Anne: Our author interview today is with Sue Badeau, a well-known speaker, nonfiction ( Are We There Yet? Adopting and Raising 22 Kids), and fiction author (the third story in the Summer in Sweetland series, called Never Too Old).
Yes, you heard right. Twenty-two kids. I can't even imagine having so enough patience! To read the review I did of Never Too Old, click HERE.
Actually--I lied. This interview is with one of the fictional characters in Sue's story, Jackie. As I remember, she's the oldest of the six adopted kids in the Evers family. Jackie, I understand you were adopted while in your teens. So--did you choose them or did they choose you?
Jackie: Well, you know, that's a funny question. I say I chose them, but they say they chose me! I thought I was really too old to be adopted, you know? I didn’t think there would be any families for me so when they came to meet me, I was like, “what’s their deal?” I didn’t trust them. But after we visited a few times and I met the other kids in the family, I was all kind of getting my hopes up, and I was scared that they would back out. So I guess I started acting like a real jerk for a while. But they didn’t give up, they kept coming back for the visits, so I figured they were the real deal, you know? That's when I chose them.
Anne: How did you meet the Evers?
Jackie: Well, Mom, you know, she is a social worker, and sometimes she is involved in these different events for kids in foster care. She had seen me at some of these events, but I wasn’t one of her cases or anything. But one time the agency, they had this event at the county fair, and I was helping the little kids with the relay races. I run track—did you know that? Anyway, mom came as one of the caseworkers, but she brought her family too, and that's when I met CJ. He’s nine now, so he was about 7 at the time and he was so cute with a smart mouth. So I was kind of helping him with the races and that's when I met Dad. And we kind of hit it off a little, and a week later my caseworker told me they wanted to come visit me at my foster home.
Anne: How long does the adoption process take?
Jackie: Hmmmm, that's a good question. I once had a girlfriend in the same foster home as me and she got adopted and it seemed to go real fast. But for me it took longer. I guess it is a little different for each case, there are court hearings and the parents have to do these home study things and stuff. But after I met the Evers family, we visited for about I guess two or three months. And then I got to move in with them. And then my case worker had to keep coming to check on me for like about six or seven more months, and then we got to go to court to make the adoption official. So I guess altogether it was about nine months. Hahahaha – that makes me laugh. I just figured it out—it took my family the same amount of time to adopt me as it takes when someone is pregnant to have a baby. Hahahah – I guess adoption is sort of like a different kind of pregnancy! That's pretty coo;; I never thought of it like that before.
Anne: Do you know much about your "natural" parents?
Jackie: Oh sure, I know all about them cuz, you know, I lived with them until I was four years old. And then after I started in foster care, I went back and forth with them for a while until I was about six. I haven’t really seen them much since that time. My birth mom, she was real messed up with drugs when I was little. I think she is doing a lot better now. Mom and Dad say they will help me find her again a couple of years after I finish high school. I do have her picture on my dresser—she’s real pretty. My birth dad, he’s been gone a long time. I don’t know much about him, but hopefully someday I will. I do know he ran track too, so maybe that’s where I got it from.
Anne: Which one of your adoptive siblings do you relate to the closest? Why?
Jackie: I think in some ways I am closest to CJ because I met him first and also he wants to be a runner, and so I think he kind of looks up to me and that's kind of cool—you know? Dev and Billy, they are the closest to me in age and they’re all right, for brothers. Billy always looked out for me at school. I miss him. I can’t wait till he gets out of Juvie. People think kids that get sent to Juvie are bad, but they aren’t. Billy is the best brother, and he’s real sensitive. People don’t see that side of him, but I do.
Anne: Did you have any arguments with Sue Badeau on how your story should go?
Jackie: Hahaha, that is a funny question. When she started writing about the girls in the group home, I think she was only going to tell Wendy’s story, but I was like, come on, we need to hear about more of them. I mean, people need to see the real stories about kids like me that are in foster care. So I was pretty happy that she added Veronica and Misty’s stories. I think that made it better—don’t you agree?
Anne: I do totally agree. So—will you be coming back to another story soon?
Jackie: Yes, I think so. My mom just told me that Sue Badeau is going to write about how our family celebrates Christmas and how we include other celebrations like Kwanzaa in our family traditions. And wait until you hear what happens when the tree falls over . . . but really I shouldn’t say any more, I wouldn’t want to spoil it, but I hope everyone will read about Christmas in Sweetland.
Anne: Thanks for being here Jackie. I know you're in a hurry to get back to your graduation practice, so I won't keep you any longer. By the way--I love that you'll be back. You are a diamond in a beautiful crown. God bless you and your writer, Sue Badeau.