Chapt 6 1968-1971 At Home in Devonshire Subdivision, Columbus, Ohio
In 1967 Keith and I, now in our thirties, were so happy! We had a beautiful house in Columbus, Ohio with three children and our first foster daughter too. Keith’s job at OSU was exactly what he had hoped for. My piano studio was growing and I loved the interaction and creativity of the programs which had become an integral part of my teaching by then. We had joined the McKendree United Methodist Church and Pastor Rodeheffer was a fantastic mentor to his congregation. In my undergraduate days at Kansas Wesleyan University, I had decided to become a music missionary and I had added a minor in Christian Education to my studies there. Although, I had postponed that missionary ‘calling’, we still were very active with church ministries in Columbus. Then, I met Polly Latimer who was to add an entirely new dimension to my ideas of Christian Education! A new curriculum series had just been published which encouraged Sunday School teachers to help children 'think through and develop their faith' rather than just ‘telling them what to believe’ which sometimes had happened with the older curriculum series. I was so excited that I attended a conference-level lab school to become a Christian Education Laboratory Leader through the Board of Global Ministries -- and I became certified in the Ohio West Conference of the United Methodist Church to train Sunday School teachers to use the new curriculum. It was not long after that that we discovered a new baby was on the way! We were so thrilled! We had always wanted to have 4 children of our own….and it was really going to happen! And, in January, 1968, Kelly Ann Michal was born! All four children were miracles….no doubt about it! The doctors had said that we would never have children at all!! Well, they were wrong! Not only did we have Scott, Terry, Todd and Kelly….but we were authorized to provide a temporary home for up to two more foster children at a time as well! Wow!
The next three years were busy with OSU responsibilities for Keith, a thriving year-round Piano Studio and Ohio Music Teacher Association/Music Education National Conference activities for Elva with Lab Leader Christian Education Workshops to teach as well. Our kids were involved in school activities in music, sports, Boy Scouts and school work. And, Elva was actively involved in the local PTA and had also become part of the Statewide PTA Council as well. Part of her job in this capacity was to promote and sell subscriptions to a PTA publication to help parents learn more about providing better educational experiences in the public schools by working with their local Parent Teacher Associations. I found the PTA Magazine to be a great publication which would help both parents and their school age children. Then one day, I learned that I had placed second in the State for magazine sales and that Keith and I were invited to attend the National PTA Conference in New Orleans, La.— all expenses paid! So, we hired a housekeeper/child care worker and flew to New Orleans for our first 'real' vacation together since our wedding in 1958! Dixieland concerts, wonderful food all within a historical setting was really special. (The kids were not so happy……they did not like the housekeeper and pleaded that we never ‘go away on a vacation without them again’.
By 1971, Jenny our foster daughter) had started to attend school and Kelly was 3 years old when our Foster Care Caseworker told us that a family had applied to begin adoption proceeding to adopt Jenny. We had always known that day would come….and although we dreaded it, we were happy for Jenny because every child needs a permanent family to love and care for them forever and ever. But, oh my! How hard that was going to be! But, we proceeded to meet the parents, arranged for visits for them with Jenny and tried to prepare our own children for her departure. Still, how could you really explain to a 3-year old that her sister was leaving to live with another family? That morning, we went through the normal morning routine; Jenny was excited but nervous and we all were trying our best to be happy for her when Kelly said something like: “ Jenny is going away today isn’t she Mommy?” I answered, “Yes, today is the day she will go to live with her real family.” Then Kelly asked: “But, Mommy, who will take care of her?” “Don't worry. Her new Mommy and Daddy will take care of her, Kelly.” Then Kelly’s response provided me with the knowledge that she would be ok -- when she said, “And you and Daddy will take care of me, won’t you!” People often questioned how we could possibly ‘give up’ a foster child whom we had grown to love over the period of over 5 years of living as part of our family. It was very hard; but, our purpose was not to keep her but to provide a loving family for her until her permanent family could be found. We will never forget any of the 12 foster children who lived with us and became part of us. But, we feel a sense of joy that each one eventually found the home where they could grow up and thrive as a permanent part of a family. That was the thing that made it possible.
Just a few weeks later, the Caseworker called us again to tell us that they had a little boy named Delbert who they would like for us to meet and to consider as our next child! That story will be told in Chapter 7.