- An Almost Empty Nest
- By ERIN McCANN
- The 61st Missouri Photo Workshop / Festus & Crystal City, Mo.
At an age when most of her peers are slowing down, enjoying their free time or relaxing with friends, 77-year-old Betty Hayes is leading a different sort of life.
Half a century after she took in her first foster child, Betty is raising an adopted teenage daughter. Seventeen-year-old Bethany is the last in a series of nearly two dozen children—both adopted and foster—to spend time in Betty's care.
Despite their 60-year age difference, the pair have made a life together. They've begun to repair the damage from Bethany's tumultuous early teenage years and settled into a comfortable but still occasionally tense routine.
Some day soon, Bethany will grow up and move away from home, leaving Betty alone again for the first time in five decades.
At 17, Bethany has no interest in learning to drive. Betty collects her from work every afternoon and shuttles her to places such as a Wednesday evening church youth gathering. She also steps in when Bethany oversleeps and misses the school bus, which happens two or three times a week. "I think she knows I'll take her," Betty said.
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