by Ellen Fannon
Interesting title. What is the book about?
This is a humorous, fictional book based on my husband’s and my ten years as foster parents.
What an incredible ministry. Please tell us more about the book.
It is a contemporary fiction. As a mid-thirties woman, Robin has all the answers on proper parenting. It doesn’t take long, however, for Robin to realize that her perfect parenting ideas and reality often collide—the result being an amusing journey of finding out that God, indeed, has a sense of humor. As she deals with the baggage, idiosyncrasies, unique personalities, and special gifts of each child who crosses her path, she finds that there is no “one-size fits all” to parenting. However, in spite of the challenges she and her husband face, they are determined to become the children’s strongest advocates in a flawed system that often fails the very victims it is designed to protect. The journey is often heartbreaking and frustrating, but these foster parents are firmly resolved that for whatever time they have children in their care, the children will know they are safe, protected and loved by God . . . and their foster parents.
Lovely message. What prompted you to write about this?
Several things inspired me to write Other People’s Children. First, I felt it was a timely book with a story which needed to be told. With a child entering foster care every 120 seconds in this country, the numbers of children in the system just keep growing. This is largely due to an increase in substance abuse by parents. Sadly, as the number of children in foster care grows, the number of available foster homes is decreasing. I highly recommend that anyone considering becoming foster parents read this book.
Second, I have not seen another book written from the perspective of a foster parent. Most books, movies, etc. portray foster parents in a negative light, which gives those who are truly trying to make a difference in a child’s life a bad name.
Third, I wrote it for entertainment. Other People’s Children is the humorous look at a very imperfect woman whose concepts of how things should be and how things actually are often collide.
Fourth, I wrote it to present Christ. Although not “preachy,” I wanted the message to come across that the main character, although often falling short, tries her best to be a good Christian wife and mother, who will not compromise her beliefs for anything, including political correctness.
Who will benefit from reading Other People’s Children?
Anyone who is a foster parent or considering becoming a foster parent should read Other People’s Children. Besides those in foster parenting, Other People’s Children is a humorous, entertaining, and thought-provoking read.
Sounds like a good read for everyone! Thank you.
WHY are children so childish? Robin groused to herself as she sat valiantly attempting to put two coherent thoughts together for her newspaper column that was due tomorrow. But every time she had an idea, it disappeared through the leaky sieve of her brain before she could formulate it into meaningful words on her computer screen. She was having difficulty concentrating due to the continuous racket of yelling, slamming, stomping, and arguing that was threatening to tear the house apart. Tuning it out had not worked. Nor had ignoring it – and she was starting to become concerned about what she would find beyond her office door. Muttering under her breath, she threw open the door and ventured forth into the fray.
Of course. They were arguing over the fly swatter. There were only two million, five-hundred thousand, six hundred and seventy four (give or take) assorted toys of every shape, size, color, and model in the play room, as well as enough outdoor play equipment to make it look like their home was the site of a perpetual yard sale, and the kids were arguing over the fly swatter. She put her hands on her hips and glared at the three youngsters engaged in the heat of the battle.
“I had it FIRST!” declared Jeremy.
“But I saw the fly!” countered Jenny.
“Miss Robin,” cried Melody, spying a potential ally, “Jeremy said HE had it first, but I really did! Honest!”
James is right, thought Robin, wearily, We really DO need a new hobby! Maybe skydiving. Or running with the bulls. Either would certainly be less stressful and less dangerous!
To lend some background to the above scenario, Robin was a horrible person. The worst of the worst. Worse even than the evil proverbial wicked stepmother in the Grimm’s fairy tales (although she was that, too.) She and her husband, James, were the type of people who were always plastered in the media – television shows and movies, books, newspaper and magazine articles – that made shivers run down peoples’ spines at the mere mention of what they did. More sinister than axe murderers, more malevolent than terrorists! They were FOSTER PARENTS! Yes, foster parents! They took in other people’s children in order to rake in big bucks from the state Department of Children and Families, and once they had the helpless miniature humans in their evil clutches, they abused them for their own deviant amusement, forced them into unpaid servitude, locked them in dark closets, starved them, and otherwise ignored and neglected them.
She took in a deep, sighing breath. Removing the fly swatter from Jenny’s hand, she set it on top of the refrigerator out of the children’s reach. Amid protests of “that’s not fair” and other objections, she attempted to explain to the three maligned urchins just why one didn’t play 3 with fly swatters. The reasons fell on deaf ears. Just then the phone rang. She answered it, placing one hand over her other ear in order to block out the arguing still going on in her midst.
“Mrs. Seville?” came a voice from the other end of the phone.
“Yes,” Robin struggled to hear over all the commotion. She gestured for the children to be quiet, but of course nobody paid any attention.
They had abandoned the squabble over the fly swatter and were now arguing over an old copy of “House and Garden” that one of the three children had found under the sofa. The dust covered magazine was being ripped apart in three different directions as each child angrily declared it to be “mine”. Actually, it was Robin’s, but it had been so long since she had had the time to sit down and leaf through a magazine, she figured all the decorating ideas were passé by now, anyway. Not that she ever tried any of the suggestions. Somehow in her hands, the desired effect was never quite achieved and simply looked retro tacky or Early American hideous. And the garden? Forget it. The only thriving green in her yard were the weeds. She was truly cursed with the ability to kill any living plant she got her hands on – weeds excepted. She cowered each time she entered the garden center, afraid that someone would recognize her as the plant murderer and throw her out. Of course, on the other hand, the garden center did make a lot of money off of her, as she steadfastly refused to give up purchasing more plants to slaughter with her black thumb, just knowing that this time they would thrive!
She attempted to walk into the other room, but the three little persecuted human beings followed after her, each trying to out yell the other in order to have his or her case heard.
“This is Beth Hampton with the Department of Children and Families. I’m the new case worker for Jeremy and Jenny. I am in the neighborhood and I need to stop by and see them.”
NOW? Robin groaned inwardly. The house was a mess. As in, worse than the customary mess it was usually in. As in somebody might alert the Health Department kind of mess. Laundry sat waiting to be folded on the coffee table. There were at least seven hundred toys that had migrated from the playroom into the living room, scattered in an obstacle course between the sofa and the television set. She had meant to clean up the dishes that still sat on the table from lunch, but forgot about when she received the news that the deadline for her column had to be moved up due to the holiday weekend. At least a dozen pairs of shoes littered the floor of the foyer, as well as backpacks that had been left where they were thrown, the contents of which were spilling out in their own jumble of disorganized clutter.
She smacked her hand to her forehead in a dramatic gesture and tried very hard not to say a bad word. Saying bad words in front of children was not only an un-Christian thing to do, but would likely be repeated at the worst possible moment. “Um, how long will it take you to get here?” she queried.
“Miss Robin,” interrupted Melody. “The dog pooped in the hall.”
“EEWWWW!” Jeremy and Jenny chimed in. “It stinks!”
About the Author
Award winning author, Ellen Fannon, is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, and church pianist/organist. She originated and wrote the Pet Peeves column for the Northwest Florida Daily News before taking a two-year assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.
Her articles appear regularly in One Christian Voice and she has a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Life Lessons From the Dog. In addition, she writes a weekly humor blog on her website https://ellenfannonauthor.com and online for the Northwest Florida Daily News https://nwfdailynews.com.
Her first novel, Other People’s Children, the humorous account of the life of a foster parent, is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the trunk of her car.
Ellen and her husband have been foster parents for more than 40 children, and the adoptive parents of two sons. She lives in Valparaiso with her husband, son, and assorted pets.
Connect with Ellen Fannon
Blog at The Northwest Florida Daily News, nwfdailynews.com