The very first person that Lauren became friends with in our new neighborhood was a sweet young girl named Morgan. I was happy to realize that Morgan lived across the street from us, and was excited to meet her parents. I knew that her father was a professional hockey player who had recently retired, and that Morgan had 3 older triplet brothers who were Sam’s age( I googled their family). When I finally met Morgan’s parents, I was a little sad. Not that they weren’t nice, but that they were very very, tall. Both of them.
Morgan’s dad Keith Carney is the size of well, a hockey player, and her mom, Amy, is a very tall, very beautiful, professional model. Oh, well, I thought, they would have been perfect friends for us. But Craig and I are just too short to be their friends.
Well, I am happy to report that 3 years later, the Carneys are some of our closest friends. Turns out, I can be friends with very tall non-Jewish models. Even when Amy and I tool around in her Fiat with the roof open, and her hair blows beautifully in the wind, while my hair just ends up getting stuck to my face, I am still glad to be her friend. And it’s not just because I feel really cool standing near both of them. It’s because of who they are inside.
When I met them, I saw what people would see on the outside. A beautiful home & family, and a dad who is lucky enough to retire at 40 (although he recently went back to work as a coach and scout for the Chicago Blackhawks.) But it’s what’s on the inside that is what’s truly amazing. Amy and Keith decided that because they do have so much, what they wanted to do is give back. They are involved in many charitable foundations and donate their time to many causes. Las year, they became foster parents. In the fall of 2012, they opened their home to two brothers whose parents were unable to care for them. They had been in and out of group homes and had become lost in the AZ system. The Carneys took them in, and enrolled them in our school, Cherokee Elementary.
These boys had never been to a museum, or to a movie or to a mall. They had never been to Chuck E Cheese. They spent hours in the pool, afraid it would all end. The younger brother had serious emotional issues, and often ran away. The foster system would not return Amy’s desperate calls when she asked for help. It was during this time that Amy discovered she had ovarian cancer, and needed to have surgery. She tried desperately to help, and ultimately she had to take the younger boy back. She would have kept the older brother, but the foster system decided she had to return them both. Our Arizona foster system is unfortunately very understaffed, and the need for foster parents far outweighs the amount of children who need foster homes.
One would think that she would lose faith in the system, but she again decided she could make a difference. They currently have a wonderful 10 year old girl living in their home, whose violent situation at her home was too dangerous for her. She is sweet and loving and had never been to a beach or on a plane or anywhere before coming to the Carneys. She came out with us last night to celebrate Lauren’s birthday. I felt embarrassed and ashamed watching my kids eat at a restaurant like it was nothing new, while this girl was amazed. I was angry at myself as I let my kids scoop out candy from the candy store with no limits, while she was happy with one large gummy worm.
My former co-worker and friend Marci adopted two children from an orphanage in Kazakhstan when she discovered she couldn’t have children of her own. One of the girls had a severe cleft palate and Marci took her to doctors here in AZ and got her facial surgery she would have never gotten otherwise. She was born on the exact same day as Lauren, and turned 10 yesterday as well. Two little girls born on the same exact day into two very different worlds . She is a normal, healthy girl and she and her sister have a great life here in AZ.
There are so many kids in need of homes all over the country and I continue to be amazed at people who open their hearts and homes to children that were not born to them. My children need to be reminded every single day that they are truly lucky, as I know that there are many Sams out there whose parents could never afford the type of experience that being part of the Addams Family has provided him.
Tonight I’m going to see a show at Valley Youth Theatre, where Sam was lucky enough to have started out at, as did Emma Stone, Jordin Sparks and Chelsea Staub, to name a few. The show is a musical called “They Chose Me” and it’s a tribute to families that were created through adoption or foster care. It is special to director Bobb Cooper as well, who was in the foster system himself as a child growing up in Detroit. I am excited to go back and see my theatre friends and remind myself of where it all began for Sam, and where I hope he’ll come back and perform soon.
I am very aware of how lucky I am that I was able to have 3 biological children. All Craig had to do was look at me and I would get pregnant (yes, kids, that’s how it works. Don’t ask any more questions). I have seen many people who cannot get pregnant who try fertility treatments to no avail. My sister’s twins are here today because of the magic of fertility medicine. I am so glad there are so many options out there to bring a child into a good, loving home.
Call it fate or whatever you want, Sam is lucky that he was chosen to be part of the theatre world. I am lucky that Lauren chose Morgan for her best friend. I am grateful that the Carneys and all of the amazing generous people I know out there have picked me to be their friends. I hope that I will continue to be amazed by the generosity of people every day and I hope that my kids and I can be more like them.