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Standing Up for Foster Children

June 11, 2005

Re "Troubles Continue at State Mental Hospital in Norwalk," June 6: As a foster child advocate, my travels take me to many corners in my quest to make a difference in a foster child's life.

One such occurrence was an invitation to a holiday party in 2002 at Metropolitan State Mental Hospital. Seated across from me was a former foster child. Her downcast eyes and shabby clothes created a picture of abject misery and wretchedness.

I introduced myself as a former foster child and now a foster child advocate. Her beautiful brown eyes rarely looked straight into my eyes during the course of that evening, but when they did, they mirrored mine -- and the same look that I once had as a overwhelmed, broken-in-spirit former foster kid. She said little that evening, but, with my questioning, stated that she had lost count of how many foster homes and group homes she had been in.

When it was time to leave, I said goodbye and went to the door. Suddenly I turned, and there she was in the middle of the room, standing all alone with her misfit clothes and her clunky shoes and her palsied arm trembling intensely. My heart broke for her all over again.

I went back over to her and put my arm around her and gave her a hug. It was then that she looked up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and quietly asked, "Madelene, what's an advocate?" To which I replied: "It's someone who believes in you." Her reply was without hesitation: "Madelene, will you be my advocate?"

Madelene Hunter

Palm Springs

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