The police force contacted the local adoption agency immediately when no reference to Tamara Peterson had come up for three weeks. The case was extremely serious, Paige later found out, and the children were vulnerable so they need imminent placement in a secure, stable and loving family environment. Discussions needed to begin straight way as not many adopters were willing to take on four ‘abandoned’ children. To the children, especially Sophie, it all seemed very sudden. Their parents had barely been laid to rest when another set of possible parent s were forced upon them, or the children were forced upon the possible parents, depending how you look at the situation.
Lorence and Johnathan Martin were a thirty year old couple unable to have children of their own. They had been on the adoption registers for three years and had never been granted children. When the police has rung the adoption agency, the adoption manager knew that Lorence and Johnathan were exactly the right people to build a new home for these children.
Lorence and Johnathan came to collect the children on the train, there wasn’t space in their car at the present moment to fit in four children and all their luggage. For Ryan, Rose and Sophie this was an adventure in itself as they had never travelled on a train before. Paige had only done so once so it was a fairly new experience to her too. As they sped along, the children pointed out trees, animals, people and roads to each other. They were in awe of the train, the speed it reached and all the things you could see in one single journey. Lorence and Johnathan sat with the children, marvelling at their innocence and joy at things they had previously taken for granted or thought of as being a part of everyday life.
Once they had all settled down Lorence and Johnathan decided they should all introduce themselves so they could get to know each other better, despite the small number of letters and photos that had conversed between the two parties.
“Girls, boys, shall we get to know each other bit better? There’s so much we don’t know about you and you don’t know about us.” Lorence turned to smile at Johnathan who returned the smile.
“We know about each other already.” Sophie said, directing her arm over her siblings.
“Yes, but we don’t.” Johnathan told her.
“Ok. Well, I’m Sophie Rebecca Peterson and I’m six years old. My birthday is on the twenty-sixth of October and, umm, I like chocolate, drawing pictures and playing with my toy puppy Skip.” Sophie announced proudly.
“Lovely. Do you have Skip with you?” Lorence asked.
Sophie’s lip trembled slightly as she remembered that Skip had been lost when she was staying with Jason and Samantha. “No, I haven’t. Ryan says I should have outgrown him anyway but he’s nice to cuddle when I feel sad or angry.”
“We can buy you another toy if you want, Sophie. There’s no need to cry darling. I’m sure Skip is happy, wherever he is.” Johnathan said. “Lori, tell us about yourself next.”
Lorence blushed slightly and collected herself.
“I’m Lorence Martin and I’m married to Johnathan. I like to be called Lori but, if you want to, you can call me Mum. If that’s too uncomfortable for you then Lori is fine. I love cooking and baking so there’ll always be some sweet treats for you, and like Sophie, I’m a bit of a chocoholic. I also enjoy gardening and I have lots of bright, vibrant flowers in my garden and a vegetable patch. I suppose I quite like going shopping too. I also write stories in my spare time which I sometimes manage to get published in magazines and local newspapers.”
“She does love shopping and her cooking is astonishing. You can’t beat it.” Johnathan grinned.
“Wow!” Ryan gasped. “I love food. And I love helping to cook. In the foster home Talia sometimes let me help her. I can make a brilliant lasagne! And I obviously love football. I support Liverpool.”
Paige nudged Ryan and he looked at her crossly.
“Do what Sophie did and tell them your age and birthday, and your name.” Paige muttered under her breath.
“Oh, right. I’m Ryan Jacob Peterson. I’m seven and my birthday is the eighteenth of April, same as Rose’s because we’re twins.”
“I know. My younger brothers are twins and they got up to a lot of mischief when they were your age. I hope you and Rose don’t cause as much trouble as my little brothers did.” Lori laughed.
“We won’t. Of course not.” Ryan said with Rose echoing the same words. They grinned at each other as though Lori had sparked an idea in their inventive minds.
“Rose, tell us some interesting things about yourself and then I’ll tell you about myself.” Johnathan said, looking at Paige and smiling in such a way as to indicate he thought he were saving the best till last.
“I’m Rose Carla-Jade Peterson and I’m seven too. My birthday is the eighteenth of April which is soon and I’m excited to be eight. I like baking and reading and writing poetry. I also like shopping with my friends and with Paige and Sophie. Paige generally knows what I look best in, she’s my fashion guru!”
“Gorgeous. You’ll get on well with Lori. And Ryan, you’re my guy. I love football and I’m keen on the Liverpool team too. I’ll take you to see a game sometime. Anyway, I’m Johnathan Martin but I like Jack. As Lori said, you can call me Dad or Jack, I don’t mind. I’m an engineer by career and a quizmaster by night. I also like hugs so if you need one, I’m the man! Now, Paige, fire away!”
Paige glanced up at Jack before speaking.
“I’m Paige Melanie Peterson. I’m glad my initials are PMP and not PAP as that would mean I was Postage and Packing.” Paige grinned as did her siblings, they had suggested this line of introduction to her. “I’m twelve years old and I’m going to become a teenager on the thirtieth of March. I love shopping, designing clothes and making clothes. I also like decorating cakes and reading novels. I’m into classics more than modern works. I play badminton and I used to do ballet and modern until I moved to the foster home with Sophie as Jason and Samantha didn’t let me go. I like to write stories too. Maybe,” Paige ventured, “we could swap and read each other’s some time Lori?”
“Sure.” Lori returned, “That would be wonderful. I’d love to read your work.”
And then the train was pulling into the station.
“That was quick!” Ryan said, shock at the time taken to travel the huge distance written all over his face.
“That’s trains for you, son.” Jack replied.
After a short walk the new family arrived at Lori and Jack’s house. Each child was given their own room; Ryan, Rose and Sophie had a bedroom on the first floor whilst Paige was allowed the attic bedroom because she was the eldest. The rooms had an easy chair, a desk and many brightly coloured cushions laden on the bed near the pillow. The rooms looked comfortable and relaxed, they were home like and meant that the children found it even easier to settle in to their new life.
The following day Lori took the four of them shopping to buy some new clothes, toiletries, stationery and accessories. Anything they wanted, Lori bought for them although she did have to promise them this would not always be the case.
In the local shopping centre, Meadow Cross, there was a Build-a-Bear shop which Sophie demanded to go into.
“Lori, Lori, please can we go in? You said yesterday that you’d get me a new toy to replace Skip and I want a build a bear. Please?” Sophie smiled sweetly, sensing Lori was beginning to waver.
“I’d like one too, please, if you don’t think it will be too expensive.” Rose said.
“Ok,” Lori spoke in a mock-defeated tone. “The agency gave me extra money to help you all settle in so, if you want, I’ll buy you all a build a bear with one set of clothes each. Is that alright?”
“Oh yes. Thank you so much.” Sophie hugged Lori tightly and danced into the shop to begin choosing her bear.
Eventually they all had a bear. Sophie had chosen a baby pink bear with lilac and pink checked ears and paws as well as a ballet outfit and ballet shoes. Rose had a chocolate brown puppy with jeans and a floral jumper. Ryan had a khaki army bear who he had dressed in joggers and a checked shirt. Paige had opted for a cream bear with a denim skirt and a blue spotted hoodie. Lori paid after they had all named their bears and they continued with their shopping. Lori was very generous and bought many outfits and extra things for each of them.
When they returned home they sorted everything out and spent the day trying the clothes on again and playing with their new bears. Lori baked lots of cookies and cakes ready for the coming week. After Jack returned home they watched a film to help them bond as a family. So far everyone was happy with their new life.