“Love & Friendship”, Ch. 18-19 (PG-13): Lydia and Robert Become a Family, 1/07/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #341)
British actor Richard Armitage and American actress Diane Lane and others.]
[(1ab) Story Logo]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love & Friendship” is a romantic love story set amidst contemporary times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes or other sauciness (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap: Lydia and Robert have fun sharing their newly married status with their neighbors and friends over the New Years Eve and New Year’s Day celebrations. They are starting their lives together as a new family.
“Love & Friendship”, Ch. 18 (PG-13): Lydia and Robert Meet Someone Special while Helping Out a Pediatric AIDS Charity Event
In late January of 2011, on Saturday the 29th, Robert and Lydia happily participate in a pediatric AIDS charity event at the London’s Children’s Hospital. You see, there are still far too many children who are born with HIV–even though transmission can be prevented if HIV status is known before the birth–or who don’t have HIV but are orphaned because their parents died. Robert and Lydia learned through their research into UNICEF HIV statistics that in 2011 [(2)], that of the 34 million people around the world living with HIV, 16.7 million are women and 3.3 million are children. And, if these children’s parents die of the disease and they have no other relatives to take care of them, these children go into an already overburdened foster care system. Caring for foster kids, in general, is not an easy task. But when you compound that with a child having a health issue, that makes it even more difficult for children to find appropriate foster care—let alone a loving family willing and able to adopt them, especially for kids who are past the baby diaper stage that everyone wants.
And children’s issues are especially dear to Lydia’s heart since she has always wanted kids of her own. But with Lydia’s age and her diabetes, she knows that getting pregnant might not be the easiest—nor the safest—route to parenthood that she and Robert can take. So, Robert and Lydia also explore possibly adopting a child—with fostering being the first step in that process, along with the special classes and training that they have to take. They attended accelerated foster parent training classes twice a week all month long in January 2011, their home has been inspected and kid proofed, and they’ve been approved for emergency care foster parent status. But, they haven’t welcomed their first foster child into their home yet. So today, Robert and Lydia just want to help with some fundraising and awareness for foster kids dealing with HIV in themselves or a family member.
What Robert and Lydia don’t expect is for their foster child to find them today–as she will. Robert and Lydia turn up promptly at 9:00am to the hospital activity room to volunteer at the morning kids’ crafts and play day—and then, they’ll attend the fancy dress hospital and foster home gala this evening for the main fundraising event. Robert has long been a visible advocate of such worthy causes as this one. And, he also has a soft spot in his heart for kids.
So, Lydia and Robert are assigned to one of several card making stations—to help kids make handmade cards to give to friends and family. They have colored construction paper, markers, stickers, glitter, multi-colored foil shapes and such to be glued to the cards. Their first kid card customer is a shy little girl named Kaitlyn [(3) right] who is guided to their table by one of the foster home staffers. The foster care staffer hands Lydia Kaitlyn’s card with information on it and hovers around in the area in case there are questions.
Lydia: “Hello sweetheart, I’m Lydia and this is my husband Robert.” Lydia says smiling warmly and welcomingly at the little girl as Lydia leans over to her and shakes her little hand. “We’re doing the card craft today. Would you like to join us?”
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn looks shyly and uncertainly up at the foster care staffer who nods to her. Kaitlyn sits down at the work table between Robert and Lydia. Then she says shyly. “Hello, I’m Kaitlyn.”
Robert: “Hello.” He shakes her hand gently since she is such a tiny little girl. “I’m Robert. Now you look to be about five years old?”
Lydia: Oh, when is your birthday?” Lydia [(4) right] asks animatedly, trying to draw the child out of her shell.
Kaitlyn: “I think it’s next month. I’m not sure.” She says uncertainly and shyly.
Lydia: Lydia looks at the cheat sheet card she was given stating basic information on Kaitlyn. “Yup, it says right here that your birthday is February 14th, that’s Valentine’s Day!”
Robert: “That’s exciting! Well, you’ll have to get some chocolate to save and eat for your birthday treat.”
Kaitlyn: “They don’t let us have chocolate at the kids’ home. It’s too messy and rots our teeth.” Kaitlyn disappointedly parrots back what she has been told.
Lydia: “Ha ha ha ha ha! That sounds like something my mother said when I was a child.” Lydia laughs trying to lighten Kaitlyn’s mood.
Robert: “Now now.” Robert [(5) right] says soothingly while rubbing Kaitlyn’s back as she sits between he and Lydia. “Why don’t we make you a birthday card? Hmmm?”
Kaitlyn: “A card for me?” She looks up at him surprised. “But, I thought we had to give the card away?”
Lydia: “Well, I think we can bend the rules. Now we have lots of pretty stickers and colored paper to choose from. Do you see any of them that you like?”
Kaitlyn: “I like pink.” She says still shyly. Though little Kaitlyn likes pink, she is not dressed in any pink. The children in the foster home get their clothes mostly through donations. So, they have to take what they get. Maybe that’s why Kaitlyn likes pink, since she never gets to have it. Not even her shoulder length pigtail braided hair has a ribbon in it.
Robert: “And you know, red and pink are great colors for Valentine’s Day when your birthday is. So, let’s pick out and make a couple of cards.”
So, Robert and Lydia help Kaitlyn make some festive looking cards. Kaitlyn even seems to come out of her shell a little. Lydia and Robert also sign Kaitlyn’s cards as if they had sent them to her. Robert and Lydia smile at each other and look down at Kaitlyn and then at each other again—each thinking that Kaitlyn would be a lovely first foster child to welcome into their home.
Kaitlyn: “Thank you for helping me make my cards.” Kaitlyn says politely and a bit brightly as she fingers the lace doilies they glued on the outside and the festive stickers they positioned on the inside.
Lydia: “Kaitlyn sweetie, are you going to go to the other tables and make things there or play in the games?” Lydia asks pointing around the room to the ball toss and musical chairs games.
Kaitlyn: “I don’t know. The Foster Home says I’m not supposed to play like that with other kids—not standing up or running play.”
Robert: “Oh, now why’s that? You look like you could hold your own in a game of tag, musical chairs, or sledding down the hill.”
Kaitlyn: “I’ve never been sledding.” Kaitlyn states it plainly, with acceptance as one of the limitations upon her life. “They won’t let me, in case I get hurt and bleed. You see, I’ve got ivy.”
Lydia looks down at Kaitlyn’s card giving information about Kaitlyn and it says that Kaitlyn is HIV positive.
Lydia: Lydia knows the answer, but she haltingly asks the question anyway for Robert’s benefit. “Kaitlyn, do you mean, you have HIV?”
Robert’s face looks impassive at this news–years of theatrical training has given him that ability. But his heart still lurches for this sad news.
Kaitlyn: “Yes.” She nods a little sadly. At her tender age, Kaitlyn doesn’t really know what her having HIV means. She just knows that she doesn’t get to do much.
Lydia and Robert knew that they would be meeting kids with HIV or AIDs today, or children with parents who were sick. They just didn’t realize how much this little girl, Kaitlyn, would affect them.
Robert: “Well Kaitlyn, I’m sure they have you on some good medicines, because you look all pink and rosy and healthy.” Robert smiles while gently rubbing Kaitlyn’s cheek with the back of his finger.
Kaitlyn: “Yes, I have to take lots of pills. I don’t know why, but they tell me it will make me feel better. But sometimes, I feel worse–especially when they give me a new medicine.” She shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes. Kaitlyn has learned to bear her illness like a little trooper.
Lydia: “I know what you mean about having to take medicine, Kaitlyn. I have to take pills each day, too—for my diabetes and for my thyroid.”
Kaitlyn: “You do?” Kaitlyn says in disbelief. “I didn’t know other people had to take pills, too. I’m the only one where I live. What’s a thyroid?” She asks quizzically.
Lydia: “Well, come sit on my lap and I’ll tell you all about it.” Lydia says patting her lap.
Kaitlyn: “I’m not allowed to do that–because I might make you sick, like me.” Kaitlyn admits sadly.
Robert’s and Lydia’s hearts swell up in their throats. Not only does little Kaitlyn have HIV–and all the medical issues that go with it—but she’s not allowed any real human contact.
Lydia: “Kaitlyn sweetie, you’re not going to make me sick.” Lydia says patting her lap again.
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn looks uncertainly at Lydia and Robert, and then around the room–wondering if anyone is watching her. She doesn’t want to get into trouble. But Lydia seems so nice, that she wants to sit with her. Then Kaitlyn says in tiny voice. “Okay.”
Robert: “Here, I’ll help you Kaitlyn.” Robert stands and he lifts Kaitlyn up from her chair and he sets Kaitlyn on Lydia’s lap.
At first, Kaitlyn sits stiffly on Lydia’s lap because Kaitlyn has never had someone hold her before—or at least that she remembers.
Lydia: “There, see, that’s not so bad.” Lydia says as she puts her arms around Kaitlyn and gently pulls her back to lay against her chest.
Kaitlyn: Then Kaitlyn relaxes a bit as she lays in Lydia’s arms. And Kaitlyn says in the tiniest of voices. “Thank you.” Then the little girl starts crying because she’s been without such caring touches for so long.
Lydia: “Oh Kaitlyn, sweetheart, you’re alright.” Lydia says rocking her in her arms as she kisses Kaitlyn’s forehead and Robert rubs Kaitlyn’s back. Robert and Lydia look at each other in sincere concern for little Kaitlyn’s emotional well being.
FH Staffer: Seeing Kaitlyn crying, the foster home staffer quickly walks over to Robert and Lydia. “I’m sorry, she doesn’t normally cry. Would you like me to take her back?”
Lydia: “No!” Lydia says forcefully. “Kaitlyn is just fine where she is.” Lydia gazes pointed at Robert as she continues to rock Kaitlyn in her arms as she soothes her and kisses her forehead.
FHStaffer: “But her nose is running.” She says portentously about bodily fluids.
Robert: “Well then, bring us some tissues, will you?” Robert says a bit annoyed as he holds Kaitlyn’s hand in concern. He is also incredulous at the sparing human treatment that little Kaitlyn seems to have received up until now. The staffer brings the tissues and some hand sanitizer. Robert waves her away, indicating that they can handle it
Lydia: “Here’s some tissues Kaitlyn, blow.” And she does, while Lydia holds the tissue to her nose. “Now, let’s all clean our hands with the pump sanitizer here.” And they do.
Kaitlyn: “I’m feeling better now.” She says drying her tears. “Thank you.”
Such a polite and sweet little girl Robert and Lydia think–and they look at each other again.
Robert: “Do you want to make another pretty card?”
Kaitlyn: Not wanting to leave Lydia’s comforting embrace, Kaitlyn shyly asks Lydia. “May I stay on your lap and make the card?”
Lydia: “Of course you can.” Lydia looks over at Robert longingly—as if she could telepathically convey to him, I wish Kaitlyn could come home with us as our foster child.
But since Robert and Lydia have talked so much about fostering a child, Robert knows intuitively what is on Lydia’s mind—and in her heart, because it is also in his heart. Robert and Lydia raise their eyebrows at each other questioningly. Then, they nod their heads at each other in agreement.
Robert: Then Robert says while looking at Lydia pointedly. “Lydia, I’ll be right back after I visit the men’s room.” Lydia nods and gives Robert a knowing glance. Though they’ve only been married a little over a month, they’ve talked about and planned for fostering a child. So Robert goes to check on that while Lydia helps Kaitlyn make another pretty card.
To be continued with Chapter 19
“Love & Friendship”, Chapter 19 (PG-13): Robert talks to the Foster Home Director about He and Lydia Fostering Kaitlyn
Robert walks over to the event organizer who directs him to the Foster Home Director standing in the corner.
Robert: “Hello, I’m Robert Kensington.” Again, does he really think that people doesn’t know who he is? Especially since he and Lydia signed up to volunteer today—and he is wearing a name tag? But that is why Lydia finds Robert so endearing–at his insistence that he is simply an ordinary bloke who happens to get his picture taken for a living.
FH Dir: “Yes, thank you for volunteering today. The little ones so appreciate it. It looks like you and your wife have helped little Kaitlyn come out of her shell a bit.”
Robert: “Yes. I don’t know if you’re aware of it. But Lydia and I have attended foster parent training classes this month, our home was inspected and kid proofed, and we’re now certified to be foster care parents.”
FH Dir: “Oh? Well, good for you!” He says not really thinking that a big star like Robert Kensington would go to all that trouble. “You know, we have trouble finding foster parents. That’s why so many of our children live in a group home.”
Robert: “Yes, about that. Lydia and I feel that we’re making a real connection with little Kaitlyn. And we were wondering if we might look into fostering her?”
FH Dir: “Really? Well, I’m sure that we can look into it. Call me Monday and we’ll discuss it.” He take out his card and gives to Robert.
Robert: Robert looks at the card and then bends it back and forth against his fingers. No, you misunderstand. My wife and I would like to take Kaitlyn out to lunch and then possibly take her home with us this afternoon. We’ll, of course, then bring her to the benefit for the kid’s choir concert this evening at the fundraising gala.”
FH Dir: “That’s a little fast to get the paperwork done.” He says uncertainly.
Robert: “If it helps, Lydia and I are certified for emergency foster care. Here’s a copy of our credentials.” Robert shows the FH Director the Foster parent id card that he and Lydia received that he has in his wallet. “Marla Washington is our foster parent Case Worker. She said that she would be happy to facilitate our first placement. I can get her on the phone for you.” He says whipping out his cell phone.
FH Dir: “You’re serious?” He asks incredulously.
Robert: “Yes, Kaitlyn seems to respond to us and I think that we will be good for her. Of course, we’ll want to ask Kaitlyn if she would like to come home with us for a visit.
FH Dir: “You know that she has HIV and has a regimen of medications that she needs to take?” He wants to make sure that Robert and Lydia know what they’re getting into.
Robert: “Yes, and we had a foster parent training unit on kids with special health concerns. We can pick up Kaitlyn’s medications from the foster home this afternoon before we take her back to our place.” Robert stares him down–he is determined to bring Kaitlyn home with them today. Nothing has ever felt more right to him in his life–except for marrying his wife Lydia.
FH Dir: “You know we always hope that kids will find a home when we have these events. But this is the first time that a child actually might do that. We’ll need to verify your credentials officially first, of course.”
Robert: “Of course. We would expect nothing less than following appropriate protocols. I’ll call Marla while you’re talking with your staff. Then, if Kaitlyn can be approved to come to our home for at least a weeklong visit–starting this afternoon if that’s possible–that would be great. Then we’ll ask Kaitlyn if that is what she wants to do.”
So both Robert and the FH Director make some calls. And once everyone is satisfied that the foster care rules are being followed, Robert and Lydia are given the go ahead to invite Kaitlyn to their home. In the meantime, Marla Washington–their Foster Parent Case Worker–is heading toward them even as they speak.
Robert returns to Lydia and Kaitlyn—giving Lydia a smile as he nods at her encouragingly. And Lydia responds with a knowing smile for Robert. Then the three of them—Robert and Lydia and Kaitlyn–make more cards. Since this kids’ event involves lunch and then more play and crafts, Robert and Lydia decide to stay here to join Kaitlyn for lunch and then see if she wants to go home with them. As they’re sitting down finishing eating their hot dogs at their card making table, their smiling Case Worker Marla Washington [(6) right] walks up to them. She has 15 years experience as a Foster Care Case worker and foster parent herself. She has her beautiful Afro curls framed with a head band that matches the color of her blouse.
Robert: Robert stands courteously to greet Marla as he shakes her hand and he wipes his mouth with a napkin in the other hand. “Marla! Good to see you. Thanks for coming on such short notice.”
MarlaW: “My pleasure. It’s good to see you, Lydia and Robert.”
Lydia: “Hi Marla.” Lydia stands also and shakes Marla’s hand. “Kaitlyn, this is our friend Marla Washington.”
Kaitlyn: “Hello. Nice to meet you.” She says quietly, but with a small smile.
MarlaW: “Hello Kaitlyn. It looks like you’re having fun today.” Marla looks around at the four or five cards that Robert and Lydia have made with Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn: “Yes, I am.” She says meekly. Because she doesn’t get to have much fun at the Foster home. Kaitlyn is also at that age when the boys and their teasing can be so annoying.
Lydia: “Yes, the three of us were making oodles of birthday cards for Kaitlyn’s birthday on Valentine’s Day.”
MarlaW: “That sounds nice.” She smiles brightly at Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn nods shyly.
Then the Foster Home Director walks over.
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn looks around at all of the adults staring down at her and she asks worriedly. “Is something wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
Lydia: “Oh no, Kaitlyn sweetie.” Lydia says hugging Kaitlyn as she sits back down and kisses Kaitlyn’s forehead. Robert also sits down. “We can’t imagine that you would ever do anything wrong. Sit down, you two. You’re giving me a crick in my neck.” She motions to Marla and the FH Director. “Actually Kaitlyn, Robert and I have something to ask you.”
Robert: “Yes, and it’s entirely up to you. You don’t have to say yes right away. You can think about it.” He smiles warmly. Robert and Lydia both realize that this needs to be Kaitlyn’s decision–and they don’t want her to feel pressured.
Kaitlyn: “What is it?” She asks. Kaitlyn doesn’t have a clue as to what their question is because she has never been invited to visit a foster family that she can remember as she has gotten older. Though Kaitlyn has seen other kids become fostered or even adopted, it has never happened for her. So, Kaitlyn has stopped thinking about it or wishing for it, because she’s too sad when it doesn’t happen.
Lydia: “Well,” She says hesitantly, but with hope in her heart and in her voice. “Robert and I have become certified foster parents recently. Marla is our foster parent case worker.” Marla nods.
Robert: “Yes, and we’ve been hoping to find a child to welcome into our home for a visit.”
Lydia: “We were hoping, Kaitlyn Sweetie, that you might think about visiting our home for a week and see how you like us.”
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn looks at Lydia and Robert in utter disbelief and astonishment. “Really? You want me?”
Lydia and Robert: “Yes we do Kaitlyn, very much.” They smile at Kaitlyn warmly and caringly.
Lydia: “What would you like to do, Kaitlyn?”
Robert: “Would you like to visit us for a week?”
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn worriedly looks over at the FH Director. Then Kaitlyn bursts into tears. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.” Kaitlyn is worried that the Foster Home people will be mad at her for wanting to leave.
Lydia: Pulling Kaitlyn onto her lap again and cradling her in her arms Lydia says as she rubs Kaitlyn’s back soothingly. “Kaitlyn sweetie, it’s alright. If you want to get to know us more before you decide, that’s fine. We can schedule some play dates this week.”
FH Dir: Sensing why Kaitlyn is upset, he says comfortingly. “Kaitlyn Dear, other kids have had the chance to visit people’s homes, but you haven’t. So, it’s your turn if you want to go. We’ll miss you, but we want you to have fun.” He smiles in a warm and fatherly way.
MarlaW: “Yes, Kaitlyn. And, you can take your medications with you and we’ll explain to Lydia and Robert when you need to take them. So, you’ll still have everything you need with you.”
Robert: “People, let’s just give Kaitlyn a moment to think about it.” Marla and the FH Director step back a few feet. Then Robert takes Kaitlyn’s small hand in his large hand. “Kaitlyn, though we would like to take you home with us today for a weeklong visit, we are happy to do whatever you want–if you would rather wait and get to know us better first before you visit.”
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn sits bolt upright in Lydia’s lap and asks in complete surprise. “You want to take me home today? I will have a home today?”
Lydia: “Yes, Kaitlyn Sweetheart. If that is what you would like to do.” She says smiling tenderly at the little girl as she brushes a stray hair out of Kaitlyn’s eyes and caresses her small face.
Kaitlyn: Kaitlyn looks hopefully back and forth at Robert and Lydia. Then she nestles into Lydia’s chest again, saying one word. “Yes.” Then, of course, Kaitlyn’s tears start to fall again—this time from happiness.
But then, Lydia’s and Robert’s eyes are tearing up as well. Lydia gives Kaitlyn a big hug and kiss and then Robert hugs both of them—creating a little family tableaux. Of course, though they are sitting off to one side of the room, some of the other kids and volunteers can’t help but notice that something is going on with Kaitlyn—that she’s finally getting a family. And they are happy for her.
To be continued with Chapter 20
1) The Love & Friendship” story logo is a composite of two images:
a) British Actor Richard Armitage in a December 2010 Promo portrait found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2010Promo/album/20Dec2010-Perou-03.jpg; and
b) American Actress Diane Lane at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011 found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diane_Lane_%28Berlin_Film_Festival_2011%29_2.jpg
3) Image of Kaitlyn is that of 1940’s child actress Margaret O’Brien (dress recolored brown) and was found at http://www.classicmoviekids.com/images/o/obrien/margaret609.jpg
4) Image of Lydia is that of Diane Lane found at http://www.filmofilia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Diane-Lane.jpg
5) Robert image is that of British actor Richard Armitage portraying Lucas North in Spooks 7 episode2, pix 87 and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/album/ep2/slides/cap087.jpg
6) Marla image is that of actress Alfre Woodard and was found at http://www.vissastudios.com/wp-content/gallery/alfre-woodard-hairstyles/alfre-woodard-updo.jpg
Nota Bene: A disclaimer. For dramatic purposes in this story, I have created a scenario in which the little girl Kaitlyn has emotional needs that are not being met in her current living situation. In no way am I implying that all foster care situations are negative for the children in their care, nor am I implying that foster care workers are lacking in their attention to children in their care–let alone their care of children with special needs, far from it. Having served as an Educational Surrogate Parent and objective observer for a year myself–attending monthly in school observations and quarterly meetings between teachers, social workers, school district representatives, etc., I have the utmost respect for the transformative assistance that children receive in the social services system. In fact, my mother was a social worker before she married.
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