From Publishers Weekly
It's 1988, and Harrison, a happily married mother of three, takes a job with Head Start, working with at-risk four-year-olds. Her heart goes out to the foster kids; before long, she and her husband take state training and adopt two sisters. Five children make a big family, but Harrison finds it tough to turn her back on needy children. She and her husband start accepting emergency care "hot-line" foster children, too; soon, Harrison quits her day job and becomes a full-time-overtime, really-foster parent. In addition to a stay-at-home mom's usual duties, Harrison is caring for children with serious emotional baggage and often complex medical problems. There are lawyers, therapists and social service people to meet with, plus the scheduling of visits to birth mothers, an emotional roller coaster for all parties. Birth mothers, she finds, are often "harder to hate than you might expect," and when an especially difficult child comes along, it's almost impossible to accept that even foster parents have their limitations. And how do you "give enough" to each child so they get a healthy sense of family, "without loving them too much to let them go in the end?" With over half a million American children in foster care today, Harrison's personal but vitally important account should be read by public policy makers and by anyone with a spare room in their home.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
With so much awful publicity surrounding foster parenting, Harrison's story of opening her home to foster children, three of whom she later adopted, is tender and inspiring. It is also filled with heartbreaking truths about abused and neglected children and a social service system that is overburdened and occasionally negligent itself. For 13 years, Harrison, along with her husband, three biological sons, and three adopted daughters, has fostered abandoned infants, runaway teens, disabled preschoolers, and children discharged from psychiatric hospitals. The Harrisons also became hot-line foster parents, willing to accept children in emergency situations with little or no notice. Harrison describes the process social workers use to place children, the horrifying circumstances of the children involved, and the training required of foster parents. She brings her story home by focusing, with heart-rending details, on four troubled children, including Danny, a developmentally delayed eight-year-old; Lucy, a deeply depressed eight-year-old abandoned by her mother; seven-month-old Karen, eventually adopted by the Harrisons and later diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome; and Sara, a six-year-old who had been sexually abused. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved