I just finished the audiobook, “Three Little Words” yesterday. It’s read by the author, Ashley Rhodes-Courter. I found it on my library’s audiobook website, and was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. I’m always interested in the stories of foster/adopted children. The book’s description said that it would open my eyes to the truth of the foster care system, which instantly intrigued me.
The cover of the book, featuring a little girl in angel wings, was what first grabbed me. There’s something about it that is both innocent and haunting. When I began reading it, I discovered that that was an accurate assessment. Ashley’s innocent life was haunted with some very real and frightening horrors.
The book begins with the story of a teenage mother whose twin sister and she take on the responsibility of raising her child, Ashley. The mother isn’t sure who the father is, and struggles to come up with the necessary requirements for raising a child (food, housing, etc.). She begins dating and later has two children with a man who isn’t always the best to her, but helps to take care of both her and her children. She overlooks the sour aspects of the relationship in favor of the sweet. These two young people do their best (at times) to raise these children, yet are often overcome with difficulties and hardships. Poor choices, including drug abuse, aid in the making of the storm which causes the child protective services to come in and take custody of the children (at this point there are only two children, as one of them died of SIDS shortly after birth). The children long to be reunited with their mother; however, they are placed in the foster care system with no explanations given to them. They are puzzled, scared, and anxious for their futures. As they move through the foster system, their situation seems to only grow worse. They are placed in overcrowded homes, where children are often neglected. Their worst experience comes when they are placed at the Moss family residence, which is actually more of a torture chamber. Mrs. Moss is an evil woman who gets a sick satisfaction out of terrorizing children. It’s terrible to listen to how horrifically she treats the children, then when the case workers come around, she bakes cookies and acts perfect and pleasant. It’s stomach-turning, really. Eventually Ashley makes her way to a home in which her future adoptive parents spot her and begin the process of taking her into their family and lives. Ashley is hesitant to believe that these people truly care about her due to the letdowns and mistreatments she’s experienced in the past. She acts out when she begins to live with them, expecting them to give up on her, too. But they don’t. They accept her, work with her, love her, and reassure her that she’s there to stay.
With their help they are able to bring her case to court to prevent any more children from being taken in and abused by the Moss family. They fight for not only Ashley but for all foster children who are mistreated and abused every day in America. The impact she has is extraordinary, earning herself a ticket to the White House to meet the president, as well as another meeting with J.K. Rowling (who she admires due to Harry Potter’s orphan status, and the similarities between Hogwarts and Ashley’s experiences at the children’s home). Ashley becomes a confident and impassioned speaker who travels sharing her story in an attempt to encourage social workers, foster care workers and families, the court system, and anyone with an interest in the well-being of children, to keep their eyes and ears open, to listen to the children, provide the care the children need, and get them into a stable forever home as soon as is reasonable. She honors her guardian ad litem, Mary Miller, for how hard she fought for her to keep her safe and find her a good and loving home. (The picture below is of Mary Miller and Ashley)
This book inspired me in many ways. As I mentioned, I’ve always had a special interest in foster/adopted children. I would absolutely love to get personally involved in foster care someday, with the hopes of adopting a child or two. I love kids and have such compassion for children who have been through difficult times. Hearing stories like Ashley’s makes me all the more passionate about fighting for these children to have a chance to become who they can be, nourished with the love and respect they deserve that will help them grow. It’s really an extraordinary book, but what’s even more outstanding is how wonderfully this young lady turned out, despite the painful things she has gone through. She’s an inspiration not only to foster children/adopted children, but to all people, as we are all interconnected in the human family. “Whatsoever you do for the least of these…”