Today’s foster series post comes from a wonderful lady who has asked to remain anonymous. I am very grateful for her entry and the heart wrenching openness that brought me to tears and kept me on the edge of my seat while I read her story. Congratulations on the finalization of your wonderful son! – Sarah
Tomorrow is the adoption day for my youngest son. He is 22 mos old. I have known of him since before he was born. We had gotten a call during his birthmom’s pregnancy, telling us little, just that a mom may need her baby placed, and our name was brought up as a possibility. Fast forward a few more months…and we were just ending an emotional, media frenzied placement. My husband and I were discussing quitting foster care. I was emotionally drained. It had only been a week since the last placement had ended, when we got the call. This mother was in labor, and the newborn would need to be placed. My heart raced. We were quitting! But I was already thinking about baby supplies. I asked for time to think. I was offered an hour. I texted my husband, who responded something like, he was in if I was sure…or something close to that. It took only 5 minutes for me to reply to the worker that we wanted the baby.
I knew this was a foster care placement. I also knew they thought it would be long term. This scared me. I knew it would be another hard, emotional case. I tried to begin preparing myself. I waited to hear that the baby was born, and found out it was a boy. We had all girl things!! We needed to shop! And so we did! My husband actually really got into shopping for a little boy, it was fantastic. We went to see him in the hospital, and found he was being released to us. I let my daughter, 12 at the time, hold him first, as I filled out the paperwork. My husband was home with our other son (who we are also trying to adopt from foster care, he was almost 3 at the time). I saw this baby, and I knew I was in trouble. When I held him, and he wrapped his hand around my thumb, the wall I tried to build crumbled. We became a team in that moment. My son never took a pacifier, attached to a blanket, or a stuffed toy. I have always been his comfort item. We have an incredible bond.
My son’s birthmom has a mental illness. Her inability to parent is not her fault. This causes me great guilt. Her illness also causes me fear. She was given the opportunity, once stabilized with medication, to try to demonstrate the ability to parent. The initial goal in foster care is always reunification. Because of her illness, I was always afraid for this little boy. I know she loves him, without a doubt. I also know that what she does sometimes is not “her.” I had to trust the social workers, and this was very difficult. I cried a lot of tears. I felt incredible guilt, because I was trying so hard to help his birth mom too, as is my role as a foster parent. I would give her tips, and prompts and help along the way. But, the reality was, I wanted to adopt more than I wanted air to breathe. I could not imagine this child anywhere else. I felt selfish. I knew her illness was not her fault, and I felt horrible that this was happening. But, I also knew what the right thing was…and it was for him to be safe, with us.
Suddenly, when our son was 15 mos old, his birth mom announced that she wanted to let us adopt. It took me by surprise, and I don’t think I have ever sobbed the way I did in that moment. When I left that visit, I tried to tell myself not to be too hopeful, that she may change her mind. But, she never changed her mind. This is what she wanted. We never did another social worker visit after that. I continued visiting with her family, and she came to those visits. I am glad for that. I want him to know her, and her family too. I know she made the decision out of love. They have a bond, and I want the bond to continue. I think she recognized that the case wasn’t progressing, and I think she wanted it to be a choice, not something taken from her. I think it was a healthy decision. The birth father has never been in the picture. When he found out about the baby, he immediately wanted him adopted by us, citing the bond we had formed.
Nothing about foster care adoption has been easy. Until the petition for adoption is signed, I will worry that someone can take him. Family always has priority to foster care placement. We have been fortunate to have a relationship with family who wants to be involved, but not take placement. But, that involvement also gives me some fear until the date of adoption. What if they changed their minds?? That fear seems irrational with no basis, but it is still there. I don’t think its abnormal to have fear. Its also such a long process. But the end is worth it. So very worth it.
I am blessed.