Body in Space is the story of two people: Tammy, a four-year-old child living in the precarious world of foster care, and me, a French teacher at Friends Seminary, who took her in and eventually adopted her.
When I met Tammy, she could not say her own name. She was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum. I believed then – and I persist in believing (though in a new way) – that love can heal. I pulled out all the stops to make Tammy normal. I failed. It is rare that a person who is shunted from one foster home to the next can fully recover. Five times as a tiny tot Tammy thought she was on terra firma only to find she was on a sinking raft.
The book depicts her struggles to survive a childhood and adolescence haunted by the trauma of her early years. At 20, she eloped with a homeless boy, also a foster care survivor. It fell to me to support this young couple, who soon had a child. Tammy’s husband aged out of the system, but family is different. You cannot age out of family. I took an early retirement and we all moved to Florida.
Behind the many scenes between Tammy and me there is an argument: we need to explode our foster care system, which produces the bulk of our prisoners, homeless people, and prostitutes. Perhaps the story of one child, who came to me with deep emotional scars, profound speech impairment, and odd and destructive behaviors, can shine a light on the system shrouded in darkness because its victims are children, who cannot advocate for themselves. I am in a unique position to convey how foster care impacts society. Like most readers, I lived in a world quite removed from the world of special education, foster care, and disability. Tammy propelled me into a sub-culture we all need to know about.
This book is available at Amazon.com in Kindle and Paperback editions.