One recent episode of a popular show we see an adoptive mom share how at first the child she adopted was a stranger and how, over time, everything changed. Here is an adoptive parent response:
My husband and I talked about becoming foster parents for years. We were in our 40’s, financially stable, and it felt like time to do something bigger in the world. From the moment our license was approved, I stared at the phone. But it never rang… at least not the first day. But the second day…
“I came across a child that I think would be a perfect fit with your family, are you interested?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Well (pause), it’s actually two boys, not one (long pause) and it’s adoption, not foster (longer pause) But I really think you will be perfect together.”
My mind could not process what I was hearing. Adopt? As in forever? She sent me a tiny bit of information and asked me to call her after discussing with my husband.
Edward* was 10. James* was 6. And I was terrified.
The next week was a flurry of conference calls and meetings. We met their current foster mother of 18 months. We got an overview of how they were doing mentally, physically, and educationally. At the end of the meeting we saw their pictures for the first time. Sure they were cute, but these kids were complete strangers. I couldn’t imagine them calling me “Mom.”
Our first encounter went well. We went to dinner and were able to talk to them a bit. It was hard to live in the moment. We had to make a decision on whether or not these two boys would be my boys. Our boys. Forever. The weight of that decision was crushing.
The next day we said yes, though, if I’m honest, I was not sure I could do this. Five weeks, 15 visits, and 35 phone calls later, they moved in permanently. Yet I still didn’t know them. I couldn’t even predict what they wanted to drink from McDonald’s. The next six months were a blur of doctor and dentist appointments, counseling, meetings with teachers, and educational assessments. While I tried not to dwell on it, my mind often wondered: When will they feel like my boys instead of strangers?
My answers would come at very different times, and in ways I never imagined.
James had 2 eye surgeries in his first six months with us. Both times I was a wreck in the waiting room and went back to comfort him as he awoke from surgery. The second time, his body was having a hard time with the anesthesia and the nurse asked me to pick him up. I did so as gracefully as anyone can pick up a long-legged six year old. As I sat down with him, maybe for the first time I could truly see the little boy that he was. He was beautiful. I began to cry wondering if anyone had ever looked at him the way I must have been looking at him then. The nurse startled me when she said, “Yup, he knows who his momma is. His blood pressure just dropped right down to where it should be.” That blew my mind. That was the moment we forever became bonded as mother and child.
Edward was 10 and much easier to communicate with. He was level headed, always tried hard at everything he did, and had been a little adult for much too long. Our first serious conversation was about his one and only job: “You deserve to be 10 and act 10 and make 10 year old mistakes and have a 10 year old’s worth of fun.” It took him a while to accept that but he tried. Edward and we co-parented James for what felt like an eternity. Then, one day, James fell down and scraped his knee and as I ran to help him, Edward said, “That’s a mom’s job, can I go play with my friends?” We both felt the significance of that moment and we have been bonded ever since.
I wasn’t nearly as good at being an adoptive mom as I thought I would be. I made so many mistakes… too many to count. I still do. But we tackle this thing head on as a family. These are my boys. Our boys. Forever.
* The boys names have been changed for their privacy.
Owner / Operator of Paradise on Pair O’ Dice Family Retreat, specializing in getaways for larger than life families!
Photo Credit: Pati Rivas Pakulis