A Forever Family

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers. He is hers in a way that he will never be mine. And together we are motherhood.” – Desha Wood

“To adopt means to “legally take another’s child and bring it up as one’s own.” (Webster’s dictionary)

My husband and I took Kiddo’s hand and headed to the court room. So much had led up to this adoption day. For weeks I had toggled back and forth about whether becoming a forever family was in the best interest of all involved.

Was I making the right choice? Would the love I could offer this kiddo as ‘mother’ be enough?

“It feels like I should be loving this child more than I am,” I said to my mother just days before. My mom lovingly reassured me my child needs me, and the love I feel would keep growing over time.”

On many levels she was right. I had already turned to two other mom friends for advice. One helped me understand that most new mothers have a chance to bond with their baby for 9 months while in utero, then deliver a baby filled with love that is pure and absolute.

Another reassured me that my kiddo’s need to hate and fight at times was much like a feral animal filled with terror. The bruises on my skin and in my heart would eventually go away.

Yet despite all these wise words, I still found myself grappling with uncertainty right up to the night before our trial date.

Pouring my heart out to other foster/adoptive parents I asked,
“How do you know you are ready to adopt? I keep questioning if the love I can offer is enough.”

The outpouring of love and support I received was immense:

“It took me longer to bond with my child then the other two we adopted for many reasons but I now love him, delight in his strengths, accomplishments, his love for others, his relationship with each member of our family . . . (the list went on and on)”

“Love is a choice. I have spent many a day praying for God to help me. Hang in there. This is a calling not just a romance.”

“All my children have come to us through adoption (none through birth) and all at different emotional and developmental stages. Each bond has been unique, coming in its own time, no right or wrong, just uniquely. Some felt fast and others took much longer. Who says our love and bond has to be instant? Thank you so much for sharing your heart.”

“Doubt is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Love can move mountains. It’s just such a slow process when you have trauma, abuse or attachment issues. Praying for your strength and clarity.”

Now here I was just moments from being sworn in and still a little doubt remained.

God must have known it too, because as soon as we walked into the courthouse waiting room, our caseworker pointed us back outside.

“We have a big problem,” she said. “Kiddo’s birth mom is here.”

A flood of emotions filled my heart. Were we in danger? How come she missed the termination hearing? Was she here to take back custody?

Silently I said a prayer. “Dear God, though it may break me, if it is in the best interest of our child to stay with the birth mom, I promise to be strong and let go.”

Several long minutes later, law enforcement asked the birth mom to leave. It was then I knew I had a choice: either ignore this woman as she passed us on the sidewalk, or offer her compassion and closure with a loving heart.

“You are kiddo’s birth mom, correct?” I asked as she neared.

She nodded with tears in her eyes.

“May I hug you?” I asked.

With her permission I held her, then genuinely thanked her for giving Kiddo birth.

I then watched her weep in gratitude before saying goodbye to her baby one last time.

As we approached the court room, our caseworker shared that the mom showed up to make sure her child was happy and would be going to a good home.

Every ounce of my being then knew with certainty that I am safe to love my DAUGHTER now and forever, and to call her my own.

ETE

‘Moms’ The Word

“Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.” ~ Iain Thomas

It’s been nearly 6 months since Kiddo walked into our world. Never could I imagine that such a little soul could change my whole life in such a short amount of time.

In all honestly “them” has been both a blessing and a pain in the you know what depending on the day, and from what other moms have told me this is pretty typical.

Add in past triggers such as trauma, abandonment, negligence, and abuse, and this might explain why Kiddo has been acting out in such dramatic ways.

Numerous times in the last few weeks I have been kicked, hit, and spit on whenever things do not go “them’s” way.

“Given all this little one has been through I am not at all surprised,” the child psychologist recently said. “Kiddo is finally feeling safe, so consider these behaviors a huge compliment.”

Hm. Okay. Maybe after I get past my surprise of how hard a little kid can hit, and then beyond my shame and guilt for having to hold “them” in a restraint for several minutes so we can both stay safe and until “them” is calm enough to receive love and reconnect.

Even though the fostering classes warned us that kiddos with special needs can be a challenge, until I actually experienced it, I had no idea how trying it could be.

Yes, the honeymoon is over so-to-speak, and now “the shit is getting real”: two to three doctors appointments per week; night terrors; temper tantrums; and lack of sleep – all are taking its toll.

“Have you considered giving “them” back to the state?” – This is a question that has come up more than once from some other moms who are close family and friends.

“Oh, Yea,” I honestly reply. “On more than one occasion.”

I then laugh to release my stress and say “but I just can’t. I committed to do this, and besides, Kiddo has been through much too much for me to walk away.”

The other person then usually replies, “You are such a gift to this child,” or “You sure are a good mom.” or “I don’t know if I could ever do it.”

Then at some point in the conversation someone asks, “How much help are you getting from others?’

I again laugh for release. “When you are a foster parent you are expected to stay home and watch the child, so other than some half days of daycare to shop or work with a client, not much at all.”

I then get asked, “Is your husband Steve around to help?”

“As much as he can muster,” I reply. “Right now he’s going through a training program for his job so Kiddo and I get to spend about 10-15 hours a week with him on average which isn’t as much as any of us would like.”

Recently a mom friend reminded me how important it is to have others who can relate. “Michelle,” she said, “if I were in your situation I would want someone to ask me if I have had time to grieve my old life and process all the new changes. So have you?”

No sooner than she finished, my eyes started welling up with tears.

I knew this was my clue to start asking for some help. And so I began with my mom friend who was kind enough to listen when I began to unload. She then opened her own backpack to share some of her personal fears, vulnerabilities, and experiences.

This really helped a lot. Not only because I appreciated the adult conversation but because it felt good knowing I wasn’t the only one who worries they’re messing their kids up or wonders if their parenting techniques are any good.

As the days went by I began asking for more help from other moms who then came forward with their own backpacks and experiences and vulnerabilities. Together we dumped, unloaded, and sorted things out.

Since then I have come to appreciate why it is said being a mom is the hardest yet most important job one can ever do.

Thank you Mom Club (Regina, Bonnie, Kellie, Gayle, Naomi, Lindy and many more) for helping me lighten my load.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)