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The Things I Want Most: The Extraordinary Story of a Boy's Journey to a Family of His Ownby Richard Miniter
Synopses & Reviews
This is the true story of a remarkable and profoundly emotionally disturbed boy who descended upon our woefully unprepared family in late summer of 1993.
It is the story of his first year, of his progress, the changes he forced in the family and in himself, and to some considerable degree it is a story of animals, of legends and woodsmoke, and of a special program called Harbour.
The book is based upon numerous letters, documents, and a detailed, day-by-day diary I have of eight of those twelve months. At the request of the Dutchess County, New York, Department of Social Services, the name of the boy and the names of some other individuals have been changed. To provide a clearer illustration of the various lessons the family learned and to explain why we acted the way we did, I've occasionally altered the chronology and frequently indulged in mind reading, for which I apologize. None of the conversations in the book was ever recorded electronically and then transcribed. Many conversations were recorded word for word in my diary at the end of the day, but others were reconstructed in the following year based on diary entries and some questioning, but mostly on the memories of family members.
To other new parents of emotionally disturbed, difficult, or abused children, I can only say "God bless you," because despite being very experienced parents, we survived that first year in part, as my wife Sue says, "because after firing every arrow in our quiver, we threw rocks," but then as our "rocks" grew too heavy to shoulder, we were sustained with prayer, imagination, and by other family members, not the least of whom was the boy himself.
Chapter One: A Family, a Fishing Pole, a Family
"Why would they even show us something like this?"
It was the spring of 1993, and I was asking the question of my wife, Susan. We were alone in an office on the top floor of a house the Mental Health Association had converted to its headquarters. There, for the better part of the morning, we had been examining a file. And if the file was only half accurate, the child described in it was a monster. In fact, as I read on, one word kept tramping back and forth in my thoughts with heavy boots--sociopath, sociopath, sociopath. The person--the child--I was reading about was a sociopath.
At this time in my life I hadn't had any thought at all of helping anyone else, much less someone who needed this much effort. But we had been working up to this point ever since Sue had erupted with a sudden, bizarre interest in foster children a few months ago. It wasn't the first occasion in our married life when she had roared off after something. In fact, I often thought of her as a tiny door that opened on an immense furnace. But that extravagant force had usually been directed at some issue in the lives of our own five sons and one daughter or, as they grew, at the building of SCM Tax Prep, her tax preparation and financial planning business.
This, I had thought to myself many times at the start of those months, wasn't her. And it wasn't me, either. I had spent twenty-five years in manufacturing, beginning fresh from four and a half years in the Marine Corps as an expediter for a division of North American Phillips before winding up as a director of manufacturing for a medium-sized corporation in New Jersey. Then, determined to
Rich and Sue Miniter relate their experiences as the foster parents of Mike, a young boy who had been a victim of severe abuse and neglect, had lived in a dozen foster homes, and had been given up on by virtually everyone else.
The remarkable story of a couple who risked everything to open their home--and their hearts--to answer an abandoned child's wish.
It was a small note buried in the file of a deeply troubled eleven-year-old boy--a plea for a normal life Rich and Sue Miniter couldn't ignore:
The Things I Want MOST:
A fishing pole
A familyThe Miniters heard in that simple note the voice of a frightened child who wanted what all children want and need: someone to love who would love them in return.
So they brought Mike home to the cozy country inn they'd restored and managed in rural upstate New York. There, over the next year, they would try to make Mike's dream come true. But first they would have to work through the fear, anger, and distrust that accompanied this boy who had lived his whole life with the label "severely emotionally disturbed." For the biggest obstacle to Mike's happiness was Mike himself, who gave the Miniters every reason to give up but one--the power of love.
When Richard and Sue Miniter decided to open their home--and their hearts--to a foster child, they couldn't imagine the frustrations and joys, the breakthroughs and setbacks, not to mention the emotional toll, that awaited them. Here is the remarkable true story of how their lives changed forever with their decision to answer an abandoned child's wish for THE THINGS I WANT MOST. -->
About the Author
Richard Miniter lives and works with his wife, Susan, a financial planner, in a country inn they are restoring in upstate New York.
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