My Heart Is Heavy


A few days ago I found out that my two younger sisters had been found through one of those DNA tests. 


This led them to a distant cousin on the paternal side of my family, the side I never knew. And ultimately to me. 

It has taken me a few days to absorb and digest what I've learned.

Years ago I heard that they had been left with paternal relatives who loved and wanted them. But for some reason social services unexpectedly appeared at their door one day and took them away.

The girls were adopted together. Their names were changed.

In an email, I have learned some of what they endured.


I used to think the worst thing that could have happened to them would have been living with my mother as she traipsed through life, blowing from place to place like a leaf in the wind. While my father served time in prison.

Instead, they were locked in dark closets, abused. Treated like chattel. 

Innocent children handed over by the state to people who should never have been given the right. 

And then treated like slaves.
 
Here are just a few sentences from one email. I have blanked out names.

"They didn't love us, but in front of others, especially the many extended family members, we were paraded around, cutely dressed & given pretend affection. 

"It was strange enough that the boy they'd adopted as a baby, who was 9 when they got us, was clearly adored & spoiled, not forced to do any work. We even took our weekly bath after him, in his dirty water. And we had a well, free water!

"I remember once we were working in the garden & for some reason, Mary started beating her with a hoe. 

"Once in the kitchen, she picked up a dining chair & beat her for separating a rotting strawberry into the good pile. She seemed unable to defend herself, so I came to her defense often, jumping on Mary to try & pull her off, pulling her hair, etc."

 
These people were not parents, but wolves in sheep's clothing. Preying on the innocent.

I used to wish I'd been adopted. To wonderful Beaver Cleaver parents that would shower me with love. 

Now, not so much.

***

"She said he had always molested their own female blood relatives. I told her she was as guilty as if she'd participated, as she knew it happened. Then she revealed that her brother Virgil, who had "committed suicide" when I was 7 or so, was actually murdered by Leo because he was about to turn him in.

"Leo told us, when I was 8 & Linda was 11, that we were going to leave. Three years later, on a rainy school morning, he said "I'll drive the girls to the bus stop". We never went back. We first stayed at Holiday Inn, in the honeymoon suite."
***

I think perhaps, out of six children, I came out the most unscathed of all. 

The sister who wrote the above email is quite ill with MS, as is another sibling. 

She has never married and has no children. I don't know much about the other sister yet.

My heart is heavy for all they endured. I hope they find some degree of peace. In an imperfect world that did little to protect them when they needed it most. 



77 comments

  1. I'm so sorry..this revelation is both terrifying and joyous. I have a friend that lives in Alberta who found lost cousins the same way. He life was not easy and she also suffered abuse(at the hands of her own blood parents)and has many health problems, but to this day remains content with life and has moved on..I hope your relatives can be the same.

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  2. Brenda, my heart breaks for all children who have endured abuse. To find out that your sisters were treated this horrendously must hurt so much. I am so blessed that my Mother took good care of me and I learned to be a good parent from her. Sending you hugs.

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  3. Oh Brenda, I am so sorry for you and your sisters. I'm always amazed at how cruel the world can be. I hope that you and your sisters can get through and forge a bond. It sounds like having a loving person like you in their life would be such a blessing.

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  4. Hard information to deal with.... my sympathy for your sisters and for all children who are not treated with love and respect.

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  5. oh Brenda.
    there are simply no words for this kind of pain. on all counts.
    where are the guardian angels for these little ones? one has to wonder.
    are you strong enough for real contact? they're grown now. perhaps it's better that you just heal your own heart and love them from afar.
    easy enough to say. for a stranger that doesn't begin to know all you have gone through. just... be careful. you're very dear to a lot of us.

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    1. That's actually probably what I will do. After all, we all live in different states.

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  6. Brenda, I'm so sorry you received such dreadful news about your sisters. As we all know, there are no depths too deep for the human spirit to sink, no acts too depraved that the human mind cannot commit. On tge other hand, we need to remember that there are people who are the the total opposites of those type of people. People who are indeed loving, kind, and nurturing.

    That is why some if us go about our day and greet others with a smile and a kind word. We have no idea what paths they have had to trod to bring them to where they are today.

    I think you'd agree that your blog readers are kindred spirits with you, coming from the second group of people. Your kind treatment of Israel is proof that you make a difference in helping others improve there lives.

    You are distraught over not being there to help your siblings and hearing what they had to endure.

    Even though I know you are comfortable with hugs, let me give you some virtual ones instead. ((hugs))

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  7. To say I am sorry or I understand your pain seems so trite. I am mystified by this kind of behavior. You have come out of a hideous situation a lot stronger than you think you are. For that you should be proud of yourself and take credit.

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    1. I have come to see that even though I was the child that was sold as an infant, the other five ended up in far worse circumstances. I feel lucky.

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  8. I too was abused and molested as a child and even though I feel (at age 68) I've gotten past it, I don't think you really do. It just manifests itself in health issues. Children, the elderly and animals, I absolutely cannot abide any kind of mistreatment and am now very bold when I see it happening. At least with getting older you are usually more bold in speaking up. Please keep us posted on your sisters. My heart breaks for all they endured. Humans can be so cruel to each other. Love your blog and the way you are posting now. Just reading about your day, its like having a cup of coffee with you. Like a short conversation with a friend! Thank you!
    Claudette

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    1. In my opinion, I don't think you can ever truly move past it, though I'm not in your shoes. It is part of what formed you. I am so, so sorry. It was a death. The death of a childhood. And just like any other murder, the perpetrators should be held accountable.

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  9. I am so very sorry for what your sister's have gone through and what has turned what should have been a joyous reunion into so much pain. I do not understand why people treat others so terrible and especially children who put so much trust in parents/adults because once that trust is lost I do not believe it is ever recovered completely. My prayers for you and your sisters

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    1. I ran across a quote the other day that mentioned that those with the most power wreak the most damage. Hard to understand that those who should have loved a child more than anyone, chose to use and abuse them instead.

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  10. Brenda, I ache (grieve) for you & your sisters. My sibs & I grew up like you and your sisters. I carry the physical & emotional scars inflicted by my mother. In foster care off & on. Yup, one family had their children bathe in their own water--the three of us foster kids shared the water (once a week)--I had clean water one every three weeks. I survived, just as you have. I agree with Tammy, to a point. I'm guessing you need your sibs, HOWEVER, take your time, you're still dealing with the issues around your one daughter. Regards & hugs, Sandy

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    1. I'm treading slowly. Whereas earlier in my life I might have been more willing to jump right in, I just don't have that in me now.

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  11. How very, very sad, Brenda. I am so sorry for the pain that this causes you. I'm wondering if you are considering having a relationship with your sisters. I know it would be difficult to have this knowledge and not try to sort of "compensate" them for their awful experiences" but you have no way of knowing what that might mean to them. I would worry that they might take advantage of you or have unrealistic expectations of what you could do for them. As the previous writer said, "Be careful." You might need more information before you decide how involved to become. I do understand the desire to be compassionate and helpful in some way, though. I think it's important to first take care of yourself in relation to carrying the pain of this new knowledge. You might want to talk to someone you trust about the situation. Perhaps a friend or even a counselor or pastor. I'm so sorry you have this burden to carry right now. Again, take good care of yourself first as you won't be able to help your sisters effectively and keep your own health and sanity. Remeber, as much as you might like to, you cannot erase the damage that has been done to them.

    I send you love and peace and strength.

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    1. I've been down this road with another sibling years ago, and it didn't turn out so well. So I will be more vigilant this time around.

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  12. Good God it sounds as if they took foster children in to use as slaves. I just can't fathom it; I am so sorry.

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    1. I think that's exactly what they did. Back then, fifty years ago, it would have been so easy. No computers, no way to thoroughly check backgrounds. Just hand children over.

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  13. What can I say that wouldn't go too far.. grrrrrrrrrr.. Those people who harmed those children are less than animals. Animals don't abuse each other, they may kill each other, but thats for food. We humans, supposedly above all other species on earth, perpetuate horrible, devastating acts upon each other for no reason, except to be evil. My heart hurts along with yours.

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    1. You're right. Some people are just downright evil.

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  14. Brenda, I am so very sorry. My heart aches for your sisters and you. Words seem trivial in the light of this great sorrow but words are all I have at this moment. You are in my thoughts and prayers and I'm hugging you from a distance.

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  15. This is so bitter sweet Brenda, happy that your sisters have found you, but truly awful what they had to endure. No human should go through this pain and suffering, to be abused and treated this way is sickening. I hope that the future holds peace and new enjoyable memories, things to smile about and laugh together. Sending hugs across the pond. Chel x

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  16. How unspeakably horrible. I am so sorry for all that each of you had to go through....

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  17. Brenda, this post is heartbreaking. Many thoughts run through my mind, as I am sure are running through yours. I am here if you want to talk about it. I will be praying for both you and your siblings. Please take your time in processing this information and pray for understanding and guidance, as I believe nothing happens in our lifetime without a reason and a teaching.

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    1. I am taking my time. I have learned that to rush into things can be the worst thing you can do.

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  18. I am so very sorry. I cannot wrap my mind around such horrific things that are done to children. Words are not adequate for me at the moment...my heart hurts so much for all of you. You and your siblings will be in my prayers.

    xo
    Pat

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  19. Oh Brenda...this is heart wrenching. It's something I cannot fathom and will never understand. I am so very sorry. I am hoping it will give you all a little comfort to have found each other. xo

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  20. People who think that "Leave It to Beaver," "My Three Sons," "The Donna Reed Show," and "Father Knows Best" were reflective of reality at any time in history are living in la la land. The reality is that what your two younger sisters experienced happens to children everywhere around the world every single day, every single second. The truth is, we have no idea what is going on in the house next store with that family, or across the street, with that family. The ones who see the results are the teachers, and they have been abused, accused, accursed, degraded and muzzled from speaking out by a society who blames THEM for every single ill that has ever befallen the face of the Earth. The truth is, it starts and ends with each and every one of us. We see abuse, and yet we stay silent; we suspect abuse, and yet we stay silent. We are abusers ourselves, and DARE anyone to interfere with OUR "parental rights." Wives stay silent while the worst kind of abominations take place nightly under their roofs. The only wonder to me is that we have as many rational, sane adults as we do, and that more parents/relatives/siblings aren't killed by children and teenagers who finally decide to fight back.

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    1. I know here in OK teachers' pay has gone down and many are leaving for other states. How can it be that they pay teachers and policemen so little when they are so important? I don't get it.

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  21. I'm so sorry Brenda.....that is a lo to take in. Bless you dear.

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  22. It's so, so hard to understand how anyone could abuse a child. It's just unthinkable and unforgivable. Maybe you and your sisters can be a source of strength for each other after all these years.

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  23. Oh my Brenda...I am so very sorry! I can't imagine how hard it must be to take all this in; praying for you!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  24. Oh my word, how awful. I can't even imagine. So sorry for your sisters. Yes, I think you came out the best.

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    1. There was a time when I would have laughed at that assertion. Only to find out that it's true!

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  25. I was raised by wonderful parents so thank God for that. My heart breaks for children of abuse. I can't wrap my mind around the thoughts going through these horrible people's heads that this horrible behavior is in any way acceptable. I think that's where that phrase "behind closed doors" comes from. My heart aches for you and your sisters.

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  26. I do not understand why or how these things happen, especially to children. But I will keep you all in my prayers. Somewhere I have 2 older half sisters. I was the product of an affair and was adopted by the best family ever, I hope those sisters have had a good life with their parents though I will most likely never know them as MI adoption records are sealed.

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    1. That's what happened in this circumstances. We could not find them due to sealed records. And tragically, these children's fate was sealed when they were adopted by these people.

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  27. Oh, Brenda! I'm so sorry to hear of all of the abuse of your sisters. There are so horrible people out in this world. I do pray they both are at least peaceful at this time in their lives. Do they live anywhere near you? Will you go to visit them? I know it was hard and you don't have to answer me. I don't know what I would do.
    Blessings,
    Shelia ;)

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    1. We all live in different states. I know one is disabled from MS. I think the other is disabled in some other way. And with my ankle, I can't drive far. So no, I don't think there will be visits, at least not now.

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  28. This is so heartbreaking. I'm so sorry.

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  29. Oh, Brenda, what horrible news and yet bittersweet as one commenter said. You have found your sisters but to hear their stories breaks your heart anew. i was raised in a dysfunctional albeit not physically abusive home, have been a foster parent and now work as visit supervisor for a private foster care agency which gets referrals from the state agency. i don't know many details of the lives of the children that i transport to visits with their parents but i know enough to know it is, in many cases, horrific. i see the faces of the children whose parents couldn't take the time to show up for a once weekly visit with their little ones. As someone reflected ~ it's a wonder there as many sane, well-adjusted people as there are in the world. Or is everyone hiding behind a mask of some kind. i'll be praying for deep inner healing for you and your sisters.

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    1. Tragic, isn't it? No one knows what masks others have to wear to hide their pain.

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  30. I can understand why your heart is heavy. Wow. We really never know what another human being has lived through, do we? I am sorry this happened. There is NO excuse.

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  31. That's hard news to hear. It sounds like their abuse has never left them. You may be their shining light. They may need an older sibling to help them get the help they need. Have you talked to them? I still wonder about that grocery store encounter where the clerk knew your last name. You may find out that you don't want them in your life. My adopted son found his sibs and parents and the reunions have not worked out. But you won't know unless you reach out. Hugs

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    1. You have such a great memory! For those who haven't been reading that long: one day while living in TX, which would have been probably 7 years ago, I was in the local grocery store. And the clerk thought I looked very much like someone she knew. She thought the resemblance was uncanny. She asked if that person could have been a sister. I told her I didn't know.

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  32. I have no words, just deep sorrow for all your family has endured, Brenda. I will never, ever understand how people can be so cruel. Sending hugs and prayers to you and your sisters.

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  33. My heart is crying with yours over the abusive and harrowing life your two sisters have had to live. I pray every day for abused children, praying the police will find and rescue them immediately. Texas has an state organization that is supposed to keep tabs on these children and they have been in the news lately for not doing their job and there have been children killed by foster parents and real relatives. People have been very concerned in Texas and now Governor Abbott has raised the pay of these underpaid agents who visit children and their caregivers and ordered the state to hire many more of these agents so every child will get a visit soon after they are on the list so the agents can assess their homelife and care.

    I am a cautious person, Brenda, and I would require concrete proof that the sister who contacted you is really a sibling. People can find out almost anything about you from your blog and set up a scam which could be expensive and heartbreaking if she is not really your sister. For instance, she could ask you to sign on a loan for her and if she stopped payments you would be liable just as if you yourself had received the money or new car or whatever the loan was for. Just because you are not wealthy does not mean you could not be a scam target. Be very careful.

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    1. You're right. I tend to be too trusting. I will be careful, I assure you.

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  34. I am so sorry. God bless you and your siblings. Karie

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  35. Bless you all Brenda...you have carried these girls around in your heart for so long..and then you find this out...I hope that the three of you may find some sort of peace together..Hugs

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  36. I'm so sorry, Brenda. But please tread carefully with this new knowledge as it might not be true or a ploy for a scam of some sort. That being said, my husband was adopted as an infant and suffered much abuse from his adoptive mother, then later he met his biological siblings and they wound up trying to scam him for money... Sad all around. It's a cruel world, but there are good and kind people in this world too, thank goodness. Take care, Brenda.

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  37. The truth is stranger than fiction, isn't it? All of those lost years and all the heartaches they shared and now you share them, too. Some people should never have any contact with children and it seems that was the case there. xo Diana

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  38. Brenda how sad for you to find this out about your sisters. I hope as you learn why this is coming to light now in your life that you can endure what will come next. This is really heartbreaking.
    Kris

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  39. I am very sorry this is the new experience you must endure. Children are often thrown under the bus; history has so many examples of child abuse. Adults really can be lecherous monsters & have perfected the method of putting on a good public show. Abuse happens much more often than we all want to admit, be it physical and/or emotional abuse. Remember to take care of yourself with this new burden.

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    1. It makes me very sad. But it was a long time ago and I don't have the power to change it.

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  40. Somehow, this is hitting me all wrong. Be very careful. You are a beautiful, compassionate, trusting person who always wants to find the good in people. Customarily , family connections of some type are established before any personal information is given. To just cold e-mail someone with that sort of information, not even knowing for sure it is the " right" person leaves me suspect.
    I know you are an intelligent woman. Try very hard not to let your emotions override your common sense.

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    1. Well, the people involved were asking them about their life, so it wasn't a cold email. But I am being careful here and wary as well.

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  41. I am moved and sad for you. Please re-read and give careful consideration to comments by Kari and Lily. Sadly, their instincts may be accurate. It never hurts to move with caution. Thinking of you in this new situation.

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    1. You're right. And I am being careful and cautious.

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  42. Wow, that's awful, I'm so sorry for you and for them.

    Tania

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  43. Oh, Brenda, your poor sisters, what unspeakable horrors they must have endured. I'm so sorry for them....and you. xo

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  44. Words fail......
    I am so sorry!

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  45. this is so heartbreaking and sad, I don't know what to say.

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  46. Brenda, This is a lot to take in and process, I believe God had a hand in them finding you, but still be careful and not move to fast but this might be the closer you have been needing. And for your oldest daughter I am praying for that situation, everyone makes mistakes, I am sure she has but until she realizes this she will have the same issues and after you are gone it's to late to try and mend things, she may not think so but she needs her mother, as for the abuse of your sisters there is going to be a special place in hell for anyone that abuses innocent children, if they ask for forgiveness of their sins they still have to stand before God on judgement day, for all the abused children in the world I am so sorry you had to endure and will carry these scars for all of you you are worth everything please don't let this define the rest of your life's.

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    1. My daughter and I have both made mistakes, but I don't know that she would agree with that assessment. Actually, this knowledge about my sisters has put that situation into better perspective.

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  47. I can find no words that would ease your pain that you have experienced when learning about your sisters. So very heartbreaking and sorry that this happened to innocent children...I hope you are able to re-unite with them.

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  48. My heart is heavy to you and your sisters,and all the pain you must feel.

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  49. Poor girls, Brenda. I hope they can find some peace and comfort in their soul. So very sad for them. Thanks for sharing your story. Lifting up a prayer for them and for you.

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  50. Terribly sad. I have never understood how an adult can intentionally harm an innocent child. But there are some monsters out there. I pray they and you will find peace.

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  51. Oh Brenda, This is a very cold world for so many children. It's because of stories like this that I continue to be a foster parent, even though I am so tired at times, I'm grateful that I still have what it takes to help two or three children at a time. The last two children (toddlers) that I had were molested by their mother and her friends, very selfish and cruel people. I'm waiting for two more to arrive any time now. I pray every day for the strength to love and protect these little and big ones. Hugs, Cindy

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Brenda has been writing since grade school. She majored in professional writing/journalism in college, where she won awards for her feature writing. She loves to decorate, garden, enjoy nature, read and spend time with her Yorkies.

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