Main image
11th February
posted by amber

How We Got the Kids

Donna and me, we always both liked kids. She had three of her own before her husband divorced her and because she was in drug rehab at the time, he got custody.

I met her when she was in rehab her third time, the time it finally took. I was in rehab too, down from the north and living with my sister and her man for a while so I could do a day program before going back north. My sister and her man, they had these little kids, first time I’d been around little kids since I was one myself.

My sister – you could tell she was nervous, at first, having me around those rugrats of hers, but then she saw how much I liked them and how much they liked me too and before long she was asking me to babysit, stuff like that.

And then Donna says to me maybe I shouldn’t go back north because sure as shooting I’d just get back with my old crowd and start using again, which had already happened five times.

She said we ought to get jobs and stay clean and find a place to live. And if we could act real respectable, maybe even get married (she blushed when she said this) then maybe she could get her kids back. And we tried, god knows we tried, but the only jobs we could get were part time and the only place we could afford was downtown, not too good a neighborhood and I don’t think me being Metis helped when we went up against her husband and his lawyers.

But Donna, she’s a fighter. I was all for going to the bar to celebrate our defeat, but she says no, we’re going to the foster department, our place is ready for kids, we already have the two bedrooms just waiting, the place is clean and we’ve been clean for more than a year, if they ask. But they didn’t ask. They were that desperate for people to take kids.

We got Leon and Vandra and little Max right away. Then Leon’s family got him back and Vandra was adopted out and we got more, it was like a swinging door at our place except for little Max, no one wanted him because of his cleft palate, which is being fixed but that takes time, and because of his scrappy attitude, which is tied to always being teased because of the way he looks. So we adopted him.

Then my sister’s man, god damn him, who was a so-called Christian, always on my case when I lived with them over the drugs and the drinking even though I was clean, turns into an alcoholic and one night he drives them off the road, rolls the car four times and those kids – boom, they’re orphans. We’re ready and willing to take those kids but his parents fight us for them, using our backgrounds against us, even implying that I was somehow involved in getting him onto the booze, how stupid is that? And they don’t even let us visit, my own niece and nephews, except suddenly, four months later, there they are at our door with Rog, the oldest. They can’t handle him.

He was always my favourite. He never thinks before he says or does things, he’s always getting into trouble, he hates school. He’s exactly like me.

Vicky we got from Vandra. Her adoptive family wasn’t great. She won’t say why but she ran away when she was 14. I wish she’d come back to us, but she didn’t. She went to live on the street, but she did think of us when she got pregnant. And what’s more, her friend Annie brought us Cody, her little boy, when she couldn’t look after him.

So you might see us around, with the kids at the zoo or the park, or travelling in the old school bus I fixed up as a camper, and I know we look rough, the way Donna and me lived for so many years, it shows on us, our teeth are bad, our skin is bad, we’re not exactly the picture of health, but everyone’s happy, everyone’s doing all right.

It’s like I told Rog when he came to live with us, looking after the kids saved me, gave me something to do that was more important than drugs or booze. And then I thought about what I’d said and I got him a puppy to look after. And all the kids get a puppy or a kitten when they’re old enough.

It works for me. It works for them.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

Leave a Reply