January 1, 2015

Book Review: Another Place at the Table

Another Place at the Table: a story of shattered childhoods redeemed by love  by Kathy Harrison

This book is one foster mother’s experience with the foster care system.  She details her family’s decision to begin fostering and the story of a few children in her care.  It was heartbreaking to read the details of children’s lives destroyed by abuse and how difficult it was for them to even begin to come back to a place where they could function.  The details of their experience with the system--never knowing how long a child might stay and the uncertainty of adoption from foster care.  I read through this one pretty quickly because the stories gripped me.  It definitely made me see (even more) how needed this service is!

I have felt a strong pull toward foster care over the last 7 years I’ve been at my job.  I’ve worked with lots of babies in foster homes, so I was very interested to read this book along with her other book One Small Boat.  I finished out this year reading a few books by a foster carer in England named Cathy Glass (Don’t Take my Baby, I Miss my Mummy, Will you Love me? and Another Forgotten Child).  She has several books out and each one details the story of a different child she has cared for.  They were all very good as well and it was interesting seeing some of the differences between the system in England versus the system here--but ultimately seeing how similar it all is.  

Highlighted Quotes
“The nature of the foster care beast is that the very children least equipped to deal with the busy, chaotic, and unpredictable world of a foster home have no other option.  Lots of children and a limited pool of foster families virtually assure a foster child of a life of not quite enough time, energy, or attention.  I loved what I was doing, but I didn’t love its limitations.  I often vowed to cut back on my numbers, but I never followed through.  There was always another call, another child, another story.  In the end, we all lost something.”

“I never figured out how I was supposed to do it.  How was I supposed to give enough to each of these kids to let them grow up with the sense of family they needed to be healthy without loving them too much to let them go in the end?  In my heart, Karen was already my child.  Lucy and Angie were for all intents and purposes sisters.  Sara would never make it anyplace but with us.  I still worried and fretted over Danny’s fate.  It is the triumph of foster care that families can love these children who were never meant to be theirs.  It is also the tragedy.”

“This is what I’ve arrived at: I want to live a life that matters, a life that makes a difference.  To do that as a foster parent I have to make sure that every child I say yes to will be better off for the experience of living with me.  I am not naive enough to believe that I can fix every problem or give every child all of what he or she needs… but I do believe that each of them left with more  than they came with.  When I wrote their names on my list I have to believe that, in many ways that matter, all of our lives were enriched.”

“All three were children before they were foster children, and they wanted and needed the same things all children do.  They needed to snuggle in for stories, have cookies and milk every afternoon, and watch for rainbows behind the barn.”

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