As Medda walked into the orphanage, she heard yelling and . . . no, that was about it. She mostly just heard yelling. Several kids ran past, of course, yelling. One almost tripped over her feet, stumbled but then kept running. And yelling. Another kid actually fell over her feet.
Medda immediately leaned down and helped her stand up. She looked to be about 11 or 12 with short blond hair and blue eyes. Medda put her hands on her shoulders to steady the kid. “Whoa, slow down, baby, alright?”
She smiled up at Medda with a big toothy grin and then turned around and continued running. And, of course, yelling. A very, harried, busy, and stressed looking woman came up to Medda.
“Hi, are you,” she checked a paper attached to her clipboard, “Medda Larkin, by any chance?”
“Yes, I am,” she proclaimed, offering a hand to shake, which the other woman apparently didn’t see. She was occupied in glancing around at the chaos in the room.
“Thank God,” the woman said. “We have too many kids here right now. It’s overcrowded. I’m glad you’re able to take 3 of them.”
“I’m glad I’m able to help.” medda followed the woman down a hallway to a room with a closed door. “Their social worker is there to talk about a few things, then when you’re ready, I can grab the boys for you.”
Boys? Medda though she was getting 2 boys and 1 girl. Oh, well. She must have simply misspoken.
Just before walking back into the main room, the woman turned around, “Sorry, I almost forgot to do introductions. I’m Esther,” she offered a handshake to Medda, to which she accepted. Better late than never.
Medda smiled, then turned and opened the door behind her. A man was seated at a desk, seemingly the only furniture in the room. She sat down at a chair across from him.
“Hello,” she said politely. “I’m Medda Larkin, the new foster parent.”
“I’m Bryan Denton, their social worker,” offered the man, standing up and shaking Medda’s hand before sitting down again.
“Okay, there are a few things you should know before fostering these kids,” Bryan began, pausing to look at Medda. She nodded for him to continue and looked down at the stack of papers in front of him.
“Well, you’re going to get three boys. Their named are Jack, Charles, and Anthony. Anthony is transgender.” He looked up at her again, this time in apprehension. “That won’t be a problem, will it?”
Medda was a little bit surprised but easily accepted the information. “Of course not,” she smiled.
“That’s good,” Bryan also smiled.
He told her more about the boys before Esther walked back in. “You all done?” she asked. They both nodded.
She went back out and a few minutes later walked in again with three boys.
One was rather tall, about 14 or 15 years old and had darker skin paired with dark brown hair and eyes. He had a solid, strong face that was currently being used to glare at her. A slightly younger boy entered behind him. This one had sandy blond hair and an apprehensive expression on his face. He was leaning on a pair of crutches. The third one looked to be about the same age as the second boy, although maybe a little bit younger. He also had blond hair, though the two were definitely not related. This was the kid that ran into her earlier, Medda realized. Who she had mistakenly thought was a girl. He smiled at Medda, seemingly recognizing her from earlier.
She smiled genuinely at them, "Hello, I'm Medda. It's very nice to meet the three of you."
The blond kid she had seen earlier came up to her and proudly announced, "I'm Anthony!"
"Well, it's very nice to meet you, Anthony. Do you mind if I call you Tony sometimes, too?"
"I like the name Tony," he nodded enthusiastically.
"Me too." Medda looked at the other two boys, "And what're your names?" She, of course, knew their names but it was better if they told her of their own volition.
The other blond-haired boy stepped forwards and said matter of factly, "I'm Charles. He hesitated before adding, "But you can call me Charlie if you want."
"Hi, Charlie." She turned to face the last boy questionably.
He grunted out, "Jack," before laying a protective hand on Charlie's shoulder. Medda raised her eyebrows. He seemed distrustful of her; Jack had probably been wronged by the system in the past, like many other foster children.
“Well, I’m very glad that I am able to become your foster parent,” she said, kneeling down to put her hands on Tony’s shoulders, who grinned up at her.“Are you ready to go home?” she looked at the other two boys. Charlie shook his head eagerly, while Jack gave a curt nod in acknowledgment. The four of them walked out of the office with Bryan following behind them.
They stopped at the end of the hallway. Medda turned to the boys, “Do you have anything you want to bring with you.?”
“Yeah!” Anthony practically shouted. “I’ll be right back,” he told Medda. He and Charles rushed up the stairs to where the bedrooms were, presumably to grab their things, with Jack following more slowly.
They came back down the stairs rather quickly holding only a few possessions each. Medda frowned. That would have to change.
She smiled at them and asked, “Ready to go?”
“Yeah!” yelled Tony.
“Uh-huh,” Charlie said, a little more quietly.
“Sure,” grumbled Jack.
“Okay,” responded Medda, about to walk out the door before getting an idea. She turned towards Jack and told him seriously, “I know it’ll be hard adjusting to a new foster home. And I also know that not all foster homes are the best. But I will tell you one thing. And that one thing is that I will never disrespect you, mistreat you, lie to you, yell at you, or treat you badly in any way.” She looked at him kindly, “All I ask is that you try. Just your best to adjust and I’m sure we'll be just fine.” Jack had tears in his eyes, which he quickly wiped away. “Thank you,” he told Medda.
She nodded, then turned and offered a hand to Tony, “Okay, now are you ready to go?” He gladly accepted it and the new family walked out of the orphanage together. They were all smiling, even Jack who had a tiny smile on his face. It was the first smile of his that Tony and Charlie had seen in ages.
A lot more smiles would appear on his face throughout the years. They appeared a lot more frequently, too. But the biggest smile of them all would materialize when Medda announced that she was adopting the three of them, making their family official.