Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

When Parents Opt Out

Precious times two

“They say that abandonment is a wound that never heals. I say only that an abandoned child never forgets.” ~ Mario Balotelli


Working the last few flights of a three-day trip, I’m organizing the back galley when two little girls, I’m guessing to be around seven and four, come back to say hello.

“Are you our flight attendant?” the older one asks.

“I am.” I smile, a stack of napkins slipping from my fingers.

They rush over. “It’s okay, sweethearts. Don’t touch the dirty floor.”

Too late. They’ve already scooped them up, proudly dropping them in the trash.

“You look really pretty,” the younger girl says.

“So do you,” I say. “I love your shirt. Pink is my favorite color.”

She giggles. “Mine too, but this is actually my pajama top.”

“Well, it’s perfect — and it matches your shoes.”

She beams.

“Where are you going?” (I’m thinking Disneyland based upon our destination.)

“California,” the older girl says.


“I’m not sure.”

“Are you getting off at the first or second stop?”

“The next one.”

“Then you’re going to southern.”

“Okay. ” She shrugs. “That’s beautiful.” She gently taps my bracelet.

“Just like both of you.”

They blush in unison, and I follow them to their seats, eager to compliment the folks responsible for raising such charming children.

“Are these your daughters?” I ask the woman they quietly slide past.

She purses her lips. “Oh, no.  I’m just escorting them to a new home. They’re foster kids, and I’m their case worker.”

My lungs lock. “Well, they’re adorable,” I choke out the words.

Her eyes dart in their direction. “Yes, I suppose so.”

I flee to my galley, tears of disbelief pooling. They should be going to Disneyland — NOT a “new” home!!!! What happened to their parents? Why are these precious dolls floating around the system? And what if things don’t work out this time? Should I call my husband and tell him I’m bringing home two angels to shower with love — and anything else they’ve spent their tender years going without?? I write down my name and number to give the social worker.

But my head interjects, giving my heart a run for its money: This is none of my concern. Who am I to interfere? I probably wouldn’t even qualify as a legal guardian — I’ve never parented anybody!

And so…

I do nothing but serve them drinks and peanuts, all the while marveling at their sweet demeanor and impeccable manners.

An hour later they wave goodbye, sparkly-eyed and grinning. They seem so happy so — well-adjusted.

They’ll be fine.

I tell myself

over and over

just fine…





🌺For many, Mother’s and Father’s Days trigger more feelings of loss than joy. I dedicate this to ALL those who’ve had to grovel (like my husband) for the parental love I’ve taken for granted.🌺

***Luggage Lady is off to the Balkans. I’ll return with more stories soon…😘

(Photo: From our 40-mile hike to Machu Picchu, Peru 2013 💕 Incidentally, this darling boy had two doting parents hovering nearby…I just loved the picture.)

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39 thoughts on “When Parents Opt Out

  1. Maria Casuso on said:

    God bless you Shauna, and your ever so beautiful loving heart ❤️
    Yet another beautiful story that flowed so magically .. From your amazing soul
    The moment I started reading , I knew where you were going with this story.
    You touched the sweet girls lives forever, you’re truly an Angel here on earth 💞

    • Your unbelievably kind presence makes my heart soar. YOU, of all people, who touch so many lives with you loving spirit. Love you, Sweet Maria — always and forever!!! 💕

  2. This is a beautiful and poignant post Shauna. You have such a kind heart and would be a great parent too. Clearly, your love touched the girls and brightened their day. I wonder about being a foster parent or even temporary home too. I’ve heard that we have a large need in Arkansas.
    May more of these foster kids find loving homes.

  3. Kate on said:


  4. Shauna – this is such creative and simple a great complex to read this story….a foster parent story touched my heart!

  5. So lovely and sad at the same time. I wish those two little girls a happy loving home.

    • I see so many heartbreaking situations in my line of work and feel helpless. I realize I cannot fix the world…but maybe just sharing a story or two will breed a little more compassion. I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, Dearest Chia!

  6. What a heart wrenching and beautiful story. It brings up lots of emotion in me. The photo you chose is a heart breaker paired with this story too. Those kids are so ready to love and I do hope they find it in this big big crazy world we live in. Lisa

    • You describe them perfectly, Dear Lisa! SO ready for love, so eager to please — just ravenous little hearts longing for something that I’ve never had to spend a solitary second waiting for…Truly heart wrenching. But we can hope for them, and so many others in their sad situation, for love to eventually fill their world! Thank you for being here! xo

      • My pleasure. Stories like this one motivate me to love a little larger as I go about my day. Let compassion rule the day and release judgements out the back window. 🙏🏼

  7. Terrific story! Sometimes we just have to satisfy ourselves in knowing that we gave someone all the love and care we could in passing. Your brief, but kind moment could be just what they needed IN that moment–and the fond memory of it may be just the small thing that helps make a difference some time in their future.

    Small acts of love and kindness like that are the very things that will transform our world. Thank you for being the Light that you are–and for sharing this story. Just keep shinin’!


  8. Wow—such a tough encounter –first, it matters not that you’ve not parented—the love in your heart, the generosity, caring, compassion, desire to share. . .that’s already more than a lot of “regular” parents possess- – -and it is your concern as they crossed your path—I don’t believe in random encounters- – -there is purpose in this universe of ours as God directs all of our paths. . .
    I would have done just what you did–begin to offer, then think better of it—so hard.
    Thank you for sharing such a heart warming and heart wrenching story. . .gives us all something to think about- – –
    Happy travels my friend —Julie

    • You are absolutely correct about nothing being “random,” Dear Julie! I appreciate that you would have done the same as I’m still torn, wishing I’d done more…Thank you for your kind travel wishes. I’m siting in Frankfurt, Germany as I type awaiting my flight to Romania. Sending you hugs, LL

  9. You have such a beautiful heart, Shauna, full of love and compassion. I hope the new home for these little girls was carefully chosen, and will provide them with love, caring and whatever else they have not received. Thank you for sharing.

    • It’s takes one to know one – thank you for your constant love and kindness Tiny!!!! Yes, I keep picturing them with those same happy-go-lucky grins and hoping for their future… 💕

  10. this is a difficult read for me – children are beautiful and remarkable in more ways than most of us can ever imagine. thank you for sharing your lovely story.

  11. Very touching story and what a tough situation. I would have wanted to take them with me too. Shauna, no one has any experience at being a parent. What children need is what you already have, a very kind and loving heart. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

    • Oh, Natalie, you certainly know how to put the sunshine in a girl’s heart. Your words are so true. If only my husband could have believed he’s be a good parent (after his abusive upbringing), we’d have house full of adopted children…Sending love and blessing to you and yours always. 💖

      • Of course, I have no idea what kind of abuse your husband endured, but for what it’s worth, I grew up enduring some emotional abuse, as did my husband, that affects us both still today more than half a century later. But I made the decision to make sure that my child suffered no such abuse. All of us have baggage of some sort and I was not the perfect parent, none of us are. But I did a pretty good job of not handing my baggage over to her. What helped me do that as much as anything else was that I was 30 when she was born and my husband was 37. We had both matured a great deal and were ready to work at being good parents, and we were. My daughter and her husband married in their early 30’s and suffered a miscarriage of their only child, but they have adopted two Guatemalan children. Both boys were adopted at birth, but the legalities kept them from being able to be brought here until the first one was 6 months old and the second one was 8 mos. old. Anyway, I just wanted to give you some things to think about before you completely closed the door on having children. One last thing, I can say this that they, children, open a door in your heart and soul that is such an amazing blessing. Have a great day! 🙂 ❤

  12. What a great story- and I love your final statements of those who have had to “grovel” for parental love. Your awareness is so touching.

  13. What a beautiful story… Brought tears to my eyes as I read on…

  14. My dear LL, How happy I am to know that you and your radiant soul landed on the path of those little girls–ensuring that they were touched by your beautiful spirit. The heartbreaking tale you so vividly, sensitively depict is all too common–and tragic. And part of why we adopted a child…if only there weren’t untold numbers of others still in orphanages and on the streets and in unhealthy situations…..

    Thank you for helping us remember how crucial it is to pitch in as we can, my big-hearted friend.

    I hope that as I write, you are enjoying a splendid adventure with your amazing “Fly Guy!”

    Love you

    • Wow, Chloe. I knew about your beautiful family (from your gorgeous holiday photos) but would love to talk to you more about your adoption experience. I always wanted to do that but could never convince Mark. He was terrified he’d be a horrible parent based upon his horrible upbringing. The irony is that he’s the favorite uncle in our family and would have been fantastic. It is one of my greatest regrets. So, bravo to YOU and your enormous heart!!!

      Thank you for the travel blessings. As I type, we are awaiting our connecting flight to Bucharest, Romania out of Frankfurt. My ability to be on the internet will be limited, but I promise to catch up soon. 💞

  15. So beautiful! I just had this experience w a little boy yesterday. Me and Linda were so touched. We are SO LUCK to have the love we had and have. Keep writing!!! ❤

  16. Fostering is a complicated business. We adopted our foster child many, many years ago… It’s been a long and strange journey with birth children too. Being adopted myself it was a journey I had to take. You give and lose too. Not everyone is a winner. A path you may think is right, doesn’t always turn out to be what you think…. And now she is a grown woman on a journey of her own—and that, too, is odd and disconnected. But still, we do what we feel is right at the time. ❤

    • Thank you for sharing your personal story. Bless you, and so many like you, who open your heart and home, knowing the journey will have many twists and turns — but embarking upon it nonetheless. My deepest respect and admiration go out to you. 💖

  17. This story touches my heart. What a lovely person you are! Do you know there are millions of sweet souls around the world like the two little girls with nobody to love and help to be what God created them to be? At this moment I am running a fund titled RESCUE FUND FOR THE DESPERATE and we have saved four lives already through community donations and heart operations. Indeed, many lovely souls around the world need lovely souls like you to live and be happy. Thanks for the sunshine you spread through your posts.

  18. Hi Luggage Lady. Such a lovely story. It’s sad how children are too often treated. Thank you for liking my poem Bizarre! Peace and Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.

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