Every day we struggle financially. Each day can be a physical marathon. But everyday I look at my Fearsome 3some and my college-attending teen, I know how lucky I am.
My oldest arrived at a time that may have been “less than ideal”: I was between Grad School Graduation & my first job in a new city- Philadelphia. I signed up to be a control on a “Core Temperature in Depression” study, recruiting non-pregnant females for $75 to swallow a silicone bean & wear a monitor. Imagine my 24-year old surprise! It was a roller-coaster but the answer to my dream of becoming a mother.
My son’s arrival was a flurry of NICU docs, worried nurses & labor-enhancing drugs. He arrived via vacu-assist (appropriate give his surname) and blinked at everyone like: What’s all the fuss? I’m fine. Parenting him was easy & carefree as I look back- but seemed every bit the struggle of every parent as I went through.
When he was 12 years old, my other mothering wish came true: he would have siblings, a brother & a sister, and they would join us in a new home I was able to purchase. His big heart and caring nature were so evident as soon as his brother & sister arrived. When his youngest sister came home, his heart swelled even more. It was amazing to watch & I could not ask for a more clear indication of parenting “success”.
The twins & my youngest may struggle with medical needs, feeding & energy but make up for it in the breadth of their capacity to love, endure & enjoy. They wake each day & immediately check-in with each other. Any separation (like taking my youngest with me to the grocery when a nurse is here with the twins) is predicated with a group hug & concludes with a reunion worthy of a Disney production.
Right now they are sitting at the kitchen table drawing plans for a Leprechaun Trap and sharing their ideas with each other. Yes, there is bickering over who has the box of crayons, which idea is best for the trap, what a Leprechaun will do if they don’t wear green… But most of the interaction is give & take of ideas, punctuated with positive encouragement of “that’s a good idea!”
Medical needs aside, I may be the luckiest mother in America.
(See what 4.5 hours of sleep does for a person?!)
I could not say this better myself.
Today I told my kids the truth. An ugly truth. A truth that as the words flew from my over-tired, fed-up, beat-down mouth, I wanted to un-say. A hundred times your children ask- the same things, over & over, about family they miss. And the only truth, is a horrible truth, an ugly & dark & hurtful truth.
It is not my truth, nor a truth held true in our view, but a truth to one day face.And I hate myself for speaking it aloud.
There are people the world over who believe the bonds that are most enduring are the bonds of birth: “Blood is thicker than water”. Within my immediate household, these words have been disproven again and again. 3 of my 4 children joined my family through adoption. My children are loving and close with each other in a way I always have hoped my children would be. My youngest 3 share biology but they all hold my son & my hearts- bonded as family, across bloodlines, across race. We are a real family.
My family has lived in New England for multiple generations. My Mom’s family was originally from New Jersey but even her sister moved to New England after her parents died. My Father’s family lived back and forth between a few of the neighboring states here, but always New England after their family arrived in the US during the Potato Famine.
Most of my family, including first cousins, live within 250 miles of Boston, MA. Of 12 first cousins, only 2 live outside this region. There are frequent family get-togethers & the children of my sisters & cousins know each other well from frequent connecting at these gatherings. Well, all children but mine.
Because of my children’s health challenges & susceptibility to illness, we rarely get together with my family members- even those who live 10 minutes away. My nieces and nephews attend schools and gymnastics classes and … birthday parties. [scandalous!] These outings are a part of childhood for most children the US over- but my kids catch everything [by "everything": they caught Scarlet Fever after attending a RedSox game last June- yes, 2011, not 1906...]. To keep healthy, we bow out of every family gathering when one kid is sick- or ANY relative is ill or feels like an illness is coming on.
When my kids came home, I thought my family was ready to welcome them with open arms. We talked of sharing dinners, playing in back yards, walking along our local bike path… Then my kids seemed a whole lot sicker than my family had prepared for… There were more needs, more medical treatments, more emergency room visits and in-patient stays. One relative even hangs up when I call from the ER- treating each of our emergency trips as tho they are “attention-seeking” vacations. Sometimes you want to just nod & say: “Yeah. My kids are checking in to the Club Med floor here at Children’s…” I live a parallel life with my family- nearby, following along, but never quite in the same place.
Have YOU ever thought about adoption from foster care? It isn’t always easy but I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering adoption. There are challenges with the children, the workers, the process and within our own lives. BUT it is the single most rewarding thing you can do if it is in your heart to become a parent through adoption.
The US Department of Health and Human Services compiles statistics on foster care and foster adoption for every calendar year. Last year’s data indicates that 115,000 children were waiting in foster care to be adopted as of the last day of Fiscal Year 2009 http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm . Although 57,000 children were adopted during FY 2009, nearly TWICE that many live in a non-permanent placement awaiting placement with their forever Mom and Dad.
Children who grow up in foster care suffer repeated upheaval of their home-base & other significant losses. When these children age out of foster care, even if they are dedicated enough to go to college, rarely have a place to call home for Thanksgiving break or a winter holiday. Is it any wonder that the statistics show that greater than 3/4 of them “fail” in future life challenges- going to prison or dying young? Recently, former foster children have overtaken war veterans as the single largest population in homeless shelters in the State of California.
If it is in your heart to foster a child, or to pursue adoption through foster care, please go to http://www.adoptuskids.org and click on the link to find information on foster-adoption in your State. “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.”