Thank You for Lost and Found Families

When I was 13 years old,  I entered the foster care system due to my mother’s mental incapacity to care for her four children.

After a couple local placement attempts, I was separated from my three younger brothers and placed in a home many miles from them, with a very large family, The Augustats.

My new home was led by a strong headed, and big hearted woman named Bonny and a gentle, kind, hard working man named Herbert.

They became “Ma” and “Dad” and included me, with many other foster children, combined with five of their own, into a family that trumped the Waltons and put the Brady Bunch to shame.

Herb and Bonny were one of the few foster parents who would accept teenaged girls at the time.

At one point, there were eleven kids in that huge brick house.

Herb added onto the house, one brick at a time with his own hands, to make the kitchen bigger, and the house more conducive to the expanding family.

I remember him sitting in the back yard visualizing how he would add a garage and entry, where the side steps led into the kitchen.

He was a quiet thoughtful man with an uncanny ability to bring his thoughts into fruition.

Herb never complained. He worked.

Even when he was trying to quit smoking— he patiently and steadily kept laying bricks and adding to that house without ever demonstrating irritability or an unkind word.

Herb is a good metaphor for foundation and stability.

I learned so much from him.

He was the first person to show me how to sweep a floor without spreading the dirt into the next room with every stroke.

Herb was a new kind of father that I had not known prior to that—the good kind—and he showed his love for his family through his actions.

Bonny was a force to be reckoned with—a force of love and affection like I had never been exposed to.

She hugged, she laughed, she yelled sometimes, she tickled and teased, she listened and directed, and she put her giant heart out for the world to take part.

My new family came with siblings, doing what siblings do, with everybody growing up like a tribe of banshees with Bonny at the helm, making sure the kids became good people who felt loved, and Herb as the stable foundation providing continuity and an example of what a good person is.

I recently received an e-mail with the the word Sister in the header.

It said “I found you!”

It was sent by Herb and Bonny’s youngest daughter, Ellie whom I have not seen for decades.

My heart skipped and my mind flooded with memories.

There are so many that I cannot list them here but they are forever imprinted in who I grew up to be.

Thank you for families who find lost children and thank you for finding them again, years later.


~ by leakelley on January 4, 2010.

11 Responses to “Thank You for Lost and Found Families”

  1. Such a beautiful story. You were one of the lucky ones.

  2. What a wonderful family to have found you, not once, but twice 🙂

  3. Great story..made my day

  4. (sniff)

  5. Gosh! I never knew this side of you.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  6. “One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.”
    —Rita Mae Brown

  7. Thank you for speaking so honestly about 2 of my most favorite people 🙂 – Grandma & Grandad’s baby girl, Caren

  8. Funny thing my heart skipped when I saw you here also. I am so happy that I found you here and I am a firm believer that everthing happens for a reason. Not only found once but twice is a true statement. Thank you Lea for coming into our life. You are a blessing. Your Sister Ellie.

  9. A wonderful view into a stable foster home, so many others can’t say the same – Are Herb and Bonny still alive?

    • Bonnie passed away 08-16-09 we all miss her very much Herb is still alive and thinks of all the kids often.

  10. This is such a wonderful story! Foster Care done RIGHT, and so often we only know or hear of the other side of things. Thanks for sharing it, and congratulations to both of you!

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