I read a lot for work, so I don’t read that much on my own time. When I do, it’s usually on a lounge chair at the beach reading a Tom Clancy paperback. Years ago, my wife goaded me to read Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. Now, I consider it essential reading for every foster parent.
In Three Little Words: A Memoir, Rhodes-Courter painfully details life growing up in the broken foster care system of 80’s and 90’s Florida. She lived in more than a dozen homes in 15 years, some so ghastly that the foster parents were later sent to jail. She had a revolving door of social workers who often overlooked gross violations of basic human decency. Yet she persevered.
Her rock solid Guardian ad Litem, advocated for her throughout her ordeal. And helped her to the place where three little words would change the trajectory of her life.
Rhodes-Courter has a hope in people and justice that is absolutely inspiring. It’s a story of survival that keeps you wondering what could possibly happen next.
A couple of things stand out to me about this book. First, the vivid account of her removal from her birth mother’s home. Second, the details of long ago abuse etched in her memory. Third, the determination not to be beat by the system that she fought so hard to survive and thrive in.
I also saw our oldest boys in Ashley’s story. Not only did she relate her on tale, but she wove in the narrative of her brother, who was seldom placed at the same home where she lived.
There’s also a lot of caution in the book for foster parents. At times, I could see the shadow of myself in the tones the book’s foster parents spoke to the children.
Though on a far, far lesser scale, I could see parallels in the way they treated these tiny heroes. It was a sobering reminder that everything I say and do affects these children in some way.
Foster parents (and adoptive parents) will walk away from this book with a deeper sense of compassion for their children’s experiences. I firmly think it should be a part of every training class.
Have you read this book? What did you think?