Every day is Mother’s Day for me. I consider myself to be the luckiest woman in the world, just to say that. As some of you know, and now the rest of you, I didn’t become a mother in the conventional sense of the word. But. Does it really matter? I may have adopted. I may have first viewed my child when she was 8 years old, as a foster child. It does not mean that I didn’t go through labor pains. It sure doesn’t.
Anybody who has fostered knows what I am talking about. First, you have to be assessed for a criminal background. That pack of gum I took at age 6 might just show up on my record. Well, whew for that one. I call statute of limitations on that experience. You have to be fingerprinted and wait…wait…wait… Then you do classes. Now, this is where I tend to get preachy. If you ever, ever, ever are thinking of parenting, then take a foster parent class. I can guarantee that you will find this to be just as applicable to raising your own natural born children. The scenarios vary and are very adaptable. You get questions such as: What would you do if your child wanted to run away from home? How do you feel about thumb sucking? What are your plans for meals? Do you plan to serve your children the same things you eat, why or why not? Get the picture? When taking the classes, I often asked myself what my parents would have given for answers. How I was raised, I saw no real issues with. I turned out well. If I had answered some of the questions with the way I was raised, well, I may not be a parent today. See how that works. It’s a catch and you have to be aware of these things.
What I do not know is if you have to do these classes if you do a private adoption. I have heard that you have to be assessed but I really have not done the research about how all of that works. My expertise has always been with the foster care to adoption system via the state system. I graduated with an emphasis of experience in child welfare. My interests have always been in public vs private. Not to knock those who choose going private. I can think of a million and one reasons why I would think that would be preferred. Just like, I have a million and one reasons why I went the route I did. No judgment.
As an aside…if you didn’t know this…did you know I did my practicum at an adoption agency in New York? It was a great experience. Here I was a Midwesterner from a very small Mississippi River town who spent this period in NYC and worked out of Little Neck NY. I was exposed to much more than I expected and greatly enriched my knowledge about adoption, high risk adoptions, how kids are matched with parents, what prejudices people deal with, cultural influences, socioeconomic challenges, and more. I did learn that my heart could break for birth parents, that I have compassion for all people involved in the adoption spectrum, that if I had the powers in me that all adoptions would be open adoptions, and more…so much more. None of this had anything to do with big city life vs small city life. Problems are problems are problems. Each area has some kind of somethings to deal with.
Back to my initial story… There was a long wait from inception of the idea to foster to the day when my daughter and I met. We met at an ice cream shop in a little town about 30 minutes from where we lived. We were to meet, see how it felt to each of us and if all went well, I would take her home for the weekend. We did that. We went home. Well, on the way home this beautiful brown eyed doll asked me if she could call me “mommy.” Now, think about the TV show about What would you do? I covered this is in my poem from my chapbook:
Call Me Mommy
You asked me,
Your 8-year-old self,
May I call you ''mommy?''
I lost it.
So, you can kind of get an idea where that ended.
From the time I met my daughter, I just knew she was not going to be fostered long term. I already adopted her in my heart. When she came to live with us, I knew, just knew that it would be forever. Right before Christmas, at a special arrangement with the court house and many thanks to my attorney, we were able to grant our daughter the one wish she had for Christmas. She wanted to take our last name. The following spring, around this same time of year, she was baptized. That was another of her wishes. And we had a huge adoption party for her. It was like all of those Christmases and birthdays that were missed over all the years, all in one.
Later in life, we learned we could help her search for one family member of her choice via the adoption search service offered by the state of adoption. She chose to find her brother. Funny thing about that is that he was found in the state of NC and we were in IA are the time, only after living in NC for a number of years. We eventually moved back to NC and they met. Along with her brother, she found out he had children and my daughter became an instant aunt. Since that time, she has found all but two siblings and more extended family, largely in the Facebook scene and thanks to the brother that she found. He had discovered where people were. I feel such joy for her that she found her blood family. But the one thing that stands strongly intact is the bond that she and I have a mother and child. There is nothing that will change that.
I have my daughters consent to talk about these things and she loves to hear the story about when we met. She loves that it is in poetic form. But the greatest lyrics are those that are in our hearts. Those you cannot put to a tune but can only feel within your soul. My soul connects to my daughter in an unexplainable way and that is why I believe that we take our families into our hearts and souls and make them ours in that very way.
There’s another story to be told about motherhood, but that is in another upcoming post. Just know this. If you have it in your heart and soul to allow another person in to your life, considering fostering and maybe even adoption is not a bad way to go.