sick," she said.
"Sick people cannot take care of children."
"I know she's sick," Rebecca said.
She glanced at her brother and sister,
then quickly finished.
"But it seems to me that if she loved
us she'd get help, so we could stay with her."
"Oh my, I'm sure she has tried . .
. oh dear, surely she wants to."
Miss Farley's face became red, as she
stammered out her reply.
"I think you should ask your case worker
this question," she said. "Yes, I'm sure of it! You may use the telephone
to call Mrs. Keenan. Yes, that is exactly what you should do.
Dismissing the children, Miss Farley
turned back to her television, once again absorbed in the complexity of
The children went into the parlor
to use the phone. Marcus sat on the arm of the chair Rebecca was sitting
in and Emily sat on her lap. Rebecca carefully dialed the number of the
Children's Protection Agency, then waited for the switchboard operator
to connect her to Mrs. Keenan's office.
"Hello, Mrs. Keenan? This is Rebecca
Conner," she said. "Mrs. Keenan, we were wondering . . . well, why is
our mother giving us away?"
"Rebecca dear, we discussed this last
week. Your mother is very ill and she can't take care of you anymore.
Remember, I explained all of this to you kids. When the custodial parent
is unable to adequately care for his or her children, the court places
them in foster care. Then we work very hard to find you a new family.
"I understand the judge said we can
be adopted now that mom signed the paperwork," she said. "But what I don't
understand is," she took a deep breath, and winked at Marcus, "if our
mom really loves us, then why doesn't she get help? Why doesn't she want
Rebecca held her breath as she waited
to hear Mrs. Keenan's response. Emily squirmed in her lap.
"I'm sorry, dear. I don't know what
you want me to say," Mrs. Keenan said. "When a parent decides he or she
can no longer take care of children, for whatever reason, then it's our
job to find some other person to take care of Them. I guess what I'm trying
to say Rebecca, is there just isn't a simple answer to your question."
Rebecca hung up and looked at Emily
and Marcus. Emily was sucking her thumb, and she could see tears welling
up in Marcus' eyes again.
"Mrs. Keenan said that if you really
love somebody, you want what's best for them," she said. "She said Mamma
must really love us, cause it's hard to let go of the people you love.
Aren't we lucky Mamma loves us so much."
Rebecca pulled her little
brother and sister inter her arms. Emily giggled and Marcus grinned as she turned
her head, trying to hide her tears from them.