We Americans have been in foster care for decades now. Every four or eight years we get shuffled off to the next house, headed by a new foster daddy. And we try to adjust to our new surroundings, which don't look terribly different from our last ones. Maybe there are some new gadgets.
And each new daddy smiles and pats us on the head and bounces us on his knee and tells us all the things that make us feel like we finally belong, that we finally matter and that our real daddy -- him -- is at last come home.
He has us listen to his pronouncements and his rules and tells us what our previous daddies did wrong and how he'll help us and love us better than they ever could.
He introduces us to his friends, some of whom it seems we've met before, who look at us and smile small smiles. And they have a party and we look at each other and shrug our shoulders and think "maybe daddy's really home".
And then things start to turn. He acts strangely. He gets angry. He rants. He waves his hands around. He calls some of his own kids names. He and his friends whisper and look at us and whisper some more. And we begin to hear stories about him, stories that seem to explain his odd behavior.
But then something happens and it scares us and we all do what children are supposed to do: turn to daddy.
Daddy tells us that we should be scared and we huddle, trembling, worried.
And daddy sends some of us out to fight some fight that he says we have to fight.
Daddy says so.
And some of us don't come back. We whisper among ourselves.
We fear our newest daddy has lied to us, has in fact been lying all along. He doesn't really love us. Just like all the rest. He's just another in a line of daddies that goes back years. We have vague memories of daddies past, a few who actually may have loved us well, and who we had clearly grown too fond of because the folks who run our foster care -- our daddies' daddies -- made sure that never happens again, lest a bond be formed that is too strong for them to sever. A bond that makes us all whole, all one, and a bond that would make their agendas and machinations weak and worthless. To them it's important that we foster children never remember our true parents or ever feel truly comfortable in our home. We must be made to stay hungry for love, lonely for any affection, and to eventually just accept it in any form, and to be grateful that we receive any attention at all.
Daddy is rarely nice to us anymore. He packs his bags and mutters to himself and whispers to his friends who never look at us at all.
This means it's time when a new bunch of daddies line up and tell us their stories and show off for us. They all say they want to take care of us but we're only allowed one of them. And we're told we have to choose. And we're told that we do.
But it's getting easier to tell that the daddies have other things on their minds than loving us. Maybe we're growing up, which is possible even without his love and attention. Maybe we're growing up in spite of the crap he gives us to eat, crap that he calls "nutrition" that tastes good but is really supposed to stunt us.
Sad, but maybe there'll come a time when we realize that we don't need any of these daddies at all, that they're actually hurting us,
And we realize that we have to take care of ourselves, rebuild our family and finally, really be home.