I’ve been silent for too long. I put down the proverbial pen and stopped blogging shortly after my first daughter was born in 2011. Sure, you were able to read a post here or there about my thoughts for the day when I had time, but the truth was, I lost interest. I had a brand new love in my life — a tiny baby girl. She needed me, and I needed her.
I loved her more than anything. I did everything that I possibly could to make her feel safe, happy, and loved. And as I looked at her little hands and feet every night, I realized that I had never felt more clueless in my whole entire life. Knowing that I was this tiny human’s mom was both empowering and terrifying at the same time. Who will she be? I knew in my heart that it was up to me.
About 6 months after our daughter was born, my husband and I knew that we still had room in our home, money in the bank, and love in our hearts. Together, we decided to become part of Ohio’s foster care system. We sat through hours of training, listened to heart-wrenching stories, and stared into the eyes of broken children all across the county.
We started slow — with respite visits — which foster parents sometimes use when they need a break from their foster children. I don’t say that to be cruel. I’m sure everyone can agree that you cannot be your best self if you are not taking care of yourself. And parenting foster children is not like parenting your own biological children. Chidren in foster care have been removed from the only world they ever knew, usually unwillingly, and in most cases unable to understand why. They all hurt. Sometimes the pain is visible, but most times, these kids have buried their scars — unable to communicate their suffering. So they carry it silently as they shuffle from house to house, and so very rarely are returned to what they call “home”.
A few kids came and went through our doors. We welcomed them with open arms, never judging, yet never truly able to empathize with any of them. They were broken, and though we couldn’t fix them, we could show them kindness — even if it was for a day. We built relationships with social workers, other foster parents, neighbors, and friends.
And that was the beginning of our clueless adventures through fostering and adoption.
Life continued to pass by, until one day, a beautiful little girl walked into our home. She was scraggly looking with unevenly cut hair, wearing dirty clothes that were clearly two sizes too big. She called every woman she saw, “mommy”, but when she said it to me, something inside me lit up. I knew that this child needed me as much as I needed her. She was two years old.
We kept this little girl for two weeks of respite. And when those two weeks were up, tears were streaming down my face as I drove her back to her other foster mother’s home. I pleaded with the woman to at least let my husband and me still see the little girl from time-to-time. Maybe we could take her to the zoo or to the park. Anywhere really. We’re happy to have her back at any time you need respite again. The woman agreed that we could still see the little girl, and my husband and I were so grateful.
We said our goodbye’s to the little girl, and as the woman started to shut the door, we watched that child throw her little body on the floor and scream and cry. “Mommy!” she yelled. “Mommy!” I knew in my heart that she was calling for me. My husband and I cried all the way home that day. Neither of us able to speak, neither of us able to look each other in the eyes. We were heartbroken.
A few weeks later, I received a call in the middle of the night from a social worker. Are you able to foster a little girl for an extended period of time? My heart started to beat faster as I listened to the social worker describe the situation. The foster mother’s daughter came home from college, and found her mother passed out on the floor. Two little foster girls were playing quietly in their room, sealed off from the rest of the house by a baby gate in the doorway. They were completely aloof to the entire situation.
One of the little girls was the one my husband and I had previously fostered — the two-year-old that we had to leave. The words escaped my mouth faster than I could comprehend what I was saying, “Yes! Of course!” Within minutes, I was out the door, driving to the same little girl’s foster mom’s house. And when I walked through the door, she ran up to me, threw her arms around me and said, “Mommy!”
The weeks after that were a blur of finding childcare, doctor’s appointments, and caring for my own biological daughter with my husband. My love for that little girl grew stronger and stronger everyday. She was developmentally behind in gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and speech, and she was also under-nourished. Together, my husband and I brought her up to par.
After a year, my husband and I went to court. The state was trying to take permanent custody of the little girl — now 3-years-old — and permanently sever the biological family’s parental rights. My husband and I sat quietly in the back wiping away tears, holding our heads high, and staring intently at the judge. Before he made his final decision, we wanted that judge to know that this little girl did have two parents who loved her and would do everything in our power to raise her as our own.
We watched what was left of this little girl’s biological family parade around the court room and speak about how much they loved her and wanted her back. Yet, none of them cared to visit her while she was in foster care. Not even on her birthday. Her biological mother, who was 15 at the time, didn’t show. Her biological father sat quietly in an orange jump suit, handcuffed from previous crimes.
The judge ruled from the bench after 8 hours. He went down the line, pointed to each family member, and called each and every one of them out for their carelessness and indifferent view of the entire situation. He knew that none of them really wanted the little girl. They only wanted to fight to have her, so the state couldn’t.
The judge ruled in favor of the state. And with a slam of his gavel, the little girl became adoptable. Six months later, she became a part of our family forever.
There aren’t a lot of people who know the story behind my daughter’s adoption and the above is but a mere snippet. I’m telling it here now as I begin a new chapter of the my life. The CluelessMe posts will be more open this time around, and more real. I’ll be writing posts about all of my life’s ups and downs.
I am no longer afraid to share the bad with the good. The CluelessMe story must go on.