14 March 2008
Happily Ever After
Once upon a time, a baby girl was born. She was beautiful and smart; she had to be, to survive. You see, the girl's mother was troubled. She either couldn't or didn't know how to take care of her daughter. The girl often stayed with friends or relatives of her mother, who sometimes didn't take care of her well, either. Even when she lived with her mother, the little girl didn't have enough to eat, and she often had to find or prepare food for herself. She was three years old.
Eventually, people found out about the little girl and her neglectful mother. And the mother made perhaps the only good decision she had ever made about her daughter: rather than let the state take away her daughter, the mother would give her daughter a new mother, a new father. She contacted someone she knew through an acquaintance. Would this woman take care of her daughter?
The woman had already raised her own two children. She was looking forward to a new phase of life. But she could not get the plight of the little girl out of her head. So she said, yes, she would take care of the little girl. But only if the little girl could be hers and her husband's forever. They would adopt her.
It took some time, and some money, and a lot of paperwork. Finally, the woman flew to the little girl's home, and drove the little girl's mother two hours away to a lawyer who specialized in such things. As the woman waited for the mother and the lawyer, her hands shook. She was afraid the mother would change her mind, and that would be terrible, for the woman already loved the little girl. But the mother did not change her mind. With her signature, she gave her small daughter a new family, one that could love her and take care of her.
At age three and a half, the little girl had a new mother. But they hardly knew each other. On the plane to her new family's home, the little girl dropped something on the floor and used the words she had always heard around her. Her new mother looked at her, shocked (as did the other passengers), and told her gently that such words were not used in their family.
When they got to her new home, the little girl stood, speechless, in front of the full refrigerator. She had never seen so much food in one place.
When her new mother wanted her to get in the bathtub, she screamed and fought. She remembered being put into deep water when someone was angry with her. Water was dangerous. But her mother was patient. She got into the tub with the little girl, every night for months. After a long time, she stopped being afraid.
Now the little girl is six years old. She is happy with her new family, who is now just her family. She's learning so much in school. And she's taking swim lessons once a week. She swims in the deep pool, practicing the crawl, the backstroke, and treading water. She has fun at swim lessons. Her swim teacher is pretty and nice, and her class is all girls around her age. One of her swim friends is named Katrina.
The little girl doesn't know she is a heroine in a fairy tale. But to anyone who hears her story, she is. And so are her mommy and daddy. At least, the mommies of her swim friends think so.