By this time our birth mother’s final two years were up and we were permanently in care. She’d had the ultimatum of two last years to clean up her life enough to satisfy the Ministry and hadnt managed to do it. After four years of intervention. Papers were signed and adoption attempts started.
Our first failed adoption was to an extremely religious family. I dont know why it failed. I remember eating a lot of grapefruit and playing with little paper dolls. I still love grapefruit. They are barely a footnote in the file, vaguely mentioned once. I remember bringing them up once to a worker at some point and the worker denying their existence so it was almost a relief to see confirmation that it had actually happened, there in black and white in the enormous mountain of paper that is my foster care file.
After that brief two month attempt at forming a family we were returned to the Morgensterns.
Adoption number two was considerably more successful. In a manner of speaking anyway. I had just turned eight, my brother was six. Bright blue eyes and blonde hair, eager to do whatever needed to be done to make sure we were good enough. The Raines family was a married couple, foster parents themselves, with one son already. The perfect family. Like new puppies my brother and I were both renamed at the start of our new family life. I went from Shannon Jean-Lee Snodgrass to Melodie Shannon Raines, named after my social worker. I had years of a weird sort of a limbo as I was still called Shannon at home but registered as Melodie in school. It took a long time to realize that Melodie was me. I still bear that surname, having never managed to marry out of it, and I still loathe it and all it stands for. Turns out the spare children were only there for a purpose. Mr Raines had a predilection, one that included young girls. I was perfect and ripe for the taking. I dont remember exactly when the abuse started. It seemed like nightly visits although it may not have been every night. On his way to his overnight hauling job he would visit my room for a “tickle”. I remember him calling me into his room on the afternoons Mrs Raines was at work. They had a walk in closet and an ensuite in the master bedroom. I hid everywhere you could hide in that room while he changed into his robe. He never got naked in front of me. I find that weird now. He always changed into his robe somewhere and then came for me. Demanding I come out if he couldnt find me. I always came when he called. Does that count as complicite? That haunts me now. Did I secretly want it? Contribute to it somehow? I remember the first time he demanded a blow job and the way my gut turned. How I cried and tried to convince him not to make me do it. The feeling of his penis sliding along my tightly clamped teeth trying to find a way in. The agony of his thumb under my collarbone when I refused to open my mouth. That was his move when I didnt cooperate: he’d hold his penis in his right hand, his left hand over my shoulder just so his thumb slid into the hollow of my collarbone. I had no way out. That sight still haunts me twenty some-odd years later. Id be willing to bet that’s why my collarbone on my right side is slightly deformed although that has never been medically confirmed. I remember the pain of the first time his finger penetrated. Clamping my legs shut and trying to pretend I was asleep through the agony my little body was experiencing. Hoping he would just go away but he never did. I ran away once, taking my brother and bolting. I cant remember for the life of me how we were found but I remember the ass paddling I got when we got home. It progressed, as all abuse does but Im not prepared to reveal the nitty gritty here just yet.
Having gone through my file now Im horrified at the stuff contained in there with reference to the Raines home. They did their own Home-study since they were previous foster parents. What the hell? There was no outside vetting whatsoever. Especially heartbreaking are the notes from Caroline before it all went to hell. An attitude in stark contrast to the one she presented years later.
Her early descriptions of us are favourable. We’re bright and well adjusted with an overwhelming need to cuddle and feel secure. There are no issues at the start. We fit in well and excelled in school. At our surrender, Carolines attitude had changed completely. I behaved inappropriately around men, had too much sexual knowledge. I was defiant and she had never truly bonded with me. I didnt fit her ideal as a daughter and the stress of her current situation had brought all of that to the forefront. My poor brother, caught in the crossfire, was simply along for the ride his older sister had created. Years later Caroline would perform another about-face stating that she had never wished to give us up but had been pressured by the Ministry. The file, by her own hand, says differently. To this day I loathe all she stands for as a parent. As clear as a sunny summer day she blamed me. Going so far as to return to her beloved husband later in life and defending him at an unrelated sexual abuse trial when one of their former foster children came forward with the same accusations I had brought up.
They set the bar for what I could hope for in parents and it was a limbo bar at best.