Thursday, July 21, 2011


In my job, I have a strict personal policy:  NEVER get emotionally involved in the stories you cover.  It's easier said than done.  But, over the past 20 years and after covering hundreds of stories, I have indeed put up a bit of a wall.  It's thin, but it's there.  And as a journalist, it keeps me from bias, helps foster compassion and non-judgement, and allows me to tell a fair story.

Then, my TV station news manager asked me to take over our adoption series, "A Place to Call Home."  And suddenly, it's as if my personal policy just quietly flew out the window. 

I should've known after the first shoot with this sweetheart, Courtney.
I cried on my way back from the Little Rock Zoo, which is where we shot our story with her.  Which also breaks another personal policy of mine:  NEVER cry at work.  I just believe personal business should stay personal and not become professional.

In the few days following our shoot, I found myself slightly irritable at work and at home, a little down, and sobbing when my children did something sweet.

Then, after a few days, my bad mood was over.  I just chalked it up to 'that time of the month,' it was getting hot out, whatever.

But then, it happened again, when I met these precious babies.
No mom. No dad.  Desperate to find a family to love them and care for them.  That's all they want.  And yet, in the afternoon I spent with them, you could never see their heartache.  They were so delightful, so innocent, so full of life.

That night and the two days that followed, I noticed I had low energy.  Just sort of down.  But I STILL didn't make the connection.

Not until I met three more sets of children -- did I figure it out.

Not after meeting the three siblings who hugged me...
... played and laughed with me at The Wonder Place.  We talked that day about what it would mean to have a family.

Not after introducing Marcus and Hailey to former NBA star Joe Kleine...

What a treat for them to eat their favorite barbeque and shoot hoops with a legendary professional athlete!

It happened after spending the day with darling Amy...
Apricot Girls Boutique hosted us, and 12-year old Amy was pampered!  She had her face painted, her hair spray-painted, and her nails done.  She sang karaoke, and she danced, two of her most treasured dreams.  But her biggest dream:  finding a mom and dad to love her for the long haul.  We laughed, and we cried together as she shared her heartbreaking struggle and her unwavering faith that a mom and a dad will come for her.

For me, more of the same mildly low feeling in the days to come.  But absolutely NOTHING compared to what these beautiful children have endured.
That's when I figured out that in those days that followed our shoots, our meeting these foster children, I was emotionally involved in their stories. It's impossible for me not to be, because, I, too, desperately want them to find families.  I want to take away their suffering, their pain.  As a mother, I want to take them in, make their struggles disappear, care for them, feed them, put a roof over their head, and most of all, love them, which is our most basic human need.

I love this Karl Menninger quote:  "Love is the basic need of human nature, for without it, life is disrupted emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically." 

I think for most of us, it is a natural human state to want to help and love others who cannot help themselves.  So, I suppose I will relax my rule of not getting emotionally involved in my stories, but just in this case. I will cry with and for these children, and I will laugh with them, too.  I will showcase their lives to the best of my ability, and tell their stories to anyone who will listen and watch. 

And I will pray --and then pray some more-- that loving families open their hearts and arms and bring these children home. 

This blog is dedicated to every foster child in the world, especially those in Arkansas state care.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good thing green is his favorite color...

...because going to the dentist sucked today.

4-year old Jackson informed me on the way that if the dentist even tried to touch his suspect (i.e., decayed) tooth, he would bite him.

"No, you most certainly will NOT bite your dentist," I barked.

"But mommy... (long pause)... Yes. I will."

So, the bribes began early.  Because I can't have a child even thinking it's okay to bite his dentist.  Or anyone else for that matter.

McDonald's for breakfast, the promise of a special "treat" when all was said and done at the dentist's office, and the added pressure of setting a good example for little sister.

I was so stressed about this appointment.  Boy already had one cavity at age 3.  And getting that filled was a nightmare.  Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this adventure.

Still, in my mind, I'm trying to be positive:  We've only seen one spot that looks like a cavity, and he's just getting a cleaning today anyway.

Walked in with our sausage biscuits and hash browns (nice).  So far, so good.  It's a pediatric dentist's office, so there are toys and cartoons.  Even better.  They call his name for his X-ray, and he gets the GREEN frog chair.  Score!

Bless his heart. 

But honestly?  It's going so much better than I expected!  No meltdowns, no tantrums from either child.  Then, after his X-ray, sweet boy gets a GREEN toothbrush to take home, which excites him beyond measure...

AND he gets the little dental stall with the GREEN chair.  Thank God.

But just as I was whistling about how great things are going, the dentist has his look-see, and the news is not good.

Poor thing brushes twice a day, only drinks water and milk, and doesn't eat a whole lot of sweets.  But the dentist says he has "localized enamel hypo-dysplasia," which is a fancy phrase for rotten teeth.  It basically means the enamel on his teeth didn't "lay right" when his teeth were coming in, so he has rough spots where plaque builds up and causes decay.  The doctor showed me the spots and promptly informed me that he needs two silver crowns in the back and two, possibly three, areas filled.

Deep breath.  That's enough to make a grown man cry.   Meantime, little sis was taking it all in herself, eating her sausage biscuit.  Wonder what she's thinking?  Is she next?  Did her enamel "lay right?"

Regardless, I was so proud of my boy!  He did so well, he was so proud of himself, and I was proud of him.  No tears, no biting.  He walked out smiling, with his little bag filled with stickers, his GREEN toothbrush, and the treasure he got to pick.  I took him to Target like I told him I would for a "treat."  All the while, I was dreading the day he doesn't know is coming.  The one in 4 weeks, when he is sedated for crowns and fillings.

You can bet, that day, I'll be reminding him that GREEN is the best color ever, his favorite.  And the dentist's office has GREEN everywhere.