Penny – a One Child Now story

Penny

A #OneChildNow Story

“Sorry I’m late,” Linda said running through the classroom door. 

“It’s OK…” Cindy began.

“It’s been such a day. From the car breaking down, to the little one being sick right after I dropped him off at daycare. It’s just been a nightmare,” Linda was trying to catch her breath. She was obviously exasperated from the day and just needing Cindy to take the venting.

Penny came from around the corner holding her lunch box in her hand, her other hand holding onto her backpack strap.

“I’m very sorry to hear about your rough day,” said Cindy from behind her desk.

“No, no. It’s fine now,” Linda was finally catching her breath. “Come on, Penny. Let’s get out of here so that Ms. Cindy can finally get home.”

“Actually,” Cindy started, leaning forward onto the desk, folding her hands. “I wanted to know if you had a few minutes to talk.”

“Oh, OK. Is it about Penny?” Linda was confused. “oh, no…”  she thought to herself.

“Umm…yes,” answered Cindy. She gave Linda a look with wide eyes. She obviously didn’t want Penny in the room during this discussion.

“Hey, honey,” Linda turned around to Penny, “Daddy is inside the car with Byron. Go ahead and tell him I’ll be right there.”

“OK,” Penny answered in her soft, sweet voice as she skipped out the door.

Linda walked toward Cindy’s desk. She was still puzzled. This was the last thing she wanted to do was deal with another issue.

“First, I just wanted to see how you were doing,” Cindy said softly.

“What do you mean?” Linda was confused as to why they were having this conversation.

“Penny told me today that she was moving soon. Going to live with her Grandmother, I believe she said?”

Linda paused for a moment. She was an emotional wreck and had been for several days. After fostering Penny for two and a half years – longer than her youngest, Byron, had been alive, Penny was being reunited with a family member.

“Oh…yes,” Linda tried to gather herself and find the right words. “It’s definitely been somewhat of a shock. We knew it was a possibility, but due to how long it’s been…” Linda stopped there. She knew Cindy could fill in the rest of the answer. Both ladies sat their quietly for a moment. Both just trying to gather their thoughts.

“As you know,” Cindy started, “I’ve been with Penny over the last two years. Moving from first grade to second grade, she’s grown so much and done so well.” Linda’s frown began to drop a little bit as she tried to hold back a tear. She looked down and up again to gain composure.

Cindy continued. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a moment to tell you this before everything occurred, but I have to tell you that I believe you’ve been a fantastic mother to Penny.”

Now it was hard for Linda to hold back her tears and sniffed loudly.

“Thank you,” Linda barely said, still holding back her tears.

“I have to tell you how she told me,” said Cindy as she reached for a tissue to hand to Linda. “Today during a quiz, Penny kept humming out loud. It was very soft for the most part, but you could still hear her. Especially on the high notes.” Linda and Cindy started to both laugh.

“I had to tell her a few times to ‘shoosh’ but after about 2 minutes, you could start to hear her again,” Cindy continued with her story. “Finally I called her up to my desk and asked her why she kept humming after I told her not to.” Cindy started to chuckle to herself before she continued. “I was kind of annoyed that she didn’t seem to mind at all either.” Cindy’s southern accent always came out more when she seemed to be surprised or annoyed.

“Oh my word,” Linda responded, shaking her head with a smile. She brushed away a tear under her eye as she sat back. Then finally scrunched up the tissue as she folder her hands on her lap and crossed her legs.

“So she’s standing right here in front of me with a big ol‘ smile,” Cindy continued. “And then she says to me ‘I’m practicing.'”

Both ladies laughed.

“I said ‘practicin’ for what?’ Then Penny said ‘practicing my church songs for my Nana when I meet her.'”

Linda’s mouth slowly dropped. It’s as if time slowed down at that very moment. Cindy leaned forward slowly and reached out her hand. As Linda sniffled, she also leaned forward toward Cindy.

Cindy grabbed Linda’s hand with both of her and said “I know that no matter what happens in Penny’s life, you’re going to be a mother and someone she will always remember. The woman who introduced her to Jesus.”

Now Linda was crying, but with a smile. She used the hand that Cindy was holding to wipe away tears with her used tissue. “That’s why we do what we do,” Linda said under her shaken voice.

Linda walked back out to the van where her kids were. Byron was crying and Linda’s husband turned toward her.

“Where have you been?” he asked.

Linda just smiled back at her husband. But before answering him, she turned back toward Penny.

“Penny, what song were you practicing today?” asked Linda.

Penny didn’t answer. She just began to sing. “

Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Ohh, my soul…” As she continued to sing “Ten Thousand Reasons” Linda’s heart just melted. This is the first time since hearing the news that she felt peace and understanding. While she was going to miss Penny dearly, she knew the Lord had her in His hands.

 

Penny is a fictional character based off of children we encounter every day. The primary goal for social care is to reunify children with their families. Either with the parents after the case plan is finished or with a family member that can care correctly for the child. Only if neither of those options are available does adoption become possible for foster parents.

While many foster children are adopted by their foster families, sometimes it’s a story like this. That is the hard journey for any foster parent. But that is why we keep an open heart. God is the ultimate Father of these children, and He uses us to be a part of their lives in multiple ways. It is our duty to care for the orphan in their distress. We have a golden opportunity in Tampa Bay to spread the gospel to these children, their bio families, and the caseworkers around us. 

As James says in Chapter one, this ministry belongs to all of us. Will you join us art A Door of Hope in our ministry to license more foster homes and take care of our foster children?