As the age-old children's song goes,
Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in his sight...
Hi. My name is Billy.
Iím 8 years old, though I look younger Ďcause I'm small
for my age.
For as long as I can remember I lived with my mom.
Because we never really had a home, we stayed in all
different kinds of places.
Usually we stayed with my momís friends.
We had to sleep on the floor, and sometimes, I think
mom forgot to feed me.
Iím 8 years old, though I look younger Ďcause I'm small for my age.
For as long as I can remember I lived with my mom.
Because we never really had a home, we stayed in all different kinds of places.
Usually we stayed with my momís friends.
We had to sleep on the floor, and sometimes, I think mom forgot to feed me.
After a while, Mom's friends got tired of us, so we moved into a shelter for homeless people.
It was actually pretty nice there. I had my own little bed, I got to eat three meals a day, and there were a few other kids there for me to play with.
We were only in the shelter for a little while when I woke up one morning and saw mom crying.
She always looked sad and kind of tired, but this was different.
Her long dark hair was all messy, she had the same clothes on that she had worn the day before and her eyes were all puffy.
She was packing my worn out little brown suitcase.
"Why are we moving now?" I asked.
At first she didn't say anything. She just cried more. It was sort of weird.
Finally, she told me she loved me, but she said she just couldn't take care of me anymore.
She said she had some problems to take care of so that she could be a good mother to me. Until then, I had to go live with someone else.
I cried even worse than when I scraped both my knees. I thought maybe I was just having a bad dream.
A lot of times, I wished for a life like other kids had. I wished I had a home and maybe even a dad, but even without that, at least I was used to the way things were. I really didnít want to have to go somewhere else.
Mom hugged me, promising that someday we would be together again and I cried even harder.
After a while, she finished packing my stuff and a lady with short brown hair and glasses came to talk to us. Her name was Annie and she was a Social Worker. Under her arm was a folder full of papers that my mom had to sign. Annie said she found a nice home for me. She called it a "foster" home.
She told me I was going to live with a nice family who would take very good care of me, but I was scared. What if these people didnít like me? What if they didn't feed me?
Mom pulled me close, kissed me and hugged me for a very long time. "Everything will be all right," she whispered over and over again. Then she started to cry.
Soon it was time to leave. Annie promised I would see my mom very soon, but I didnít want to let go. Why was this happening to me?
Annie took me to the doctor. She said I needed a check-up to make sure I was in good shape before I went to the foster home.
The doctor was a short, older man with no hair. He looked in my ears, and my mouth. He weighed me. He measured how tall I was.
He even checked my hair for bugs!
When the doctor was finally finished checking me over,
he gave me a lollipop and told me everything was fine.
When we left, I started to think the doctor had made
a mistake. My tummy was all funny inside, like I was gonna be sick. I
wondered where my mom was.
When we left, I started to think the doctor had made a mistake. My tummy was all funny inside, like I was gonna be sick. I wondered where my mom was.
Annie told me it was OK to be scared. She said I could cry if I wanted to. I just looked at her. Iím 8 years old, not a cry-baby. I rubbed away the tear in my eye.
Annie smiled and pushed my hair back out of my eyes.
"Sometimes things happen to us," she said. "We don't always know
why, and even though things seem pretty bad sometimes, it gets better
every day." I hoped she was right.
Annie stopped the car in front of a very big, white
"This is it," she said. "This is where you are going
to live for a while.
There are some other foster kids here and thatís almost
as good as having a brother and sister of your own."
I wasnít sure if Iíd like that. I'd always wanted a brother,
but this was different.
Annie stopped the car in front of a very big, white house.
"This is it," she said. "This is where you are going to live for a while.
There are some other foster kids here and thatís almost as good as having a brother and sister of your own."
I wasnít sure if Iíd like that. I'd always wanted a brother, but this was different.
The house was probably the biggest house I ever saw. It had lots of windows with matching curtains on them and a very big yard. There were pretty flowers all over the place. Itís the kind of house my mom would love. Annie said we could sit in the car until I was ready to go in. It took a while. Even when I went to get out, my heart was pounding like a big drum.
Annie took my hand and smiled again. She gave me a card with her phone number on it and said I could call her anytime I needed someone to talk to. Under her arm was another folder full of papers for the foster mom to sign. Carrying my suitcase and my toys, we walked up to the front door.
An older lady answered the door. She was kind of small with gray hair, and told me her name was Fran as she shook my hand.
The house was like no place I had ever been before. It was clean and it smelled like cookies. There was nice furniture in every room!
"There are two other foster children living here," Fran said. "They should be home from school soon and you can all get acquainted over a plate of cookies, fresh from the oven, but first, let me show you around."
As we walked through the house, Fran told me that her kids were all grown up and living far away now. She said her husbandís name was Paul, and that he was at work.
We stepped into a room that had little pictures of puppies all over. "This will be your bedroom," she said.
I had to take an extra breath. I'd never had my own bedroom before. This one had twin beds with soft green blankets, and it had a dresser to put my clothes in.
Fran offered to help me put my stuff away, but I told her I could do it. After Fran and Annie left to sign the papers, I looked around the room.
I put some of my stuff away, but then I started to think about my mom.
My tummy hurt worse than before and I started to cry.
When Fran heard me, she came in, gave me a hug and told me we could unpack later.
It was time for Annie to leave. As I said good-bye I had never felt so lonely.
Back in the house Fran asked me if I wanted to help get the snacks ready for the other kids.
There was a ten year old girl and a seven year old boy who had lived here for a long time. Thinking of Mom again, I told Fran I would be leaving very soon.
Soon a school bus drove up to the house and dropped the kids off. They came running inside and seemed very excited to see me, since they had known I was coming.
John told me his name first. He was about my size, and he had curly hair and was missing one front tooth. He said his missing tooth helped him whistle better.
The girlís name was Angela. She was taller than me, with long black hair and a shy smile. As we ate our cookies, they told me everything would be OK. Because they were foster children too, they said they knew how I felt. And that was kinda nice.
When we finished, John and Angela showed me around the house. Johnís room had blue walls with posters of baseball players hanging all over the place. There were two beds in his room, but he only used one of them. Even his blankets were covered with baseball pictures. He told me I could play with some of his toys if I asked first. Then he showed me which he would share and which ones were too special to share. That was OK. I brought a few toys of my own, and Fran said I could play with anything in the playroom down in the basement.
Angela's room was a little smaller. This one also had two beds, each with pink blankets. Everywhere I looked there was a teddy bear picture. Angela offered to share her toys too.
Soon it was dinner time.
Paul came home from work just as we sat down at the table.
He was the tallest man I had ever seen in my whole life!
He had gray hair and he was wearing a suit.
As he shook my hand, he smiled at me and said, "Welcome to our home Billy!"
I think he really meant it.
I can't remember ever having a dad, so even a foster dad was going to be something new.
Dinner was really good. We had chicken and vegetables with cherry pie for dessert. I wondered if they had dinner all the time here.
My mom forgot about food sometimes and maybe Fran would too. Just in case, when no one was looking, I stuck a piece of chicken in my pocket.
When I was excused, I ran up to my room and put the chicken under my pillow. If Fran forgot dinner, at least I would have something to eat.
After dinner I played out back with John and Angela. There was a swing-set, a sand-box, and a basketball hoop. We had fun, and for a little while, I almost forgot about being sad. When it started to get late, we had to go in and take a bath to get ready for bed. Fran helped me because I didn't know where anything was. She showed me where to put my dirty clothes, where the towels were, where the soap was, and she gave me a toothbrush.
After my bath, Fran told us all a bedtime-story, and
then it was time for bed.
As Fran and Paul tucked me in, Paul noticed a funny smell in my room...like chicken. All I could do was hold my breath. Should I tell them about the chicken under my pillow? What if they got mad and yelled at me? I swallowed hard, then reached under my pillow and pulled out the chicken. I told them that I'd put it there just in case they didn't have time to make me dinner tomorrow. They both smiled and promised that they would never forget dinner. I felt tons better. Fran gave me a new pillow case, because mine had chicken crumbs all over it. Then they shut off my light and left me alone so I could go to sleep.
In the dark, I started missing my mom all over again. I'd had to sleep in lots of strange places, but Mom had always been there to protect me.
Now, she was gone. I started to cry. I worried that maybe if I liked it here too much they wouldnít let me see my mom again.
Fran and Paul must have heard me crying because they came in to my room, sat on the edge of my bed and we talked for a while.
They said if I wanted, I could use a spare twin bed and be a roommate until I was ready to have my own room full-time, and that made me feel a little bit better.
A week later, Annie picked me up and said it was time to visit my mom. I was very excited. I was all cleaned up and dressed in a new pair of jeans and a new red shirt that Fran had given me.
We had our visit in a special place where Annie said families like mine could spend some nice time together. There were a bunch of other families in different rooms. Annie took me to a room with a couch, a table, a few chairs and a stack of coloring books with crayons.
At first I was worried because I didn't know if my mom would come. Annie had called the shelter and they said my mom was on her way, but she was late. We waited and waited. Finally, she came! I was so happy to see her. I ran up to her and gave her a great big hug. I could tell she had been crying, but she was happy to see me. She looked really nice. Her hair was fixed up really pretty and she had new clothes on too. She didn't look so tired either.
Mom gave me a present, a picture of us together. I told her I would put it in my room at my foster home.
Annie let us talk for a while then she said it was time to go back to Franís.
Still, I didn't want to leave my mom again. Annie said I would see her every week and Mom promised not to be so late next time. We both cried as we kissed each other good-bye.
When we got back to the house, Fran was waiting for me by the door. She said she missed me and asked how my visit went. I told her all about it. I told her I felt sad because I missed my mom. She said she knew how I felt, because sometimes she misses her kids too. I think she really does know how I feel.
I've been here at Fran's for a while now. I'm getting used to the way they do things here, and I think they're getting used to me.
Sometimes I still get sad or angry, but not as much as I used to. I know Fran and Paul will take good care of me here in my foster home.
My mom said she's glad I'm living with a nice family. And Annie says that someday soon, I'll be with my mom again.
So many of our visitors have asked if a book version is
available. It is.
Add it to your own library. Give it as a gift. It's
a very special book.
About the Author:
A former resident of Cleveland, Ohio, Valerie Busic now resides in Florida with her husband and children. Valerie and her husband have been foster parenting children of all races for several years. In addition to her writing, which initially began as a hobby, Valerie is a Realtor, and she homeschools her two eldest children. Check the Author/Illustrator Directory for other tales. Send email to Valerie Busic
Billy's New Home is Valerie's first published work.
Because it is such a powerful piece and gives rise to so many questions about
foster-parenting, Bedtime-Story is pleased to provide the following for grown-ups:
|Interview with Valerie Busic
About the Illustrator:
In addition to being a talented artist, Jeff Meyers, is also a very talented writer. Jeff makes his home in South Carolina. He enjoys writing fiction for all ages and has been drawing and painting all his life. His artwork includes cartoons, illustrations, computer graphics, and still life drawings. When he's not working at his computer, Jeff spends time with his wife and two children, making as many trips to the beach as they can. Jeff has additional examples of his artwork on display at Bedtime-Story. See more of Jeff's art in The Goggle Eyed Green Hairy Monster And Me and The Goggle Eyed Green Hairy Monster Returns, and Gilbert Henry Tries Again which he wrote as well as illustrated. Jeff was also kind enough to submit Visions, a striking illustration of an African American child and her grandmother, inspired by the story The Ragdoll, for the opening page of the African American Bedtime-Story Collection. Check the Author/Illustrator directory for a complete listing of Jeff Meyers work. Contact Jeff at Jeff@thejeffworks.com or visit his new website: The JEFFWORKS for Creative solutions to your communication needs.