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Fostering Family Love

April 7, 2016

Letter F

Before the debilitating effects of her diabetes struck full-force, my mother, who always had a hard time accepting reality, used to share with me, and for some reason, not my other sisters, how much she had always dreamed of adopting another child.

“I don’t know that I cared much if it were a boy or a girl,” she used to tell me, with a strange look in her eyes, as if she were listening to soft music playing off in the distance.

“I figured nine or ten would be a great age,” she spoke her aloud the inner workings of her imagination. “That was a great age for all of you kids. You all did okay in school then, you had friends…things went pretty well during fourth and fifth grade for the three of you, right? No measles or chicken pox, no acne or hysteria about boys or calorie counting and meal planning. Yep,” she sounded as if she was re-convincing herself, “nine or ten would have been the perfect age…boy or girl.”

I remember asking her why she never went ahead with it, why she just held onto it as one of those things that she wholeheartedly wanted to do, but never really pushed for. I had lived long enough to know the answer without pushing the issue. My mother, as giving and amazingly kind and filled with good intentions that she was, lived a life overflowing with ‘I could if I would, but I can’t so I won’t’ as her day-to-day mantra.

It may have been that day…that very moment in my life, somewhere beneath the surface of my consciousness, that I made the decision not to have any children of my own, and either to adopt or to become a foster parent.

Foster Families Rock

Foster Families Rock

Today, too many years later than I care to admit, long after my mother’s face appears in splintered memory fragments, just beyond what it feels like my hands can reach out for but never quite get a hold of, I sit in my quiet corner of my bedroom, my makeshift office.

I have just gotten off the phone with the county worker.

“The court finally ruled in favor of terminating the rights of the biological parents. Have you and Bill considered taking on the role as legal guardianship for the boys,” she asks matter-of-factly.

The front door slams resoundingly, disturbing the dogs lying at my feet. They bark, abandoning me as they head down the hallway to investigate. The louder-than-it-ought-to-be banter begins.

“…Told you I could beat your slow-moving-self inside… I won!” It is the older of the two boys, the one who is driven by the need to be better than others in order to feel good. It is something we’re working on, seemingly all the time.

“…Like hell…I mean heck…” the younger shouts back. “You didn’t beat me. It was a tie!” We’re working on choosing appropriate words to express ourselves and although my window of quiet time has come to an abrupt end, I take note that he caught himself and has begun to buy into making even the smallest of changes.

They bound up the steps, stopping at the top landing for their slurped greeting from their lovable canine brothers, “were you both good boys, today” they ask furry Zack and Cody in unison.

I click save from the pull down menu on the word document I was working on and shut the computer off. I’ll get back to it later tonight after Bill and I have a chance to talk and after the boys are asleep.

Right now, I have a family to tend to…my foster family.

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