There are defining moments in ones life. The moments that you look back on and realize that you are no longer who you were before, you may not even remember that person. I have been blessed enough to have a few defining moments ... ones that I am surprised that I lived through but grateful for what it helped me become.
12 years ago I made the ultimate and final decision to become a foster mom. I had known that I was going to adopt and foster, probably since I was a teenager. I had grand daydreams of huge family dinners with all the foster littles that I had, birth families and their children. I knew that was my calling, there was no question about it. The day I received the letter in the mail approving me to be a foster mom, was one such defining moment. I was wide eyed and ready, not really knowing what was in store for me but knowing it was in my heart. Pulling the letter out that said I was approved and ready is a moment that I hope to never forget. When the days get hard, I try to look back on and remember that wide eyed girl that was ready to take on the foster care world ... not the jaded one that I have become in moments.
I’ve held children crying because they don't understand what's going on. I have rocked, swaddled, walked with and bounced babies suffering from drug withdrawal. I've picked up, or accepted the drop off, of children on a moments notice because they needed a safe home for the evening, the weekend or longer. I’ve sat in court and listen to reasons that children are in the foster care system. I've sat with women birth moms praying that the judge will see their hard work, I have mentored and loved on families that simply can do no better.
Listening to the sounds of a crying 2 year old begging me not to leave her after a pre-placement visit. Knowing that this little girl would be MY daughter but not knowing how to navigate this system. Seeing a toddler not know who her mom is or where she fits. Watching that same girl grow into a teenager that still isn’t quite sure. Being her mom for the past 11 years has shown us growth and change but also shown us the pain in trauma … especially the trauma they don’t remember or understand.
A bouncing, energetic and loving 6 year old walking through the door. He shook our hands, smiled with his bowl cut and ill fitting clothes. He walked around our house and ran around outside. He wanted to be part of a family desperately... he was the perfect fit. Until that point his life included 23 moves with everything in trash bags, starting six different elementary schools by first grade. Not sure whats next or where he would wake up tomorrow, or lay his sweet head. A few years have passed and that little quiet, unsure boy has turned into a pretty self assured and fun loving 9 year old. He has grown into such a great young man, one that dreams of going to MIT not of having a forever family. He is the boy that loves to help with our littles, loves the idea of us continuing to foster because it's in his heart too.
I've held my babies as we talked about life, I've explained the foster care system and how it's not their fault. I am a foster mother, I am an adoptive mother… I'm a wife and I'm a mom. Whether I'm a mom to my two or to the bonus children that we have in our home, I'm still on mom. My heart breaks for all of our babies, their families, their situation. None of this is their fault but its all become their detriment. I pray for them, I cry for them and I hurt both for and with them.
One of my goals and visions in my life is to help the others discover the foster care system and find their place in it, we all have a place somehow. I will continue to help guide adoptive parents through the process while also guiding foster parents through the journey and their new normal.