By August 6, 2007, the girls' 487th day in custody, ten-year-old Sara struggles to remember the home she had lived in all her life. She draws it from memory and creates an enormous diagram, detailing each room with a numbered key listing furniture, doors and windows.
Her drawings are straight, but her handwriting runs downhill, a common sign of depression.
Her kitchen diagram is accurate, but it longs for the human dimension and nourishment that her mother had drawn in their journals:
To keep her spirits up, Sara makes a list of THINGS TO DO ON OUR FIRST DAY HOME.
Her dream-activities contrast to life in the shelter, where staff use television for rewards and punishment, profanity is a constant, and strangers say her mother has mental problems. The first item on Sara's list is "Wash clothes so they smell good." Here is the list:
Wash clothes so they smell good
run around in back yard
play piano together
play a game
do arts & crafts
flop on our bed
go for a walk @ the beach
go to Home Depot to get stuff to build clubhouse
plant in garden
Sara's 11th birthday arrives before that month ends. After more than 500 days in state custody, DCYF moves the sisters out of the shelter. They give Molly to her father in another state, and they send Sara to yet another foster home.
DCYF seems intent on breaking Sara's spirit, convincing her that her mother has mental problems, forcing her to visit her father. Why?
From now on the sisters will see each other during their mother's visits at the DCYF office for two hours a week.
Confidential comments may be sent to Anne Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org