by Pamela Paul | The New York Times
On Christmas Eve in 2007, the State of West Virginia bestowed upon Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess of Oak Hill a relative rarity in the foster-care system: a newborn. The baby girl, TiCasey, was born on Dec. 8 to a longtime drug addict, father unknown, and entered the world with cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines in her bloodstream. For two weeks after delivery, she went through withdrawal, unable to sleep and crying incessantly. When not being held by a hospital nurse, she was put in special rocking machines to help relieve her pain. Still suffering from tremors and extended crying jags, TiCasey arrived at Kutil and Hess’s home, where she was met by five other foster children all clamoring to hold her.
Over the previous two years, the couple fostered a total of 18 kids between the ages of 1 and 16; all had endured some form of abuse or neglect. While not quite a “blank slate,” TiCasey (her middle name — all except one of the children mentioned in this article are identified by their middle names to protect their privacy) was as close as most foster parents get to a child whose grim history might conceivably be overcome in a loving home. “We were just so overjoyed,” Hess recalled. “We were in disbelief that we had this beautiful redheaded baby — because you never think you’re going to get one.”