Book reviews: The Cast-Off Kids by Trisha Merry

The Cast-Off Kids byTrisha Merry

The Cast-Off Kids byTrisha Merry

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Ten children under the age of five, a mountain of washing and a menagerie of animals… just an average day in the life of an extraordinary foster mum.

Trisha Merry is the pseudonym of a retired, award-winning foster carer in central England and over the past fifty years, she has cared for hundreds of needy and sometimes neglected children, adopting seven of them along the way.

Her amazing and moving story, featuring many children desperately in search of someone to care for them, is the rollercoaster journey of very special couple who have dedicated their lives to bring comfort and happiness to troubled youngsters, and testament to the power of love to genuinely turn despair into triumph.At the heart of Merry’s emotion-packed memoir are

two youngsters, abandoned by their entire family, who found much-needed love and stability with Trisha and her husband Mike for ten years only to be reclaimed by their birth mother and then cruelly cast off again.

But this is also an account of the many other children who, for one reason or other, have had to be placed into the care of foster parents. Whether their stay with the Merry family was short or long, they learned what family love and sharing is really all about.

Trisha, who gave up her office job to be a childminder and then a foster mother, already had a houseful of children under five when one hot summer’s afternoon, two abandoned siblings, Daisy, aged two, and Paul, aged one, were placed into her care.

They were forlorn and afraid. Their mother, who neither can even remember, walked out on them, their grandmother tried to look after them but couldn’t manage and their young father had given up on them too.

These cast-off children desperately needed somewhere to live and a family to love them, and they had come to the right place. Trisha and Mike welcomed them into their home and their hearts even though they now had ten children under five in the house.

Every day in the chaotic but happy Merry household was filled with cuddles, fun, occasional tears… and more than a few challenges whether that was dealing with angry neighbours’ complaints or coping with the sudden death of a child.

Daisy and Paul settled well into their new rough-and-tumble life but after ten eventful years of love and laughter, they were reclaimed by their jealous mother, a stranger to them. She set fire to their memories and sent them to a succession of care homes until Paul finally set out to find the only two people who had ever loved him…

Merry, who lives with her husband Mike, her youngest adopted daughter and son, four rescue dogs and two rescue cats, still hopes that one day they will find Daisy again too and make their family complete.

A heartwarming and emotional story from an extraordinary woman.

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)