Problem Child

As a social worker, you’re bound to come across some really messed up stuff. I’ve been at this job for nearly twelve years and I’ve seen everything. Joel was raised in a kennel with a dog, he was so small I thought he was two years younger than he really was. Andrea went into a doctor’s appointment only for the doc to find out the kid had contracted chlamydia. Sophia who had been tied to a bed and beaten to ‘get the devils’ out of her. Fynn had been choked for enough time by his stepdad to have permanent brain damage. 

But all of those kids have homes now. They were adopted by loving families, I send them cards on their birthdays. Joel is now a complete Potterhead and went to Florida with his mom during summer vacation. Andrea now speaks regularly at sexual abuse seminars and helps other victims come forward about what they went through. Sophia wants to be an astronaut, Fynn is beating the odds and making us all proud with all he’s accomplishing.

I can’t say the same for Bonnie.  

Bonnie only crossed my desk recently, her original caseworker had retired and no one wanted to do checks on her. I couldn’t imagine why until she was sent back into the system. That’s when I cracked open that file and gave it a long read.

No one knows where Bonnie came from. They found her in the backseat of a car that had been in an accident, the driver appeared to have suddenly swerved and ran into a tree. It killed him instantly. However, when the driver was ID’d, he didn’t have children that age. The girl wasn’t one of his relatives, and she was found in a worn out carseat that had the name ‘Bonnie’ scrawled on it in black crayon.  

As much as it irks me to say this, she was the perfect case for an easy adoption. Blue eyes, blonde hair, six months old and perfectly healthy. Exactly the kind of child that anyone would want. It’s no surprise to me that a lovely young couple brought her into their home within a week. I even found a newspaper clipping announcing that the Johnson’s family has grown by one. Cheesy, but cute.

But not even three weeks later and Bonnie was sent right back into the system, with no explanation other than ‘she’s a handful’. I did some digging and it does seem that the perfect Johnson couple were not nearly so perfect. A well check revealed that the garbage can was filled to the brim with wine bottles and Mr. Johnson had been fired from his workplace for embezzlement.

I actually looked them up to scrape up that last fact, I had gotten far too curious.

The next couple seems to be an even better fit, the Morrisons. They’d already adopted three year old Lily the year prior and they were excited to grow their family again. Mrs. Morrison was a teacher, Mr. Morrison was an accountant. Lily was a happy, healthy girl.

Well, she was.  

Two weeks after Bonnie joined their perfect family, Lily was diagnosed with leukemia. This was out of nowhere. It worked fast. Before the year was out the family had shrunk, and the Morrison family had to buy a coffin that should never have to be made so small.

Everything fell apart after this. Mrs. Morrison started having an affair with one of her students, Mr. Morrison came home to them in bed and in a rage he shot them both. The teenage boy didn’t survive but Mrs. Morrison did, although she’d never be able to walk again. During the trial it came out that Mrs. Morrison felt like she was no longer in control of her actions, she claimed she was sleepwalking when she seduced her student and brought him into her bed. Funny part is, Mr. Morrison said he had no idea where he even got that gun- he didn’t own one, and it wasn’t registered to him either.  

Obviously, little Bonnie had to be sent back into the system while her parents were sent to prison for statutory rape and murder.  

I wish I could say it got easier for her from here… but it didn’t. Not at all. It got worse even. Not every house was as perfect as the Morrisons could’ve been. There are so many ‘parents’ out there that are in it for the paycheck. Frankly, they got what they deserved when Bonnie entered their house.  

I was on the computer all night to see the path of destruction that laid in Bonnie’s wake. Housefires. Unexpected deaths, some explained, some not. Illness. Erratic and violent behavior. The most saintly of people became depraved maniacs, devolving into sexual deviants that sold their kids to sickos and downloaded terabytes upon terabytes of illegal porn. Big brothers began gutting cats and big sisters were found with their wrists slit in the bathtub. Parents threw children out the window on the second floor. Jobs were lost. Homes destroyed.  

And the only thing in common with each and every one was Bonnie.  

The last house probably had it the worst, the Raders. This poor couple hadn’t a damn clue what they were getting into when they adopted Bonnie, they’d already adopted three other ‘problem’ children who came from abusive pasts so they probably thought that Bonnie would be nothing new. Nothing unexpected.

Mr. Rader went into work last week and killed every one of his coworkers with a shot gun. No one was spared and it ended only when he turned the gun on himself. The only survivor had managed to hide herself in the closet and she said that he didn’t say a word until everyone else was dead. Then she heard him start to scream uncontrollably, the screaming grew louder and louder until it was cut off by the final shot.  

I can’t say the rest of the family had it easy. On the same day, Mrs. Rader drowned the youngest child in the bathtub, while the older children ran down the streets, naked and wailing. They finally managed to flag down a neighbor and told her, and I quote, ‘Mom’s gone crazy, she’s going to kill us all just because of Bonnie!’

When the police finally got home, Mrs. Rader had hung herself off the shower rod while Bonnie was busy drawing flowers in the basement. It was like she didn’t even know what was going on upstairs.  

I’ve seen a lot of children, many who might be concerned ‘problems’. But Bonnie takes the cake. This child is a jinx in human form and I have no idea why.

So this is why I’ve agreed to foster Bonnie. I cannot let this child go into another home knowing what I do now.

Bonnie is one of the most beautiful children I’ve ever seen, dark golden curls and those wide eyes are such a bright blue they make the sky seem drab. She’s quiet, always says please and thank you, and I’ve yet to see any typical trouble making behavior- stealing, hoarding, lying, destroying.

I questioned her about all her previous homes, how her entire life she’s never spent more than seven months in a house. At the time we were enjoying dinner, and Bonnie looked up from her mac n’ cheese to ask for some applesauce. When I poured her some applesauce in a bowl, she took it and then she started talking.

“I’m a very bad thing. I can’t do good things, no matter how hard I try, and everyone around me gets hurt because of it. I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better this time.”

I pity this child. I don’t know if I trust her, but I do pity her.

I only hope I can avoid the fate of Bonnie’s other families.

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