For My Sweet Adia – Wherever You Are

About a week ago, I began listening to the songs on my iPod in alphabetical order. I came across a song I hadn’t listened to in a long time.

Adia by Sarah McLachlan.

It was released about 5 years after we gave up our foster daughters. The first time I heard it on the radio I had to pull over into a parking lot. I was sobbing and couldn’t drive. It was about my “Adia” – that sweet, innocent and damaged 6-year-old girl who lived in my home for almost a year.

She still lives in my heart. And this song is for her.

“Adia I do believe I failed you
Adia I know I’ve let you down
don’t you know I tried so hard
to love you in my way” – We tried. We really, really tried. And you and your sister seemed so happy with us. But court date after court date after court date – the judge would not sever your biological mother’s rights. Even though she was still turning tricks. Even though she was still using. Even though she bounced from apartment to apartment. He kept giving her another chance. And while he was giving your mother chances you were being held in limbo. Wanting to attach to us, wanting to know that you were safely where you belonged.

“Adia I’m empty since you left me
trying to find a way to carry on
I search myself and everyone
to see where we went wrong” – We held on as long as we could. Yet, I still feel guilty. I still feel as if I should have done more to keep you safe. At the last court date, when the judge gave your mom another 3 months (again) to get her act together I burst into his chambers. I shouted, “We’re offering to pay for their college education and you’re telling me I’m going to be paying for their prison term. ‘Cause that’s were these girls are headed if we don’t find them a safe, healthy, permanent home!” He told me if I didn’t leave I’d be held in contempt. I sulked out of the room, defeated.

“there’s no one left to finger
there’s no one here to blame
there’s no one left to talk to, honey
and there ain’t no one to buy our innocence” – But he didn’t live with us. He didn’t see the night terrors. He wasn’t missing steak knives and scissors. He didn’t find the food you hoarded and hid in your pillow case or your backpack. He wasn’t there to clean the feces off the bathroom wall after every supervised visit with your mother. And he wasn’t there when all of that behavior died down about a week after that mandatory, monthly visit. He couldn’t hear the laughter and silliness return. Those three glorious weeks when you and your sister almost magically turned into two lovable, normal, happy little girls again.

“Adia I thought that we could make it
I know I can’t change the way you feel
I leave you with your misery
a friend who won’t betray
pull you from your tower
take away your pain
show you all the beauty you possess” – I want you to know – sweet, amazing girl – that at the time we accepted you in our home I thought it was the perfect decision. I thought that we could make it. And then, when we had to let you go, I thought that was the right decision, too. I’m crying, now, as I write this – even though you left almost 17 years ago. I still think about you. I still wonder how you are. I still pray that you feel more joy than pain. And I hope you know how beautiful, how lovely, how amazing you are.

“’cause we are born innocent
believe me Adia
we are still innocent
it’s easy, we all FALTER,
but does it matter” – And I still get angry that such an innocent, amazing, sweet  little you was abused by your mother’s boyfriends, discarded by your mother and tossed about the court system. Property. Because of biology. When what you really needed was love and caring. And there are plenty of people out there willing to give it.

But humans aren’t perfect.

Our system isn’t perfect.

And you. Innocent you – who didn’t ask to be born in the first place – had to suffer for it.


Filed under Be-Causes, children, Music

26 responses to “For My Sweet Adia – Wherever You Are

  1. I can totally empathise with this post Jane, not because I have ever fostered children but because I used to work at the women’s refuge here on the Island. I have seen so many children destroyed by their parents unfit to care for themselves let alone anyone else. There were children that I wanted to scoop up and take home with me to give them hugs, warmth and safety, but the system just doesn’t allow this. I was so frustrated with the way that the whole thing worked. It can be an unfair and cruel world at times but I like to think that if we can make just the smallest difference to someone’s life then we have achieved something.

  2. I have always loved this song. It’s just beautiful. I never knew what it was about, though, and I can see why it really spoke to you. (You really need to write a book, Jane.)

  3. I’ve loved that song for years. But it’s never gotten to me as much as just now, reading it along with your story. What an amazing woman you are, Jane. I had no idea you’d had foster children before. (Maybe I missed that post?) The pain you describe here is gut-wrenching. I’m astounded by your strength.

    By the way, I’m with Jana. Your stories just keep coming and I keep lapping them up. I would devour your memoir.

    Thanks for this beautiful, if painful, post.

    • You and Jana are too sweet. I’ve never thought my life to be that much more interesting than anyone else’s life, however. I’m just muddling through like the rest of you!

  4. Jane this post and the story you tell of these children is just heart wrenching. I do not honestly know what more you could have done than you did – which is far more than most people would ever do.

    We have looked into the foster to adopt program as not being able to have another child of my own I would love to give a child in need a home, but as we are not US citizens we are ineligible.

    Is there any way now that these children are grown that you could track them down and find out what happened to them? If it were me I would so want to know but can appreciate that no doubt the laws of the land would make it hard to do so.

    • Actually, I’ve held onto their SS#’s with the intent of someday trying to find them. They were two sweet (yet damaged) little girls back then. Some days I want to know what has happened to them. On other days, I just want to treasure the happy memories – too afraid to find out that their lives may have only contained more pain.

  5. Oh Jane – another beautiful post full of love, sadness, pain and happiness. I don’t always comment but I love when your RSS feed (or whatever it’s called!) arrives by email each day. I never know whether I’ll finish the post with a huge smile or tears in my eyes.

    Today it was the latter. You gave these young girls more than a glimpse of normality – you gave them your love, your time and a chance to experience another world – I’m sure that both of them will cherish these memories, just as much as you, wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, forever.

    I adore Sarah McLachlan and have all her stuff – and this song is a stunner – all the more poignant now.

  6. This is a beautiful tribute Jane. God has given you such a big heart and the gift of words to convey your message to others. I pray that both girls are safe and healthy, wherever they are!

  7. I appreciate your sharing this experience Jane. Our friend has provided emergency care for abused infants for a few years now and recently learned that she was approved for adoption.

    As you stated so eloquently, the child did not deserve the horrible circumstances.

  8. This was so achingly sweet. You may just be “muddling through like the rest of [us],” but you have a way of sharing it that not many can equal. I hope you will hear a happy ending to this story someday. Thanks for sharing~

  9. What a sad, sad tale… Oh, Jane, I can’t even imagine how much that must hurt, needing to let go and let those girls go back to a place where they won’t be taken care of properly and won’t be loved. I’m positive that you did everything in your power to help them, and I’m sure that they remember you, too, even if they were young when they live with you.

  10. That song is an old favorite–but I’ll never hear it again without thinking of this story. I’m gnashing my teeth, it’s so unfair.

    How generous and open-hearted of you to take in a foster child; I’m so sorry it ended the way it did.

    I can completely understand your dilemma about finding out what’s happened to them…could be good, could be…oooh. ((hugs))

  11. secretlifeofjane

    Great post, Jane. Gave me goose bumps and made me cry.

  12. This is heartwrenching. And beautiful at the same time…

    It’s truly sad that the court system doesn’t look necessarily at the human element, just at the law and in turn destroys rather than helps individuals like Adia.

    I would probably do the same as you and have the SS#’s but not sure whether to follow up and find out more or just remember what was. Beautiful post.

  13. That song always makes my heart ache…such bittersweetness there.

  14. This was heartbreaking. It takes a strong woman to love so fiercely and let go, even under the best circumstances.

  15. Beautiful. And sad. Our system, as you said, does not always work. Our system, unfortunately, too often punishes the wrong people. Our system, too often, is administered by people with inadequate training, intelligence, experience and common sense. So the children suffer.

  16. I was just listening to a radio program about people in Manitoba (Edmonton?) complaining that the child welfare system in trying to consider the best interests of the child was ignoring parents’ rights. Geez, if we’re choosing which is more important…? I can’t imagine what this did to you.

  17. Jane, you have me crying. Life can really make you wonder somtimes. When I was growing up the family next door to us would always take in foster children. Getting to hear those kids laughing and happy in the yard was such a gift to see.

  18. Wow. Oh, wow. Compassion, love, open heart. You are amazing.

  19. [expletive edited because it’s not Jane’s style], Jane. I always felt that song deeply because it’s so full of love for a hurt girl.
    I’m so sorry for your lost girls. I’m so sorry for your family. I’m so sorry for our f—ed up justice system because nothing you described is justice.
    Ugh, Jane. [different expletive deleted, again for sweet Jane.]

  20. Jane,

    This is so powerful. I applaud and admire you and your family’s efforts.

    I am so sorry that this is not one story, but so many children’s stories.

  21. Heart wrenching and why so many of us won’t even take the first step. But you did. No matter what turns those girls life’s went down after they left you…part of the story of their lives included a family that cared for them, advocated for them and loved them.

  22. Jane, I didn’t know that you were a foster mom. But I am not surprised to learn that. Your heart is so big! This post breaks my heart. I will add my prayer for the girls too.

  23. bearyweather

    This was very powerful. I applaud you for fighting for someone that could not … for taking chances and following your heart.

    Your words show me that you are a very wise woman. Thank you for sharing this, we can learn a lot from the tough experiences of others.

  24. I was a foster care social worker, but trained as a family therapist. I saw the same thing happen. Over and over. I don’t know if I could go through that with the grace you did. After what I’ve seen, biology means sh*t to me. (Maybe somebody should make me a family court judge and then there’d be some changes.)

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