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 quit spinning.
"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 us."

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 her program.

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. Understand?"
"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 us?"
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.