There is a beautiful girl in my home who needs a family to commit to her and love her forever. And while she waits for that home, we wait in our home together. I have tucked her in every night, washed her face, styled her hair and kissed her goodbye every school day for six months straight. I cook for her, shop for her and worry about her, and for her, every single day.
I have changed my mind a thousand times over committing to her, about making a go of caring for three complex kiddos forever and I continue to return to the same spot I begin each time. This is more than I can do well. My head makes choices and my heart cleaves in thirds. And so I hold on for now and try my best. Our reasons for where we stand are clear to us, and clear to providers in our life. And in my head are so muddy and complicated. She was never a foster kiddo in the traditional sense, she and our biggest brother came to us for a short term emergency placement which has shape-shifted into something much more. She is the oldest, bravest sibling in my boys' family. She is of the same genetic map and life experience as my boys. The weight and the privilege of being able to care for her is something I am continually present with. And truthfully some days I yearn for easier times in our home with less little people, which really means I sometimes miss having less demands on me, less chaos and less of the appointments/providers/specialists/homevisits/meetings/crises/system disasters I have to clean up at home. And to be fair things are different with The Artist home on maternity leave, now we have (for the first time ever) more than one Mom home to help with the morning and afterschool routine. More than one Mom to run to grab groceries if we are out, so I'm not dragging three kids in rush hour traffic to the grocery store solo after working all day myself. There are good changes and hard changes happening in our home everyday. As your kids grow you're always adjusting to a new normal with developmental shifts and changing routines. And we are now adjusting to more free time, more home time, holiday time and our first season as a family of 5. We are nesting.
We are winding down on the number of adventures or special family traditions that are a first to her. Initially everything was "We are excited to see what you think of X adventure/cookie baking tradition/restaurant/road trip/museum!" There are now things we do as a family, rather than things we did as a family we were bringing her into. Which can seem small, until I step back and look at how we are really full-on two moms and three siblings in a home. And have the goal of helping my beautiful girl move on to her forever home someday. It's what I want most for her: a home that can love her, take care of her in the way she needs and will be an extension of my family. And it is what I am most broken hearted about. Maybe this is what all the other foster Mamas and Papas do all day everyday, love for the gift of loving and prepare for the rain to come when grief comes to stay in the place she once stood.
Our biggest brother has moved on to his own pre-adoptive home which is good news and hard news. We are excited to begin negotiating this new modern family together where relative strangers become part of the network of my life. Maybe by the time I have to do this again with my beautiful girl I'll have more wisdom and practice. Maybe that will help.
We legalized the adoption of our boys a few weeks back. In some ways it was a big momentous day, and in some ways they have been here so long, I've been so committed to a forever with them for so long it felt more a marker of time rather than a revelation. My biggest girl has known since she moved in that the boys were living with us forever and she was with us until her forever family is found. Her learning style is really complex so concepts like "forever" or "adoption" are almost too abstract for her. But she knew we had a meeting at court, and she knew we were meeting after to be all together.
The Moms went over about seven different plans for how to do this day. I felt (and still feel) it would have been better for her to be with us all day. To know what an adoption looks like, to see the courtroom, to know as she grows up that the day her brothers were adopted she was there too. To be included in the celebration for the important and loved family member she is and will always be. To have the story as she grows that she was important and included and she was beside us on this day like she is every other day. The system felt different. And of all the many things I will not miss about foster care, not being able to make the right choice for the kids you know best will forever rank #1. I know how she processes information, and I know what matters to her. What matters is being beside me and us. That sense of belonging has more staying power with her than a process she only vaguely comprehends. The system said no. They said she would feel left out. I said a lot of things. They said no. So no it was. And so on the day we legalized she had a matching outfit with the boys. Stayed home from school and got a manicure and pedicure with our Supernanny while we were at court, met up with us and did a big extended family lunch and then sleepover party with her favorite cousins. We did not make a huge deal out of the adoption, and framed the lunch as a family celebration for our adoption court meeting, and family was in town because they love us, and the sleepover was a party because they live out of state and it's a treat to see them. Which really is all true. We didn't have adoption signs or banners at home, and everyone who brought a gift brought one for her as well. The gift of having our boys for two years allowed this to be a smoother Adoption Day than it might have been otherwise. And then just like that we went back to living our life and doing what we do as a family.
This will be the first month I sign papers with our family name. This will be the first month social workers are not in my home to meet with my boys nor will they ever have say over my boys again. And my girl continues to be parented by our family and the child welfare system. And I wait. And I hope someone who is kind and gentle and full of love is brought to us by the universe and welcomes this brave, strong girl into their home. And I hope the pain of losing her doesn't last forever.
Love always wins,
Foster Mom (The Therapist)