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Another Place at the Table Paperback – May 24, 2004
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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 Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
I so appreciated Kathy's wise perspective on the horrors and injustices she witnesses both in the lives of the kids themselves, and in the system those little ones are forced to be a part of. Had anyone else been telling those same stories, I would've had a hard time finishing this emotionally challenging book, but because of her compassion and wise attempts at maintaining a balanced perspective, I feel I have been enlightened on the subject, rather than left stewing in anger over the sad injustices that are exposed.
She somehow manages to simultaneously balance stating the facts and exploring her feelings and opinions regarding those facts, while still allowing you to form your own opinion. Kathy does her best to convince us she's not a saint... and I believe her, but I still can't help admiring her and hoping that one day I'll have even half the compassion, patience, love, and generosity that she extends to the children who have graced her home.
I hope this opens some eyes for people so that they can find some way to help. There is not enough money, energy, compassion, understanding or love for our own children in this country and that is sad. Children deserve to be children and have a childhood.