I thought I would publish this because if my Mother were still alive, she would have turned 62 on August 30th. This is my birthday tribute to her.
My story is unique.
Statistically, foster situations happen when one or both parents are completely incompetent for one reason or another. My mother wasn't incompetent, just overwhelmed. My father was an alcoholic who beat my mother. He was always in and out, sometimes gone for days (jail, most likely) and even months. Then one day, he didn't come back. He was just gone. I was five-years-old the last time I saw him. He said he would meet me on Friday at the bus stop. He wasn't there, and I felt devastated.
My mother had Multiple Sclerosis. From the ages of five- to seven-years-old, I saw her go from walking with a limp to a cane to a walker to a wheelchair. One day when I was seven, she sat me on her lap and started crying softly. I had only witnessed her cry one other time. She usually waited until we went to bed.
She wept as she told me that caring for four children was very hard. She paused and then informed me that my younger sister and I would have to be placed into a foster home.
I held her face in my hands. "Do you still love me, Mommy?"
"Yes," she replied. "That's why I have to do this."
I didn't understand at the time, but as long as my mother said she loved me, I believed her. I had to.
Two weeks later, my sister and I went to a house to visit the W's. They seemed really nice and made some delicious cookies for us. They showed us where our room was, and that's when it hit me: I wasn't going to live with my mother anymore. I was silent on the ride back home. For the next two days, we packed everything my sister and I owned into bags.
I hugged my mother, brother, and sister goodbye and got in the car with a county worker. As we drove away, all I could do was wonder if I was dreaming. (Want a real kick in the tuckus? This was two weeks before Mother's Day. Great timing, huh?)
I talked to my mother over the phone pretty much anytime I wanted. We had weekly visits that a county worker named Jim supervised. He picked us up then stayed with us and drove us back. It was confusing and at times, it felt like I was leaving all over again.
Whenever I would call my mother, my foster mom would get on the phone after I finished talking. They would talk, and my mother would ask how we were doing. Mom always told her everything. Each seemed to understand and respect their roles in our lives.
I was 12-years-old when my sister and I were officially adopted. Once adopted, the weekly county worker visits stopped, but actual visits didn't. It wasn't every week still , but mom and dad would set up dates and take us out to see my family. They didn't have to do that. There was no requirement or law stating they had to, but they did it anyway.
When I was 13, my mother went into a nursing home. For the next five years, mom would drop us off and we would head to our mother's room to visit. She always gave us that time to just be alone, and I'm very grateful for that. Mom would come in after a while then visit with mother herself. Both women actually grew to love and respect each other. Their common ground was the well-being of me and my sister.
My mother passed away when I was 18. Mom and dad were completely supportive during that time, even though I had moved out of the house already.
I will forever be thankful that my situation was what it was. When I think about how hard it must have been for my mother, it only adds to my respect and admiration of her. She was the strongest person I will probably ever know. Now that my little Mini is the same age I was when I was given up into foster care, I am able to understand her sacrifice even more. I have an even greater respect for the woman I barely knew but loved immensely.
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