Four Castaways Make a Family
We found this great essay on foster care adoption in the Modern Love column of the New York Times. A single mom, who grew up poor and suffered abuse during her childhood, created her own family through adoption. Her reflections are quite beautiful. The whole essay is well worth your time.
As far as I knew, I was capable of getting pregnant. I just didn’t want to. There were half a million children in foster care in need of an adoptive parent. And I wanted children, so this made perfect sense to me.
It didn’t make perfect sense to my friends.
“Aren’t you afraid?” they asked.
No, I wasn’t. I had grown up with poverty, abuse and molestation. If my daughter wasn’t worth saving, neither was I. Besides, I didn’t believe that biology guaranteed love. I had grown up in a biracial family, unrelated to one of my siblings and half-related to others, and I certainly didn’t love them half as much.
Adopting from foster care felt magical. There was a wildness of imagination to it, a proclamation of intent: a decision to love.
Of course, ideals are one thing, reality another. The first months of motherhood hit me like a lead-filled gunnysack, my free time absorbed by occupational therapy appointments, doctors and specialists. I stayed up late reading books, learning about her challenges. Preschool started with special education looming, but I decided she was perfect just as herself.
And just like that, she bloomed.
After adopting a 2 year old with attachment and behavioral issues and a medically fragile infant, the author concluded:
I had come to believe that the most important therapy is permanence. Children can sense when they are in a temporary home. All my children grew rapidly once settled, going from below the fifth percentile in height and weight to close to average. More important, they grew emotionally. It is love that feeds the soul, allows us all to flourish.
Art Credit: Brian Rea