Open Hearts Needed

Won’t you please come get your baby…


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As a child I memorized all the songs and dialogue to the musical “Annie” and as the internet and You Tube and Netflix didn’t exist this was no small feat for a child of my generation.  It required convincing my mother to rent the movie again from the video store (we also had to rent a VCR if there was one available) and sneaking my grandma’s tape recorder and finding a tape that wouldn’t be missed (Susan Powter’s “Stop the Insanity” went first).  I would then have to find a time when my 4 younger siblings were either sleeping or otherwise silent to make my old-fashioned recordings of the movie soundtrack onto my tape for future playback.  Kids today have things so much easier–a quick Google search and all the work is done for them.  It took a bit more ingenuity in my time back when the dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

But a determined gal had to do what a determined gal had to do, and I was obsessed with the character of Annie.  When I think about it all my favorite books had characters like her–spunky, smart, fearless, charismatic, orphans.

From Annie to Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer to Mary Lennox and Sara Crewe, Jane Eyre and Heathcliff the fictional characters who populated my imagination all had a noticeable absence uniting them in a commonality.  All my beloved characters were missing parents and families.

My absolute favorite orphan had to be Anne Shirley.  In her I saw myself even though I had parents and plenty of siblings and a large extended family too.  But, all the same, I related to Anne and her imaginative, free-spirited, intellectual self. Anne Shirley was somehow a piece of who I was (on a tangent: Anne Shirley is an INFP on the Briggs Meyer matrix just as I am), and I admired her and wished to be her.

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I often felt I was adopted growing up.  I love my family–they are good people on the whole, but I am the outlier, the black sheep, the rogue daughter who has always been a challenge to understand and to parent.  In order to try to understand how I was so different and nonconformist I sometimes invented scenarios in which I had been left on their doorstep by my real parents or some other such nonsense.  The idea of adoption intrigued me.

When Cabbage Patch kids were the knock-you-out in the Walmart rage I knew I had to have one.  I wanted to be an adoptive mommy.  My grandma fought her way to getting me a blonde-blue-eyed girl doll named Karla Sheryl.  I loved her, and felt proud to fill out her adoption papers with the promise to care for her and be her mom.

But, one baby was not enough for me. My second CPK came to me via my father after I had my tonsils out.  I awoke from the anesthetic to find a green-eyed redhead (like Anne Shirley) named Clarissa Romney awaiting my maternal instincts.  And my grandmother again for Christmas brought me my third adopted baby doll an international CPK from Italy called simply Adriano. I was a happy adoptive doll mom!

When I think about how the seeds of wanting to adopt got planted in me I realize the stories I read and the toys I valued most all led to adoption.  But, it was in my late teens that I watched a Barbara Walters special on orphanages in China full of unwanted baby girls that sealed the deal for me.  I just knew that I would one day adopt.  I hoped to rescue some baby girls from Chinese orphanages.

My cousin was adopted from foster care, but I didn’t know it until I was 16. I had always thought she was gorgeous growing up, and as she was 14 years older than I am I had always watched and admired her from a distance.  I wondered how it was she had dark hair and brown eyes in our family full of blondes and light eyes, but it wasn’t until my grandmother spilled the beans that I understood the reality that she was different because she had been adopted.

As I understand it, my uncle who was a police officer received a call about a home full of children without adult supervision.  Upon investigation he and his partner discovered my beautiful cousin and her siblings living in squalor without their mother who had gone off with her newest lover boy.  My cousin clung to my uncle and begged him to take her home.  My uncle being a kind-hearted man under his badge somehow managed to do just that.  He took her home, and he and his wife made the scared child their own.

I couldn’t believe it at the time that my family was so close to the adoption scenarios I had created as a kid about my own origins.  But, alas, my butt-seat nose and fair Nordic complexion did not allow me to deny my heritage.  I was most definitely the biological child of my parents.  I look too much like my father for him or me to ever deny we are related.

But now I had a personal connection to an adoption story, and my seedling was taking root.  Fast forward to college when I met my beautiful Asian looking best friend.  Little did I know at the time that she had been adopted from the foster care system.  She would not tell me her story for another 20 years due to her feelings about how she came to know her origins and the stigma she felt over being adopted.

To me her revelation was another confirmation that I would one day adopt children who needed me, and because of my best friend, I now knew my children wouldn’t come from a Chinese orphanage, but instead as soon as I was able I would become a foster parent.

In 2006, through the county department of Social Services this goal became a reality, and not long after we became foster parents to a beautiful 22 month-old little girl. I remember sneaking into her room when we first got her to watch her sleeping by the light of the hallway.  I just wanted to make certain she was still breathing and to look at her beautiful face in such peace.  She stayed with us almost a year before returning home.  The beautiful thing was that her parents were grateful to us for loving their daughter, and I was asked to be my little angel’s godmother.


Since this experience we have fostered 11 other children.  Some have stayed short periods of a day or two while others have stayed years until they were able to return home.  Three of our sweethearts have stayed and will stay forever.  We adopted our oldest daughter just months after her second birthday, and we will adopt her foster brother and sister in the months to come.  My childhood dolls were discarded by my father when I went to college, but in someways I feel they’ve returned to me incarnate in the form of my three precious  children.

Now the point of writing all these memories is to encourage others (you the reader) to also give a child a home.  Every six months we get letters from the county asking us to help spread the word that foster parents are desperately needed.  I’ve told a few people here and there about calling the foster network, but I have always felt I needed to do more.   So, this entry is my attempt to ease my conscience and to more importantly help a child or children by opening your heart to the possibility of loving someone who needs you.

Orphan Annie and Anne Shirley got happy endings.  Other children deserve the same opportunity.

Please, check out: AdoptUSKids to see the thousands of American children awaiting a happy ending and the dream-come-true of a loving family.

National photo listing service for children awaiting adoption across the United States.

Foster Care Network 24-hour Hotline: 1-877-297-3303

Tell them Stacee Nunez referred you☺️!

Keep your children safe with this tracking device for kids!


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