D. C. Lang is the biological child of parents who made a four-decades-long career of fostering at-risk children. Her perspective as “a natural” is a unique one, with the potential to illuminate a lifestyle few of us know about. Before that information can be effective, though, issues of organization, purpose and editing need attention.
Lang, responsibly, feels obligated to keep private much of the information about the children who shared their family’s home. But rather than changing identifying details or creating composite characters, she simply makes allusions to horrible events and leaves readers to fill in the blanks. This includes both abuse that led these children to their placement and the physical and sexual abuse Lang and her brothers suffered at the hands of some of the older children living with them. There’s no need for lurid details, but without some information, it’s hard to understand when she swivels back and forth, saying fostering was both the greatest and worst experience of her life.
As Lang’s father became ill and the family’s finances ran out, they moved to a run-down plot of land but continued to take in children. Inspectors determined the residence wasn’t safe and denied them the right to take in more kids, a blow her mother took especially hard. This leads to several pages of ax-grinding and claims that the family was “black listed.” Again, it’s a sad scenario, but readers aren’t given enough basic data to agree, disagree, or empathize with the family.
A Natural has elements of memoir and expose and could have also served as a guidebook had it given readers a better sense of a typical day in a foster home. The lack of focus generally leaves readers with more questions than answers. While Lang’s book has great potential to raise awareness of many foster parenting issues, first the author must decide on her purpose and rewrite with a single end result in mind.