First Foster Home

by Lolo Anderson


Watching the TV series “The Chosen” reminded me of how wonderful my mother told Bible stories to me.

My First Foster Home

By: Lolo Anderson

It is not what you may think. My real parents took in so many hurting children, they had to get their home licensed to be a temporary foster home. So yes. I was raised in a foster home from early adolescents to the day I got married at 17.

I get to call it my first foster home because years later I was the father in my second foster home. A troubled teenage orphaned girl named Pam. My Christian wife and I had loved her since she was a child. My third foster home again I was the father. My dear fourth wife and I were waiting the years while we adopted my 3 grandchildren from Tennessee. Foster home for Napa County to receive adoption from the State of Tennessee.

Most of my stories there has always been a girl in the center. This story has 3 girls in the center of my story about my first foster home. My precious mother and my two foster sisters in my first foster home.

My parents bought a big house in town and we had to move away from the ranch. The ranch was a small cluster of just my relatives with a dozen cousins and aunts, uncles and grandparents out in the pigmy forest. One giant family with aunts and uncles that were more like second mommy and daddy to me. The worlds greatest grandmother and drunk grandfather all within a stone’s through of each other.

My new big house on West Street in town. The only thing bigger than the 3-story house was my parent’s hearts.

It was a large 3 story old Victorian style house. It was built with old growth redwood back in the 1920s. It had been a souvenir gift shop at the North end of Main Street with owner’s residence above. They picked it up on jacks and moved it a block away to West Street. My father bought it for $5,000 cheep, because it was haunted. There were stories about some strange events up in the top 3rd floor bedroom.

A person would have to read about my life back at the family ranch to understand. What a shock to move to town into a haunted big old creepy looking house. It was tall with large bay windows hanging out of the upstairs bedrooms. The old souvenir gift shop was now our front room with a big alcove of windows.

A wide fancy old redwood staircase to more bedrooms upstairs. A second set of narrow steep twisting stairs up to the 3rd story bedroom. The top bedroom was my room. Short walls then steep roof line ceiling pointing up the entire length of the house. Smaller bay windows that over-looked the trucking company across the street. Behind that was the Mill’s north air-drying lumber storage yard. I could watch the sunset over the ocean just beyond those stacks of lumber each night. There was also a bay window looking south right down the middle of West Street.

The lot next door was the old Catholic church they had moved clear across town to be the new Portuguese Hall. During my last 2 years of high school, I built a black and white darkroom at the east end of that room. There was room for a single bunk bed for extra foster kids to spend a night or two. Pretty large pinned off area for toddles to play with a bunch of old hand-me-down toys. Older kids stayed far away from the haunted 3rd floor bedroom. It was a 20-minute walk to school both for junior and senior high school.

They only brought us the most troubled kind of foster kids. Ours was a temporary place to drop off kids by the children protection folks or the police. Often when mothers were going to jail and their children needed a safe place to stay until they could work out something more permanent or contact a relative. Some days there were no extra kids at the breakfast table. Other days had 2 or three new kids that needed help washing their hands.

My mother would teach flannel-graph lessons to the neighborhood children. She covered a large board with cotton flannel cloth and cut out paper action figures. Gluing flannel on the back of paper figures of bible characters and colored buildings and trees to make them stick to the board. Any temporary foster child that may be staying over and several other kids from the neighborhood attended her lessons. They would sit around her in our front room as she told them bible stories about the life of the apostle Paul. Often there would be 15 or 20 children listing to every word.

My mother was not your standard Sunday school teacher. Yes, she read scriptures and prayed just like at Sunday school. It was the way she brought the life of Paul alive to us kids. She was always funny and making the children laugh. She would adlib so much into her stories each week. She could take the gospels of Paul and turn them into nursery stories made just for children. Moving the action figures over the board to keep a visual alive for all her stories.

Recently watching the TV series, “The Chosen”. Tears roll down at every story my mother told me on her flannel-graph. It has been my inspiration to write about my loving Christian mother. The episode where a teenage girl was talking about giving birth. She had no choice; the baby was un-wanted to begin with. My mother never learned how to drive a car but she knew how to tell children stories.

Her love for the broken and hurting children they kept bring into her home was amazing. To be so full of God’s love for them at a time of crises in so many of their little lives. Holding their hands from the police car right up to her own bedroom. Often, she would be alone with them for a long-time bathing and holding them in her big loving arms to pray and give thanks for giving them to her. My older sister and I never felt ignored either. She always had time for her own two children.

She was not alone. My father became a Christian and turned from his old ways to support my mother in every way. He also love all of his foster children with all his big heart. He could never speak or teach them lessons but he was always there for my mother. When he started to speak from his heart, his voice would crack and he would get emotional. Everyone knew there was so much love in his heart that he could not contain it.

The only source of heat in this big house was the wood burning stove in the front room. It was my father’s job to cut the wood with the big saw attached to his tractor. Keeping that fire going with a pan of water on top to keep the humidity in the air for all the children.

One day they brought a family of 6 Indians kids from the reservation. The first night, Luella’s 5 older siblings destroyed my sister’s room. Then ran away back to the reservation in Covelo on foot. She was the youngest and her brothers and sisters had to leave her behind because it was about a 50 mile walk back to reservation. Luella was the only foster child that lived with us longer than a few days. It took several days before the sheriff found the 5 other children walking in the woods. Such a sweet innocent little 3-year-old girl. My parents loved her like she was their very own until I was old enough to drive.

She was my baby sister that I loved with all my heart. My mother set up a permanent little bed for her in my sister’s room. She was sitting on my lap as we watched Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show on our black and white TV. She was not afraid to come up to her big brother’s haunted bedroom and play in the little nursery I set up for her.

She was the last of my parent’s foster children.

My memory may be fading but I can still see my mother weeping as she had to return Luella to her real mother after getting out of jail. The long drive to Ukiah with her cuddled on my mother’s arms, crying all the way. The tears in both of their eyes as Luella was begging my mother not to leave her. My sweet father had to pry her out of my mother’s trembling arms and carry her into the county building. I thought I could never survive another look like she was giving my mother as she was being taken away. No wonder it opened up so many heartbreaks when years later they took my foster daughter away from me.

I learned at a young age how love can really break a heart.

My mother’s closest friend through many of those years was Betty.

Betty was the wife of our pastor Stan with a boy about my age and a redheaded girl couple years younger than me. John and Nancy were far closer than either of my real sister and two brothers ever were. Between Betty and her husband Stan, just about every visiting church goer ate at my mother’s giant dining room table. John and Nancy fell right into the crazy bunch of foster kids jumping all over them. I could easily get side-tracked here writing about my Christian sister Nancy. Perhaps another story.

Never knew what new little brother my mommy tucked into my bed at night. Most kids slept on the second-floor bedroom. Every once in awhile someone did not want to sleep alone and my mother knew they would be loved cuddled up next to big brother up in his room. Lucky me. My sister got most of the one- or two-night little girls to hug to sleep.

I remember one Easter Sunday waking up in bed with a little 3-year-old boy next to me. That Easter morning service in our new church was as close to His Holy Spirit as I have ever felt in a church building. After a full year of working 3 or 4 nights a week building at new church for Stan to preach in. It had been a desperate past few weeks trying to have it ready for Easter Sunday in our new church. I thank God for every minute He blessed me working on that church. To witness our pastor’s leadership and his crew of church volunteers build that church at such a young age. My father was one of his lead carpenters the whole time. Stan sang, “How Great Thou Art” from his custom pulpit and Betty lead the church kids sing and my spirit has remembered that feeling on that first Easter Sunday at the new church.

The other girl in this story is Lolly. She was a very troubled beautiful and sexy red headed teenager. Lolly was brought to us in a police car. She had a bad reputation at school and with some older guys from the mill. The police brought to our house after a horrible sexual assault by a bad man being put in jail.

I was not surprised both my parents opened their hearts and home to this broken teenager. They shared God’s love at the drop of a hat to anyone. Especially to those that no one else would ever let in their home.

I was about 13 and she was about 17. We hardly spoke to each other. I do remember her crying when she told me how much she loved my father. She said no man had ever held her like that without trying to have sex with her. She was only in our home for a little while but what an impact she had on my life. I know she felt God’s love and compassion from my loving parents. She had felt safe and part of a real family for the first time in her life.

I was in junior high and she was a senior in high school. To tell the full story about Lolly and how she impacted my life I need to explain how I reacted to her. I ignored her and kept my distance away from her at home and at school. Ours is a small town and many kids at school knew she was living in my house.

Her bad reputation was well known as the easiest girl in all of high school. I was ashamed of her and many boys were making jokes about me and her. I gave into their rude and hurtful lies about us and started to treat her like trash. My sin was not having the courage to stand up for my bleeding foster sister. I would have gladly given my life for my other little foster sister, why not her.

I don’t remember what I said to her but I know I was not very nice to her. More than that I knew she was hurting and really needed her brother’s love. This broke my mother’s heart because I had always loved all the other foster kids, why not her?

Looking back, I still feel so guilty and ashamed of how I treated her. I was a teenage boy at the birth of my sexuality. She was so beautiful and sexy with such a bad reputation. She was so exciting to watching her walk around the house in her night clothes. When I think of her, I can still see her walking home from school. She has on a long-pleaded skirt with bobby socks and white shoes. She had short red hair with big green eyes. She also had a mouth and lips like Julia Roberts. She was filling out her loose fitting green blouse to make a young boy cry.

I was terrified around her and was so happy when they took her away from our home. Years later after I grew up, I came to realize how lonely she must have been and how I missed the chance to be her friend. My father and mother were treating her like their very own little girl. I treated her like she had the plague.

As a young boy, I was fighting the battle between good and evil within me. Good can not make friends with evil, so I rejected evil and I rejected the hurting little girl inside my foster sister. I seen the pain in her green eyes and still I turned my back one her. I allowed un-holy thoughts to block the spirit I knew God wanted to share with Lolly.

Years later I never did stop regretting how I treated Lolly. I vowed to God I would never allow un-holy thoughts to prevent God from using me to reflect His love to someone in such need of a good friend.

I did not know how good my childhood was until so many teenagers in the wealthy Napa County described theirs to me from Young Life. My life long burden and passion to minister to girls, like Lolly was because of Lolly. Even here at the end of my days I write stories hoping girls like Lolly will read them to know that God loves them. Just maybe the Holy Spirit will lead one of my stories to the real Lolly and I will beg her spirit to forgive me.

If anyone questions if there is a God. Just let them fall in love with a child that has no one else and everybody else hates. I learned a hard lesion with Lolly. Never squelch the Holy Spirit with evil thoughts or intentions.

Truly my parents reward will be great in heaven. I can’t imagine any greater reward than I have already received here on earth. I found out that if you let the Holy Spirit move through you, you can overcome all evil.

Walking so close to Him in my childhood home with my Godly parents was such a blessing. Later I wandered far away from God and suffered great losses. His love for me brought me back only to use all my evil experiences to His glory reflecting His love and forgiveness to so many.

I come by my passion for the Victims of satin’s work from my parents. Growing up in such a Christian foster home was wonderful. So wonderful in-fact I don’t know of anyone that would ask God to repeat their childhood home exactly, like I would.

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