RISK! Podcast
  • Episode:#1152
  • Date:September 21, 2020
  • Run Time:1:08:36
  • Download: MP3


Henry McMillan, Laura Ford and Sheila Arnold share stories about penile problems, foster parenting, and Black history.

Song: RISK! Theme by Wormburner and John Sondericker

Song: Tondo by Disclosure & Eko Roosevelt

Live Story: Snip Snip by Henry McMillan

Interstitial: The Cinch and the Swell by Taj Easton

Radio Story: Heartbreak by Laura Ford

Song: Suit of Armour by Danika Smith

Livestream Story: Taming the Fire by Sheila Arnold

Song: Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder


  1. Heartbroken after listening to Laura Ford’s story. Can’t help but think how Manny and Jay must have felt when social workers picked them up and told them they will never see their ‘new’ parents again. Why is it not better to meet them and have a talk and give them closure? I can’t stop crying thinking of these poor boys

  2. I loved all the stories, as per usual. And Sheila, your story was so wonderful! God bless Ms. Elliot!!!

  3. It was troubling to hear the story titled ‘Heartbreak’ by Laura Ford. As an adopted person, I felt that Ford never acknowledges the trauma that the children she is attempting to adopt have suffered and that the behavior of the older boy could have been remedied through therapy or other community support. She is constantly focused on her own feelings and needs. So often, adopted/fostered kids get a bad rap for being ‘troubled.’ Ford furthers this narrative with the unfounded accusation that a ten-year-old boy is making her feel unsafe in her own home. Being adopted or fostered is a traumatic experience in and of itself, one in which society constantly says ‘you are different – how you came into your family wasn’t ideal.’ For example, when someone finds out that I am adopted their first question is “Have you met your real parents?” I don’t think they realize how insulting this is to me and to my adopted parents who are my real parents. I feel so sad for these two boys and so frustrated by the narrator’s selfish actions and assumptions. I have a lot of feelings about this story but something that really disturbed me was when Ford states at the end that one of her requirements for adoption had something to do with no property damage. When will we, as a society and culture, realize that property is not more important than human life. The older boy was acting out because of the very real trauma that he had gone through in the foster system – something Ford clearly couldn’t relate to and did not even acknowledge when telling this story.

  4. Hey folks. The episode called READJUSTING has been revised and can now be re-downloaded or re-streamed in its new, expanded form.

    It includes a follow-up to the story Heartbreak by Laura Ford. Myself and RISK! story coach Cyndi Freeman had a conversation with Laura in which we reflected back on the story. Laura gave us some further context. And we discussed some of the issues that came up in listeners’ reactions to the story.

    You can find this new material in the episode at the 50 minutes and 42 seconds spot in the episode. — Kevin

  5. I can’t pretend to know what it feels like to walk in these shoes so I am genuinely trying to reserve judgement, however as a person who survived a traumatic childhood it is heartbreaking that these boys had to go through yet another rejection. I work with developmentally disabled children now and some of my most difficult cases are the ones that every other therapist gives up on. They will test you to your core, and I really do understand not being able to stomach it. I guess where I am confused is where the storyteller thought they would get these two boys that had been in the system for such an amount of time and have an expectation of them NOT having issues. I hope the social worker that is placing the boys learns to be upfront with potential fosters and waits to find the “right family” for these two boys.

  6. Laura is an amazing story teller. The ups, the downs conveyed evoked many emotions.

  7. My wife and I just finished listening to Laura’s story. What a beautifully vulnerable story. Wonderfully told. Thank you for sharing your truth, even when it must have been scary/painful to do so. This is why I love Risk.

  8. I can not help but feel extreme judgement toward Laura Ford. As a survivor of childhood trauma, as the mother of a behaviorally challenged autistic son, I am nothing short of disgusted. When you commit to adopting a human being, you commit to major baggage. You don’t give up, you love harder. If you don’t have the capacity to do that, you don’t deserve the privilege of letting a child into your life. Those poor boys didn’t deserve that, and she doesn’t deserve a platform.

  9. I applaud Laura Ford for her bravery in sharing her story.

  10. Laura, don’t pay any attention to the people here who attempt to “judge” or blame you. The system failed these children, the biological parents failed these children and society failed these children. Anyone who wants to look for blame should look in the mirror rather than type from their armchair. The shame here is that Jay missed an opportunity for a loving home and was given no choice in the matter. The older boy was damaged to such an extent that he probably should have been institutionalized or placed with a mental health specialist. Jay should not have been left with him because chances are the older boy, unless he has very serious and sustained mental health treatment, will likely ruin the opportunities for the younger boy. The State attempted to take advantage of your loving nature. They failed to be honest with you. I am aware of many other stories where the State leaves information out in their desperate attempts to place damaged children.

  11. To respond to previous poster named Deborah: who do you think you are? Who are you to say the older boy needed to be institutionalised..what a frightening moronic and plain stupid comment. You don’t even know him!

    You got one thing right, the boys were indeed failed by system, their bio parent and society ..but Laura also deeply failed them. Its clear (after listening to the episode) that Laura had zero business attempting to adopt in the first place.

  12. My comment was taken down in which I raised concerns about a commenter who suggests that a child whom she has never met and knows nothing about should be institutionisalised! Very disappointing Risk. If anything that that inflammatory and ignorant comment should be taken down.

    Regarding the episode itself, I have never commented on anything in my life in terms of podcasts, social media ETC as who is anyone to judge. That being said, I found the episode thoroughly depressing and my heart goes out to those 2 boys (episode readjusting by Laura). I actually listened to it months ago but I often think of it as I was left feeling saddened deeply for those boys. Anyway l will leave it there. Comment will probably be deleted again neverthless much love from Dublin, Ireland.

  13. Okay. Some days I just give up.

    We removed the episode from the Internet. Then we recorded an interview with Laura wherein she reacted to people calling her names and casting aspersions. She expressed how she very, very clearly heard those things, how she understood the upset, how she wanted to answer questions that she felt were good ones and wanted to clarify, for the umpteenth time, that her story is, as she said in the original cut, not intended to cast herself as a hero or a victim, but as someone who made a mistake, and was in over her head. She explained that although she was hurt by the level of vitriol of some of the commentary, she could not blame anyone for feeling those understandable feelings. She explained that no one could beat herself up about this more than she already has of herself.

    We inserted that interview at the end of Laura’s story and re-uploaded the episode, so that anyone who downloaded the episode after the first 14 or so days it was out got to hear the interview also. We explained to everyone that the vast majority of this conversation is happening on three or four threads at the RISK! Podcast Fans Discussion Group on Facebook.

    We removed some comments here if they seemed especially in the “name calling” sort of realm. We called out several on the Facebook threads which we felt were worded in a way that we would not call compassionate, especially considering that everyone who comments on a story like this has got to realize their comment will be seen by the storyteller.

    Meanwhile, we continue to receive private messages from people who are traumatized that they attempted foster adoption and failed at it, from people who successfully attempted foster adoption and succeeded at it but watched close loved ones do the same and fail, from social workers who have seen really good people fail at it despite all kinds of re-doubling of efforts, and from people who were foster adoptees who saw good people make mistakes along the way in their journeys as well. There’s been much more of an outpouring in private to us of people basically saying, I know some folks have the pitchforks out about this… but I have personal experience related to it all and I understand why it’s helpful for someone to share about feeling they made a mistake.

    And, of course, there’s the speech I have to give over and over and over and over again. On the podcast and in these forums. The podcast is not a prescription for how to live. The job of this podcast is not to tell you what to do and how to think. We do not endorse or promote all the choices and actions taken by narrator’s of stories on this show. We do not aim to make the audience feel comfortable about all of the life experiences shared here and we do not aim to avoid having audience members feel mixed feelings about stories or storytellers. We are always encouraging storytellers to tell about a time they were “the bad guy.” So people often come on the show to share about messes they made or regrets they have or things that happened in their lives that they themselves continue to have mixed feelings about.

    So yeah, shame on me, etc etc etc.
    – Kevin

  14. [Heartbreak] Laura: I was touched by your story and and saddened by the reaction to it. You should not be too affected by those reactions: first of all, internet forums create great selective pressure to hear from those who are the most upset. Those who are not aren’t usually motivated, even if they had a positive reaction. I, for one, empathize with you and your situation a lot, but am still only motivated to write this because I heard about the negative reaction.

    But more important than accepting the criticism of others, I hope more you accept yourself. You are the critic that matters. It sounds like you are a harsh one. Overall, you were in a horrible situation, with tough implications for other beings, not matter what your choice. You cared a lot about those other beings and yourself. You made the best choice you could.

    Thats all a good person can ever do.

    That, and make peace with themselves for doing it.

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