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"BEFORE I BRING BELINDA into the room, I want to fill you in on a bit of her history. Of course I can't go into too much detail…" Jocelyn Perigard, a social worker employed by Kenniwick County's Social Services Department, paused, fixing her squinty eyes upon Steven Chrestman.
"Of course," Steven said, nodding his dark head. "Client confidentiality."
From the onset, the middle-aged Perigard had directed all of her remarks to Alyse's husband who was also a social worker, though employed by a private, non-profit agency, all but ignoring her. The tall, angular woman made Alyse feel like one of the population Steven served, the retarded—or developmentally disabled as he preferred to call them.
Perceptive as usual, Steven reached under the table they were seated around and squeezed Alyse's hand reassuringly. She smiled at her handsome husband and thought, as she had at least a million times before, that he was handsome enough to be a movie star.
Despite his careful combing, a curl escaped from his nearly black, wavy hair, falling onto his wide, tanned forehead. Long, thick dark lashes, which made most women envious, fringed his intelligent, startling blue eyes. His nose was just slightly crooked from playing high school football, and he smiled often, displaying healthy straight teeth. Steven's dark coloring contrasted sharply with Alyse's own fair skin and golden hair. She considered herself attractive, and despite having given birth to three children, she could be proud of her trim figure.
Ms. Perigard fiddled with her frizzy perm and adjusted her owl-sized glasses before continuing. "The child has been abused. Theabuser is no longer living and since he was the one who provided her with a home, she's become a ward of the state." The woman cleared her throat.
"Usually there's no problem placing a Caucasian, four-year-old. However, Belinda's behavior in foster homes has caused us to realize that the adoptive home chosen for her must have special attributes."
Alyse knew one of the attributes Ms. Perigard referred to was Steven's profession. She doubted that Ms. Perigard had placed much value on the fact Alyse was the mother of three well-behaved, healthy, socially adjusted children, or that she had a B.A. degree in Early Childhood Education and had worked as the director of a preschool until the birth of Andrew, their eldest child.
"I've dealt with many abused children. Security and love will eventually heal all wounds," Alyse said, unable to keep silent any longer.
"I'm glad to hear you say that. Belinda needs a lot of both ingredients." Ms. Perigard shuffled through the two-inch thick pile of papers in the manila folder marked with the name, Belinda Sleigh.
"All of her immunizations are up to date. To our knowledge, she's had none of the usual childhood illnesses yet. And considering her background, she did remarkably well on all the intelligence tests."
The woman paused, and for the first time since the Chrestmans entered the office, she fixed her eyes upon Alyse. "You are aware since this is a pre-adoptive placement and not foster care that you won't be receiving any payment from the county?"
Feeling her face flame with anger, Alyse wasn't sure she could answer without allowing her feelings toward the woman to show. But she didn't have to because Steven jumped in. "Of course we understand, Jocelyn. I'm sure you studied our financial declaration before making any decision about us. You know we'll be able to absorb the costs of adding one little girl to our family without even noticing."
Alyse couldn't help but smile at her husband's understated put-down, or the fact that it hadn't been lost on Ms. Perigard. Beside his salary from the Great Valley Regional Center, after his parents' demise in a private plane crash, Steven had inherited their home in Aspen Springs along with substantial bank accounts and investments.
"Yes…well…" The woman cleared her throat again and rose from her chair. "Then it's time I brought Belinda in to meet her new parents."
Many hours of family discussions, prayer, and soul searching had brought the Chrestmans to this point. For several months, Kenniwick County Social Services had been printing photographs in the local newspapers of children they termed un-adoptable in an effort to entice married couples who might not have thought of the possibility, to consider adoption. Some of the advertised children had developmental delays, others were multiply handicapped, and several were of mixed ethnic heritages. Alyse had read each article with increasing interest.
When she'd brought up the idea of applying for one of the "un-adoptables", Steven had not been enthusiastic. "Don't you think our own three children are enough for you to cope with? After all, Pammy is only eighteen months old."
But she'd persisted. Pastor Piling's sermon entitled, 'Sharing God's Blessings' had helped win Steven over. The Chrestmans regularly attended Aspen Springs Community Church, striving to lead Christian lives in order to be good examples to their children and the community. The minister based his sermon on Matthew 10:8 which ended with the words, "…freely ye have received, freely give." The admonition convinced Steven.
The only stipulation he voiced was, "Don't pick a child with developmental disabilities. I'm afraid it would be overkill for me, since I'm involved with that population in my profession."
When Belinda's picture appeared in the paper, Alyse knew at once she was the one. The children had enthusiastically agreed to share their home and parents with the unfortunate tyke. Even Steven, after reading about the poor little girl, abandoned by her mother, her step-father killed in an accident, abused in a foster home, had become enthusiastic.
The only dissenting voice had come from Alyse's mother, Rosalind Dwyer. Alyse called her mother at her parents' home in an elegant retirement community in Laguna Hills to inform her of the family decision. "But my dear, you'll certainly be spreading yourself thin, with four children to care for," Rosalind said. "And what do you really know about this child's background? What sort of stock she comes from."
"Oh, mother, who cares about her pedigree. I know I have plenty of love for everyone. And that's what it's going to take. And after all, I have Celina to help me."
Copyright © 2005 Marilyn Meredith.
Posted October 3, 2007
Wishing Makes It So is a horrific tale about a mini-monster infiltrating a sympathetic family. Belinda, a beautiful five year old orphan, moves in with The Chrestmans, a loving family willing to share their hearts and home. But being compassionate can prove fatal when the new member of the family isn¿t the center of attention. Marilyn Meredith weaves a skin crawling web of manipulative scheming and diabolical actions that will make you cringe. This book is addictive. Its pages turn as if it has a will of its own. Her story telling is artfully done making the characters seem as real as a person sitting in front of you and the antagonist as threatening as a stranger tailing you in a dark alley. Loved it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2006
With a heartfelt conviction that ¿love conquers all¿, Alyse Chrestman convinces her husband, Steven, and their two older children, Holly and Andrew, to open their hearts and home to an unfortunate foster child. Four-year-old Belinda Sleigh seems to be the perfect candidate and fits in nicely between eighteen-month-old Pammy, the youngest Chrestman, and Holly and Andrew. Steven¿s experience as a counselor and Alyse¿s teaching skills, along with their combined success in a marriage where love and nurturing are the norm has already produced three happy, well-adjusted children and leaves no doubt as to their capabilities to handle whatever initial challenges might arise. With the help of housekeeper, Celina, and her husband and groundskeeper, Juan Miguel, little Belinda¿s life is about to turn into a fairy tale. Dismayed that Belinda shows her no affection, Alyse watches as the beautiful little waif seeks comfort and acceptance in the arms of Steven, who has always strived to show equal attention and time to each child. It is soon evident that Belinda has Steven wrapped around her little finger when he continues to dismiss devious pranks played on Belinda¿s new siblings as accidents. Little Pammy alone is unwavering in her love and acceptance of the newest member of the family. When Alyse and the older children realize little Belinda¿s malicious behavior is more than they can handle, Alyse is accused of jealousy and their once-solid marriage may be moving toward rocky ground. An unheeded warning, a heart-wrenching discovery and an unbelievable accusation keep this plot moving at a fast and furious pace. Despite the fact I was warned that Wishing Makes It So is a dark novel, I was unprepared for the raw emotion I had to deal with as I agonized with this unsuspecting family. Just when you think you can let down your guard and life is returning to some semblance of ¿normal¿, the terror starts anew. Put an extra cushion on your reading chair, folks. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, that¿s where you¿ll be perched until you reach the very last page. Meredith dispenses suspense and horror with equal disregard for your anxiety level as she interrupts the cozy life of the Chrestman family in this superb tale of blood-curdling psychological suspense.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2006
Kenniwick County Social Services Department Social Worker Jocelyn Perigard explains to Alyse and Steven Chrestman that the four year girl they want to adopt has had behavioral problems in the foster homes that she resided in. However, the idealistic young couple, parents of three healthy children (Andrew, Holly and toddler Pammy), wants to do something good for someone else. They chose the troubled Belinda because they believe their successful parenting experience coupled with his background as a social worker and her PH.D and work with preschoolers provide them with the skills to succeed in bringing the child into a loving caring environment. --- However, in spite of their good intentions, Belinda proved more than just a handful. At times sweet and innocent, she more often is vindictive, sneaky, and nasty. She takes pleasure in hurting other children and vandalizing other people¿s property. However, she soon decides that she needs to be the only child in the Chrestman household and considers becoming the only female as she covets her daddy¿s attention. Mommy knows but daddy seems charmed by the child. --- WISHING MAKES IT SO is a deep character study that Dean Koontz would be proud to have written as the suspense grips readers from start to finish. The story line is fast-paced but filled with surprise spins as tension mounts from the moment Belinda enters the Chrestman home and never slows down until her final arrival at the house she called home for awhile. Readers who appreciate a strong tense thriller filled with real people will want to read Marilyn Meredith¿s superb shocker in which the roads to hell is paved with good intentions while your escort may be a beautiful little girl with a devil of a heart. --- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 26, 2006
'Wishing Makes It So' by Marilyn Meredith is a powerful story about a little girl who's amoral, and the hideous acts she commits to get what she wants. No adult ever wants to believe a child is evil for the sake of evilness, but other children always seem to know well in advance what kind of monster lurks beneath good looks, moderate behavior, and a cherub smile. Read 'Wishing Makes It So' with an open mind. Remember, children are just as capable of violent and manipulative acts as adults are. If in doubt, reread 'Lord of the Flies,' 'The Innocent Voyage,' or 'The Dollhouse.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2011
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Posted August 2, 2013
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