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Domestic CP - December 2003

Corpun file 12495

Austin American Statesman, Austin, Texas, 24 December 2003

Christmas came early for adopted child

9-year-old wished for -- and got -- a spanking

By Gary Susswein
American-Statesman Staff

DRIPPING SPRINGS -- No matter what's waiting under the Christmas tree, 9-year-old Josef Lowrey's best gift of the year already arrived nearly three months ago.

It came when his adoptive mother gave him a swat on the behind for the first time.

Josef had been a foster child most of his life. The state frowns on corporal punishment in foster homes, so when he got in trouble, his foster mom, Jane Lowrey, sent him to his room.

"He hates being in timeout," she said. "He hates being separated from the family."

The state's budget crisis delayed Josef's adoption from August to October. But when it finally came, he knew what he wanted.

Like his four siblings, whom Lowrey adopted last year, Josef could finally get a swat. He finally felt like a full member of the family. He knew this would be his home forever.

Lowrey, a 56-year-old grandmother, became a foster parent through a Christian agency nearly a decade ago. A few years ago, she took in the five siblings (now ages 3 to 12) who were born to a cocaine-addicted mother.

Lowrey turned her back porch into a roller rink, her master bedroom into a bunkhouse and her kitchen table into a classroom.

Last year, she adopted Nathan, Casey, Heather and Megan. But it was harder to adopt Josef, a sweet but rambunctious 9-year-old, because he has had behavioral problems and had lived in group homes.

Then last summer, the state ran out of money to pay private agencies to facilitate adoptions. It had to renegotiate 433 adoption agreements across the state. In some cases, the agencies footed the bills so the adoptions could move forward. In other cases, they were delayed.

Josef's adoption was almost delayed again in October because of missing paperwork. But everything was worked out before the family showed up in court in San Marcos on a warm Friday morning.

Josef, with a curly mop of black hair and a goofy smile on his face, was so giddy that he hid under a table until the judge asked him to come out. Then he clutched his foster mother until the judge finally told him she was his real mother.

As Josef ate raspberry and poppy-seed cake in the judge's chambers a few minutes later, he announced that he wanted to get a spanking and to jump on the family's trampoline (also forbidden for foster children).

Within a few days, both wishes had been granted. And Josef learned he should be careful what he wishes for.

"Josef has discovered since the adoption that he really doesn't like to be spanked," Jane Lowrey said. "He's taking me a little more seriously now."

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