Every year around Christmas, I think of a girl I went to school with briefly. Blanche was the new kid. She seemed lost. I guessed it was because she’d changed schools in the middle of the school year but it turned out to be a lot more than that. I felt so badly for her as her sad story unfolded.
Until her thirteenth year, Blanche had been the pampered only child of an older couple. Out of the blue, child services showed up to inform Blanche and her parents that her “biological mother” was now tuberculosis free, ready to reclaim her children from foster care. All this information blindsided Blanche. Within days, she was returned to her birth family, finding herself the second child and only girl in a family of seven children.
Blanche was devastated moving from a comfortable middle-class family into an impoverished family low on the social scale. They lived in an unpainted farmhouse miles from town with no bathroom. She felt like a workhorse with major responsibilities for the first time in her life. Her “old’ parents sent her a box of gifts at Christmas, but her “new” parents took them back to the store, exchanging them to get a gift apiece for each child instead. She got a steam iron for Christmas, since she was responsible for the family’s ironing.
My friendship with Blanche was short. One day the children weren’t in school. We heard they’d gone back into foster care. I always hoped Blanche got to return to her “old” parents like she yearned to.