When we discuss family love, we refer to biological families by default. But what about foster family relationships? What does it take for them to succeed, and who suffers the most when they fail? On today’s show, we welcome Regina Calcaterra, the co-author of Girl Unbroken and the memoir Etched in Sand. Regina shares how the bond between her four siblings–born of separate fathers and the same mentally ill mother–lasted through years of abuse, displacement, and movement into and out of the foster care system, to where they share healthy lives and relationships as adults.
And before we get to that, we discuss Ben’s impending move to Portland, Oregon, for a stint in Portland Center Stage’s world premiere of Astoria. How do he and his gf plan to weather the storm? How does Jax plan to run the show in his absence? What can listeners expect as we transition out of being a dating show and into becoming a relationship show? And what do we really want out of our lives between now and Ben’s return?
About Regina Calcaterra, Esq.
Regina is the co-author of Girl Unbroken, A Sister’s Harrowing Story of Survival from the Streets of Long Island to the Farms of Idaho, which she co-wrote with her sister Rosie Maloney, and is the author of her New York Times Best Selling memoir Etched in Sand, A True Story of Five Siblings Who Survived an Unspeakable Childhood on Long Island. For the past twenty-eight years Regina has spent her policy, managerial and legal career in both the private and public sector. She is now practicing law as a partner in the New York office of Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freeman & Herz, LLP where her practice areas include securities litigation, federal civil rights, white collar defense and government and corporate investigations.
She proudly serves as second vice-chair to the Foundation Board of the State University of New York at New Paltz (SUNY New Paltz), as an Ambassador to Library for All which addresses global literacy by developing digital libraries for children in third-world countries and on the Advisory Committee of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She formerly served as long-time board member to You Gotta Believe, an organization that works towards finding older foster children forever homes and remains committed to You Gotta Believe’s mission. She speaks nationally on resilience and the plight of foster children, childhood poverty and how we all can positively impact a child in need.
Regina has been the recipient of several honors and awards including receiving a lifetime achievement award issued jointly by the Primi-Dieci Society and the Italy-American Chamber of Commerce and from The Children of Bellevue for serving as a role model for foster children, and receiving the Speak Out for a Child Award from CASA-NYC and the Maxine Postal Humanitarian Award, the East End Women’s Network Woman of the Year Award and the Geraldine Ferraro Award of Courage.
She is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and Seton Hall University School of Law and is admitted to practice law in the State of New York, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Eastern, Southern and Northern US District Courts in New York.
A GLIMPSE INTO ETCHED IN SAND
The middle of five children, Regina, and her siblings, Cherie, Camille, Norman and Rosie were born to the same mentally ill mother but all different fathers. Their mother’s mental illness, and fathers’ abandonment, contributed to the families instability. They would constantly move quickly shifting from houses and apartments to trailers, homeless shelters, cars and the streets. Regardless of where they lived, the older siblings would work to make each place they lived a home for the younger siblings.
As the older girls grew they began transitioning out of the unstable living situation and by the age of twelve, Regina was left with caring for her younger siblings. Through Regina’s experiences Etched in Sand chronicles how the siblings lived on the fringe of society as they struggled to survive. All the while avoiding the authorities by keeping a pact that it was better to stay together on their own then be separated and again placed at the hands of complete strangers.
After a brutal beating so severe it could not be hidden, a social worker made Regina, not yet fourteen, a promise: tell the truth for the first time about how they have been living in exchange for a guarantee that the system would protect them. But to do so, Regina would be breaking the pact. In a weakened moment she made a decision that she would forever regret.
Through Etched in Sand Regina shares the scrappy survival instincts, mishaps, adventures and unbreakable bonds of a group of voiceless parentless siblings.
A GLIMPSE INTO GIRL UNBROKEN
By Regina Calcaterra & Rosie Maloney
In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller Etched in Sand, Regina Calcaterra pairs with her youngest sister Rosie to tell Rosie’s harrowing, yet ultimately triumphant, story of childhood abuse and survival.
They were five kids with five different fathers and an alcoholic mother who left them to fend for themselves for weeks at a time. Yet through it all they had each other. Rosie, the youngest, is fawned over and shielded by her older sister, Regina. Their mother, Cookie, blows in and out of their lives “like a hurricane, blind and uncaring to everything in her path.”
But when Regina discloses the truth about her abusive mother to her social worker, she is separated from her younger siblings Norman and Rosie. And as Rosie discovers after Cookie kidnaps her from foster care, the one thing worse than being abandoned by her mother is living in Cookie’s presence. Beaten physically, abused emotionally, and forced to labor at the farm where Cookie settles in Idaho, Rosie refuses to give in. Like her sister Regina, Rosie has an unfathomable strength in the face of unimaginable hardship—enough to propel her out of Idaho and out of a nightmare.
Filled with maturity and grace, Rosie’s memoir continues the compelling story begun in Etched in Sand—a shocking yet profoundly moving testament to sisterhood and indomitable courage.