A Future With A Hope

Laura Ihms

© Copyright 2001 by Laura Ihms

As I look back on my life I realize I never understood the meaning of love 
until I reached my early teens. This story which unfolds is my life and how 
I discovered the meaning of love and hope.

 There were no joyous screams of delight, congratulations or smiles the day I was brought forth into this world. The sterile-smelling room was silent as the nurse wrapped me in pink cloth and gently handed me to my mother. With a sigh of exasperation, which broke the suspense, my mother held me close.

 As I grew older, I remember no pleasant memories. My family was slowly being torn apart and this was revealed over the next year. Every day seemed to grow worse. My father pushed me farther away from his warm chest arguing that I was not his daughter. My mother became weaker. She would constantly shake, too afraid to go beyond the front door mat. My older siblings, practically adults, would come and go with no regard for the rest of us.

 One calm, cool day when I lay in my crib, my life took a sudden turn. I was nodding off to sleep when the black smoke began to pile and grow in the room. Not knowing what was occurring, I began screaming at the top of my lungs. A few moments later, a man with thick clothes and a yellow helmet peered into my crib and saved me from the fire.

 That day I was abandoned by my mother, the only love I knew, and rescued by a fireman. The fire scenario occurred a second time. The government took note of the "accidental" fire and took action: I was taken away from my mother and placed in another home.

 The next few years were painful, tortuous, and are distant foggy memories. For five years, I passed through six different homes. At each house I became more rebellious and hostile, lashing at those who truly cared and loved me.

 My mother consistently begged for me to come back. The government finally consented. For several years, while I was in foster homes, I took periodic visits to see my mother. When the visiting time approached, my caseworker, a young, caring woman, would take me to see my mother. The visiting periods with my mother were awkward and confusing. While I played, my mother would gaze unfocused, watching me, or she would talk to the caseworker. Being a toddler, I never understood why I was away from my mommy.

 As I grew older, I became accustomed to my way of life ­ being passed on like a used toy to different homes. Because of living with many families with different thoughts and beliefs about raising children, I became confused on what the different sets of parents wanted from me. Instead of conforming to their disciplinary actions, I established my own rules. When my way was not my parent's way I became upset and threw temper tantrums. Slowly I evolved into a bratty, unloving, and yet cute blond-haired girl.

 From the darkened hall each night in one foster home, my foster mother would impatiently yell, "Are you done?" With my pudgy legs swinging back and forth in front of the toilet stool I in turn began to yell back. I was required each night to show that I used the restroom before I went to bed. Believing my foster mother did this for her own entertainment, I acted on my own behalf and made her wait. I had no idea that this mundane act was for my good as well as hers.

 As I grew older and passed on to other families, my behavior only grew worse. At my last foster house my temper only escalated and I became known throughout the cul-de-sac. My screams could often be heard during the night when I threw a temper tantrum. When I realized I wasn't getting what I wanted I would throw myself onto the ground and flail my legs and arms around. My foster parents knew that the only way to quiet me was to wrap my body in a blanket and lock me in the laundry room. I never learned from my consequences. I spent many nights behind locked doors.

 Because of my reputation I was often left alone. One bright, clear summer day I was out at the gym set with a neighbor girl and my foster sister. Once at the top of the monkey bars I would jump, pretending to fly. I felt I was in a different world until my legs touched the ground. After the exhilarating experience, I ran inside to retrieve a toy. When I came back outside I saw an empty playset; my "friends" had left me. Finding myself alone I ran hurriedly under a table. Sobbing wildly, I pleaded for my mother ­ someone I never knew. I only wanted to be loved.

 It came to pass again for me to be placed in another foster home after my sixth home. This last move was different, though. I was being placed in a permanent home. I was going to be adopted. As a six year old, my feeling were mixed about my future home. Would this new home be like all the others? Would I be loved? I would have two brothers my age. Would they play with me?

 The day soon arrived for me to be taken to my new family and home. Shyly I stood by my foster parents as my new parents' car drove by. A tall, dark man stepped out from the car and firmly shook the hand of my foster dad. When my possessions were all placed in the white car, I calmly said goodbye to my old parents. As we drove away, I glanced back one last time. I was going into a new life. What lay ahead of me would forever change my life.

 My new parents (note: not foster) were told about my problems of temper tantrums and disabilities. And with this news they took action. With a firm hand my parents set the rules down: there were no temper tantrums allowed and I was to act my age. With these new standards I did not get along with my new family.

 With any incident that I did not get my way, my tantrum would begin. With the new rules in motion my parents would take action. While I screamed my dad or mom would hold me down. Eventually I would quit my fit. My other trick of getting what I desired was to not act at my mental level. When people saw me acting retarded they would take pity on me. I went to many therapists and they all came up with the same conclusion: I had a mental deficiency. I knew the truth but this would change.

 In my new kindergarten there were two classes. One class was for the advanced students while another was for the slower students. With my act of mental state, I was placed with the lower students.

 Another change, which occurred when I was placed in my permanent home was that I no longer visited my birth mother. My adoption was closed which means that my birth family had no connections with me. I had a new mother and father who were devoting themselves to raising me.

 Within a year my relationship with my family began to change. One memory, which I will forever hold, occurred on one dreary, boring summer day. My younger brother wasn't doing anything when I approached him. I asked to play Brio Trains with him and his face lit up with his dimples showing. We played for about an hour until my dad poked his head around the corner. Seeing us play so well together he asked if we wanted a Popscicle. Like best buddies, we smiled at each other and we have shared many memories together since.

 I don't know exactly when the final change took place. Recently, when I asked my mother if she remembered when I quit my tantrums she told me a story. She said that one day when I was about seven she asked me why I quit throwing fits. My answer to her was that I quit because my dad told me to!

 Around the age of eight I quit my silly behavior and habits. I saw that there was no use to always get my way. I also quit my retarded act. Why not act to my full potential? My change in behavior came in time. When I turned eight my parents adopted two more girls who were in need of love. I needed to be an example.

 It was around the age of fourteen when I truly discovered the meaning of my parents' love. During one of the moments when I was daydreaming and looking back in my life, I saw my parents' continuous love and care. One of the best ways to thank someone is to be grateful, loving, and caring. I now try my best to do this each new day.

 With my new attitude, I have succeeded. I am now at the top of my class academically. I am president of my 4-H Club. I am an All-State volleyball player and I am an accomplished artist and musician. I know that because of my parents' support and love I have a future with a hope to succeed.

  Laura Ihms is a 17 year old junior at Surrey Garden Christian School in Arizona. She has 2 brothers and 4 sisters, one dog and one bunny. She has been writing stories since she was 9 years old. She plays varsity volleyball, basketball, and soccer. She plays the viola in the school orchestra and is in a string trio called the "Trinitones". Laura is an avid gardener and works part-time as a technician in an optometrist's office. Laura plans to get her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

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