A special Christmas gift helps foster child feel at home

FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — It’s been two years since Fluvanna County resident Wendy Edwards and her husband became foster parents to four young siblings they now plan to adopt.

With help from their community and Facebook friends, they got clothes, beds and other things the children needed. But the oldest of the kids yearned for a precious memento from her original home: a plush purple owl.

Edwards calls the children the “Bees” to meet the privacy rules of foster care that prohibit naming them in media or online until their adoptions are complete. She says the six-year-old girl, she calls “Bee One,” would frequently express homesickness. When Edwards would ask the girl what she missed, the answer was always the same.

“She says, ‘I miss purple owl’,” Edwards said.

She started searching for a replacement purple owl online, with no luck.

“I searched eBay,” she said. “I’ve literally been looking for this thing for two years.”

As Christmas approached, Edwards shared the kids’ wish lists on Facebook, including the girl’s only request from Santa.

“I had no idea it was going to start up a firestorm of people looking for purple owl,” Edwards said.

The search for the owl was led by one of Edward’s friends, Rose Lemaster, who understood the importance of the request because she was in foster care as a child.

“People have different ideas of what home is,” Lemaster said. “For a lot of the kids in the foster system, home could be something simple. It could be a toy; it could be a blanket; it could be a pillow.”

Lemaster put the word out through her social media, and the search for the purple owl got a big boost from Buy Nothing groups up and down the East Coast.

“Within 24 hours of me putting the request out with the story, I got a message that said, ‘I think we found one in Maryland,'” Lemaster said.

The good news didn’t end there. The family who found the gently used owl in a closet wouldn’t take any money, and a Good Samaritan in the post office paid for the shipping.

“No money exchanged hands,” said Lemaster. “Just nothing but giving and wanting to make a kid’s Christmas wish come true.”

On Christmas morning, the girl discovered that Santa had come through.

“She was so excited, she screamed and then she was like, purple owl, purple owl,” Edwards said.

That joyful reunion prompted Lemaster and others who helped in the hunt for the owl to go further. They started a Facebook group called Mission: Home to help other foster children recover beloved pieces of their pasts.

“We’ve got a mom network that is fierce,” Lemaster said. “And I think we can make some more miracles happen.”

For more information on the Mission: Home group, click on the link in the Related Links box.

Read the original version of this article at cbs19news.com.

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