Accidental angel

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And working itself has become problematic. "I need to sell houses to make a living," Koop says. But going to work regularly has proven nearly impossible. Matthew attends school now but the little one stays with her and she cannot drag a toddler out to show houses.

Koop has asked CPS for some kind of allowance to help defray daycare costs. She has not heard back from the agency about what they can do. Texas Department of Human Services spokeswoman Edwards says although she was not familiar with the specific case, it would be unlikely that Koop could receive such benefits until she formally took on the role as a foster parent, a process that can take three months or longer.

Koop has heard occasionally from the boys' mother, who has telephoned drunk and sober. She has short conversations with the boys. Koop says she has talked to her about giving the boys up for adoption and foster care and the mother has seemed open about the prospect.

For her part, Koop has begun exploring the idea of becoming a foster parent--anything to keep the boys from returning to the county shelter for kids, where they have been before, and, they have told her, they were separated.

"Was I planning on having kids?" Koop says. "No."
But, as the boys pile on top of her, it's obvious that her plans have been radically altered.

"Roderick follows me everywhere," Koop says. "He doesn't even like it if I take a shower. He pounds on the door."

If Koop were approved as a foster parent, she could receive up to $450 a month reimbursement from the state for each child. But she would first have to pass a 10- to 12-week training course, participate in extensive home studies and, she is afraid, risk losing the boys temporarily--a fear that spokeswoman Edwards says is justified.

"We just never really dealt with something like this before," Edwards says. "I'm not sure how it would be handled.

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Miriam Rozen
Contact: Miriam Rozen