- No Place Like Home – Bunty: #1721 (05 January 1991) – #1731 (16 March 1991)
- Reprinted: Bunty #2127 (17 October 1998) – #2137 (26 December 1998)
- Art: Eduardo Feito
Josie Small had been fostered by the Keegans for most of her life, and Megan Keegan, who was the same age as her, was was her best friend. So she is surprised when the posh Farmers arrive and want to adopt her. It is agreed that for a trial period she will live with them, to see how they get on, but Josie is sure she will be back with the Keegans at the end of it. The Farmers are certainly generous people, they take Josie on a shopping trip and pamper her, at their house she has a big room with whatever she needs. Still even after a week of being with the Farmers, she feels like they are being polite strangers rather than family. This is more apparent on an exam day where Josie misses Mum Keegan’s customary hugs. That day after the exam, she goes home with Megan and forgets to ring Mrs Farmer, who is upset at Mum Keegan for this. When Josie explains to Mrs Farmer that she wanted to use their encyclopedias for history assignment, the Farmers buy her a whole set and make a study for her.
Josie would much prefer the Farmer’s affection than material things, but the Farmers keep buying her things. This causes Megan and Josie have a falling out, because Megan thinks Josie is taking advantage of the Farmers as Josie said she hadn’t intentions of staying with them. In the heat of the moment Josie says she will stay with her new family. She regrets this and after few days she goes around to make up. She gets a surprise when she finds another foster girl there. Megan doesn’t let her know it’s a temporary situation and a spiteful classmate, Susie, stirs up more trouble questioning why the Keegan’s never wanted to adopt her. Back at her new home she overhears a conversation making Josie think the Farmers only want her because its good for Mr Farmer’s career. Feeling unwanted by both families, she decides she needs to just look out for herself.
When she agrees to be adopted, the Farmers throw a party, to celebrate, when they mention inviting Mr Farmer’s boss, for Josie it’s further proof of their priorities. Josie throws a tantrum when Mrs Farmer takes her shopping, to get a more glitzy dress and other things, but of course it doesn’t make her feel better. At the party, Josie does hit it off with the boss’s daughter Melanie, but soon she finds out about her selfish and manipulative ways. After Mum Keegan drops a gift around to wish her luck, Josie starts having doubts about the adoption. When she goes to talk to the Farmers about these doubts, they say that the adoption was able to be put through quicker than normal and they’ll explain how one day. Josie thinks like everything else they used money to speed things up.
She tries pushing boundaries but only seems to do herself more harm instead (too many late nights, lots of chocolate etc). She feels isolated and alone, so is happy when Megan seems to be willing to make amends and invites Josie to her birthday party. Things go well at first, but she does not realise that Mrs Farmer slipped money into the pencil box that she bought Megan as a present. Megan feels insulted, thinking Josie is showing off but doesn’t want to make a scene at the party. Not knowing what went wrong, Josie is so desperate for a friend she invites Susie over. When that doesn’t work out because Susie is jealous of what Josie has, she is convinced by Melanie to go to a concert with her. Then Melanie abandons her and Josie feels scared but has no way home. Luckily Megan knows where she has gone and let slip to Mum Keegan. Mr Farmer picks Josie up after a policewoman had found her.
The Keegans and Mrs Farmer are waiting back at the house and Mrs Farmer collapses from the strain of it all. It’s only after this that many revelations come out, Josie snaps at Keegan’s saying they don’t have to stay, because if they cared about her they would have adopted her. Then Mum Keegan reveals she couldn’t adopt her, because she had taken her in for friends until they could return. It turns the Farmers are actually Josie’s biological parents! Not long after Josie was born Mr Small went to jail for fraud, it was too much for Mrs Small who collapsed and didn’t feel well enough to care for Josie. When Mr Small got out of jail, they changed their name to Farmer and went abroad to build a new life for Josie to be proud of. Mr Farmer apologises to Josie for taking much longer than they thought and hopes she will be able to learn to love them. Josie needs time to think and Megan goes to talk to her. With everything out in the open, Megan apologises as she didn’t know how mixed up Josie was feeling, they make up and promise to remain sisters even if they are different homes. With Megan’s support, Josie goes to see her mother. More apologies ensue as Mrs Farmer says they genuinely thought Melanie would be a good friend but from now on they will let her choose her own friends. They all agree to start over and Josie feels lucky to have two families that love her.
This story draws some comparisons to the previous post. Both are family dramas with revelations about biological parents, girls moving to homes with a different socioeconomic backgrounds then they are used to and misunderstandings causing problems and loneliness. Like Margo, Josie has our sympathy and shows that even when she acts out, she is good person at heart. There are several times that she says she will just look out for herself and she doesn’t care about any one else, but she finds its not that easy to change. Such as whenever she gets hope that maybe her parents want her for herself, she is automatically willing to give things another chance, but then that is ruined when she interprets the Farmers actions as just caring about career and money.
When it turns out the Farmers do want her and are actually her biological parents, that optimism must still be there as despite a slight hesitation she does accept them quite quickly after that. I think the Smalls/Farmers are forgiven a bit too easily, whereas in Misfit Margo, the Taylor’s reasons for giving up Margo and their actions afterwards make them likeable characters, the Farmers are harder to warm up to. Their reasons for giving Josie up at first are reasonable, with Mr Farmer being in prison/penniless and Mrs Farmer having a weak disposition they weren’t able to care for Josie. What makes less sense is that in going away to build up a good life for Josie they seemed to overshoot what they actually needed. They could have returned earlier with a more modest wealth, or they could have gotten in contact with her sooner and kept in touch with her. Their priorities are wrong, believing money is what their daughter wants/needs instead of affection and boundaries (with Mr Farmer’s crime being fraud it may indicate that wealth/status has always been important to them). Their treatment of the Keegans is not great either, they are wanting Josie to forget about them and Mrs Farmer is not looking for any advice from Mum Keegan, not a great way to treat people who were supposedly friends. It can come across as snobbish, but also as another weakness of the Farmer’s just wanting to brush away their shame, not having any reminders of the past. I do wonder when they planned to tell Josie the truth about everything! It is good to see they are wanting to change in the end but they have a lot of work to do.
The Keegan’s aren’t all innocent either, they are quite harsh on Josie at times, even if some of it is because of misconception. Megan has the excuse of being young but Mum Keegan should know better. Considering how Mrs Farmer is treating Mum Keegan, you’d think she might be wary of how things are going for Josie, even if she didn’t want to interfere. Also being a foster mother she should have more understanding how disruptive it can be for a child to change homes. So her blaming Josie for everything seems too hard “From the look of you, you’ve made a real mess of things since the Farmers adopted you”. The ending has things tied up a bit too quickly for my liking but I think Josie and Megan’s reconciliation was done well and it is nice to see everyone apologise and want to start fresh.