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Sundered Siblings

Sundered Siblings

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Published by George Pollock
In order to take his four younger siblings -- all living in separate foster homes -- on an outing to Boston, Billy Stone must move heaven and earth. Not understanding the word "no," he does so.
In order to take his four younger siblings -- all living in separate foster homes -- on an outing to Boston, Billy Stone must move heaven and earth. Not understanding the word "no," he does so.

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Published by: George Pollock on Mar 29, 2007
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01/01/2013

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George Pollock State KidIssue 59
Sundered Siblings
The others. What had become of the others?Always, wherever Billy had been -- a foster home, a fugitive on the run, a prisoner, andnow a free man -- he wondered about the others; two sisters, two brothers, all younger, allabandoned, all living in separate foster homes, all waiting for a mother who never came,and now all waiting for a mother who
never 
would come.Where were they? How were they coping? Were they being terrorized by Stojak-likefoster parents? Tortured by the family's natural kids? Wearing cast-off clothes? Afraid toask for a glass of water? Did they hate themselves? Were they sad-faced and starved for love? Had they given up?As these dark questions suggest, he feared the worst. The five of them had been split uplike puppies. It had been nine years since four had been placed in foster care. Raymond,now nine, was not yet born; three months after he was, he went into foster care. Onoccasion, Mary and Rebecca had lived together in the same foster home and so hadRaymond and Vincent. They sometimes passed each other in revolving doors of foster homes.With the help of Miss Casey's contacts at the Department of Social Services, Billylearned that none had been adopted. All were living in separate foster homes in four different Massachusetts towns. All had moved around frequently. Like most foster kids,they had had a series of social workers.He learned that the state did try to find one home for all five, but never came close. DSSfound people willing to take two of the siblings, but never more than two.“I hate to tell you this,” Miss Casey said, “but five was never an option because nobodywanted five kids and, in particular, nobody wanted you. They took one look at your fileand said, 'Sorry, we are not self-destructive.'”“Thank you.”“You're welcome.”“I wonder if the others feel the same way about me.”“Why would they?”“It wasn't just our mother who abandoned them. I did too.”“You had to survive yourself.”“I didn't try hard enough. I know that now.”“Well, what's stopping you now?”“After I get my driver's license, I was thinking of taking them to Boston. The five of us. No foster parents. No mother. No social workers. Just five kids on a Sunday afternoon
 
outing to Boston to run around on the Boston Common and see the city.”“You'd never get permission to take them out in a car by yourself. A parent or socialworker would have to drive. They'll tell you that the DSS is responsible for those kids 24hours a day. The idea of letting five kids -- sorry, Billy, they consider you a kid, too -- gooff in a car by themselves would be unthinkable.”“So, basically, the five of us can't go to Boston together.”“Billy, at DSS nothing is simple. Why don't you call your brothers and sisters?”“I don't want to call them up out of the blue. It's too cold and too casual for something so big. I don't want disembodied voices. I want to see their eyes and I want them to seemine. And, to be honest, I don't want to give them a chance to say no. Unloved kids tendto push people away, you know.”“Who's the licensed social worker here?”***In between his flourishing social life, studies, revising his book, working with MissCasey doing promotion -- and trying to keep Vera from constantly popping into histhoughts-- Billy went on excursions to scope out his blood brothers and sisters. It had been so long since he had seen them that he was not sure he would even recognize them.To help him, he carried copies of old photographs from their files, again thanks to MissCasey's DSS contacts. (Their mother's dream home, though a department store of furnishings, had been bare of photographs of her five children.)David Weatherall, a brand new graduate of Fairfield University and working at hisfather's company, drove. They scoped out foster homes and schools, cruisedneighborhoods, conducted surveillance -- and managed to get glimpses of all four siblings.They saw ten-year-old Vincent coming out of school. Instead of getting on the school buswith the other kids, Vincent walked off alone. They tailed him as he walked home, adistance of about three miles.Billy said, “His clothes don't fit. Why is he walking all that way? Why is he by himself?”They spotted nine-year-old Raymond in a playground not far from his foster home,tossing a football with a couple of other kids. They sat in the car and watched him untilthe other kids rode off on their bikes and Raymond left, walking.Billy said, “No bike. Look what he's wearing -- out of a ragbag.”Billy spotted fourteen-year-old Mary on the front steps of her foster home, sitting alone,flipping through a magazine. It was a fleeting glimpse because when they turned aroundfor another look, she was gone.“That was definitely her,” Billy said, holding up her picture. “Did you see her face? She'ssad.”Twelve-year-old Rebecca was the last to be spotted, in the back yard of her foster homehanging out laundry. “Look at her,” Billy said, “beaten down like some kind of whippeddog. Let's get out of here.”“You're going to put your suit back on,” David Weatherall said.
 
“Why do you say that?”“I see a certain look.”“Well, you're right. Except it's not going to be one of your old hand-me-downs.”***They drove to the swanky men's clothier where David Weatherall Sr. had bought suits for many years. David introduced Billy as a close family friend. At the mere mention of theWeatherall name, the longtime tailor to the Weatherall family, a balding older man withfringes of gray hair slicked straight back and a tape measure draped around his neck,smiled and sprang into service.He appraised Billy for size with an expert eye and the sure manner of one used to servinga better class of customer. Not wishing to take up a young gentleman's time unnecessarily by showing him suits, he made the selection himself as was his normal practice withclients -- he had no “customers”-- such as the Weatheralls.Accordingly, he helped Billy into an expensive dark blue business suit. Crawling over thesuit with his nose to the fabric, he pinched, pulled and fussed. He stretched his tapemeasure over every fabric plain, from crotch to cuff and across the shoulders and, havingBilly raise his arms, down the sleeves. He chalked the suit for custom alteration.“When will you need it, sir?”“Tomorrow?”“Of course.”He was used to such demands. At these prices, it would be his pleasure to accommodatethe young gentleman. When Billy offered to pay cash in advance, the tailor wouldn't hear of it and insisted that the suit be put on account.When Billy returned the next day, he tried on the custom-altered suit. He looked in themirror and smiled. Now this was a suit to strike fear in a DSS bureaucrat's sense of jobsecurity!***Billy placed a call to Richard McFardle at DSS, who was still going strong as director. Hewould not take his call. Nor was he able to make an appointment to see him.
Okay ...
Early the next morning, he showed up at McFardle's office in his stylish blue suit exuding power and money and carrying a briefcase to match. He hurried past the secretarystationed outside McFardle's office as if she were a piece of furniture. As he did, he said,”The traffic is crazy. Gridlock is
here
.”Before the secretary could recover, he was in McFardle's office. A startled McFardle said,“What the hell -- you don't have an appointment. I'm busy.”“Fine. Read all about it in the Sentinel.”“What are you talking about?”“Foster kids abused, beaten, turned into domestic slaves, fed garbage...”

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