I am a foster-to-adoptive mother. This means that I chose to foster a child with the hope that I will adopt him or her. Nothing could have prepared me for all of the emotions that I felt when I met my foster daughter. I have read adoption stories about parents who say that the first time they met their child, they knew it was meant to be. It didn’t work like that for me. My little girl’s situation had so many unknowns and for that first year I felt like I could become childless at any moment. The fear that this small person could be taken away from me made it difficult to let her grow into a part of my life.
The process of learning how to mother her wasn’t intuitive. Before me, there had been other important people in her life. I was now their substitute, and it made her angry. Some nights after I put her to bed, I questioned why I had ever taken this route to motherhood in the first place. I still wanted to become a constant person in her life. She needed me, and I stopped thinking about my own emotions and focused on her feelings. I learned to stop being fearful, and love her even if the possibility existed that she would not be my forever daughter. Two years later, our relationship is thriving.
A few months ago, I gave birth to my son Oliver. Throughout the pregnancy, I wondered what the dynamic would be like between my foster and biological child.
The day after Oliver was born, he met his sister for the first time. She tiptoed into the hospital room wearing a homemade crown that said Big Sister. She gave him a kiss, barely grazing his forehead. I had never seen a bigger smile on her face. When they are in a room together, his eyes follow her everywhere. She calls him “My Oliver.”
One day when I came to pick her up from preschool, she handed me a binder. Inside, were pictures of each child’s family.
“Look Mama. Look at my family,” she said.
I looked closely at the photograph. It was a picture of the four of us, taken a week after Oliver was born. My tears blurred the faces smiling back at me.