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Am I Making a Diff erence? T


he urgency in my wife’s voice was unmistakable. “John!” she called out to me, a second time. In my 14 years


of marriage to my Australian bride, I had never heard such insistence in Kelly’s voice, and I found it a little troubling.


“Coming,” I said back to her. I was in the kitchen preparing dinner for the six children in our home, while holding our newest foster daughter in my arms who was screaming her small and fragile lungs to the utmost. Indeed, the 6-month-old infant had done nothing but scream since she first arrived the day before, along with her 4-year-old brother, Donnie. The tiny, underweight child was born addicted to the drug meth, our first experience with a meth addicted child. My previous research had taught me that babies born to mothers addicted to meth generally


suffer from a number of possible symptoms. Furthermore, I also found that these babies often suffer from brain damage, respiratory problems, neurological damage, organ damage and general poor health.


Melinda’s nonstop screaming was probably due to the fact that the 4-month-old was easily agitated, due to emotional problems, and sadly would most likely be for the rest of her life. Easily agitated; that would explain why she screamed, kicked and fussed every waking moment. My heart had immediately been broken when I found that this tiny little baby, innocent in all ways, suffered due to her biological mother’s selfish need to take the illegal drug. Handing her over to my oldest 11-year-old daughter, I rushed into the bathroom, hoping to discover the cause of Kelly’s distress.


When I arrived into our bathroom I found my wife sitting next to the bathtub, with tears streaming down her face. “What’s wrong?” I promptly asked. During our years of marriage, and our time in the international performing group Up With People, where I first met Kelly as we traveled across the globe singing and dancing in front of thousands live, and millions on television, I had never seen her speechless before. Visibly upset, she had no words for me. Again I asked her, “What’s wrong?”


As she tried to gather herself, Kelly pointed to the child’s head, whereupon she feebly said between sobs, “Look.”


Peering down at the 4-year-old’s blond hair, I was unable to see the cause of her concern. “I don’t see anything,” I replied.


18 FOSTERING F AMILIES TODA Y I MA Y/JUNE 2015 I WWW .FOSTERINGF AMILIESTODA Y .COM


FOCUS: Honoring Advocates During National Foster Care Month


focus BY JOHN DeGARMO, ED.D.


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