We had just picked up a special dinner for my kids to celebrate Valentines Day a day early. On our way to the park where we would enjoy time together flying kites and having a family picnic, an unexpected trigger happened. We passed the hospital where my birth children were born and one piped up, “Mom, that’s where we were all born…well, three of us were born there anyway.” Another one of my kids adopted into our family responded, “Not us. Right brother?”
That moment may seem insignificant but, those words represented separation. It represented the pain that comes with adoption. This feeling of not belonging that is so isolating. I could see the hurt in my son’s eyes when he responded, “I don’t want to talk about that.”
As a mom, I wanted to be able to make it all ok. I wish I could erase the pain-not erase their past but the pain that never truly goes away. But, I did what I have done so many times before. I reminded my children that our stories are special-every piece of our story is redeemable. There is no shame in adoption and no shame in being connected to our birth families. I reminded all of my children that really loving someone is a choice. Whether an adoptive, foster, birth, or another form of chosen family, loving someone everyday through our flaws, struggles, insecurities- choosing to push in instead of away when the latter would be easier- that is the strongest love anyone can be given. That kind of love is life-giving. It is the kind of love that we all have the power to give to others no matter how they came to be in our lives.
The morning after this moment happened, I woke up to an unexpected email- a valentine of gratitude from a young man in our housing program. I cried as I read his words.
“Your program is the only place I’ve been that I truly feel like I can relax and be myself. If there’s something that I have questions about, whether it be about credit scores, about what kind of insurance I should get, or if I need someone to talk to, I know that I can always go to you, and that you’ll be able go help me through it. You truly care about all of us in the program, and you try to help us whenever and however you can. There’s so much you do, and I really appreciate all of it. Honestly, I kinda look at you as more of a mom than as anything else.”
His words reinforced the truth already etched so deeply in my heart by my children. There is power in choosing to love another. There is power in making a choice to be there for someone and striving to add value to their lives for no other reason than because you care about them and want good for them. We all have this ability inside us. Biological connections do not define it. Financial means does not allow you to give more of it. We just have to be willing to give it (and receive it).
If you have been looking at ways to get involved in foster care, I encourage you to think about getting involved by choosing to be a meaningful connection in the life of a child in foster care or young adult transitioning out of foster care. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder/CEO Foster Arizona & Foster Arizona Housing Project