Confessions of Another Mother
Being a foster parent is something of an enigma. You are simultaneously a parent, but not a parent, and never are you the only parent. Here, a foster mother finds herself lamenting on motherhood, foster care, fairness and fertility in light of the approaching Mother's Day celebration.
- 11 Published May 9, '12
As a foster parent, I sometimes feel how I imagine Schrödinger’s cat might have felt. I am simultaneously a mother, and not a mother. The child is mine, but not my own. And no matter what happens, I will never be the mother to that child, I can only ever be a mother. One of many. As mother’s day approaches, my first with children in my home, this weighs heavily on my heart.
There are days that the unfairness of it all is overwhelming. Here there are these parents who, while they may clearly love their children, have prioritized other aspects of their life ahead of their child. Meanwhile, I, the pseudo-parent, have missed work for doctor’s appointments, stayed up all night comforting and rocking, pushed aside my own hobbies and desires, spent less time with friends, delayed visits to family, put any semblance of a normal marriage on hold, and at times turned my entire world upside down to care for their children. And the thing is, I would do it all again! I would not trade the time I’ve spent with these kids for anything.
Sometimes I’d just like to shake the parent…do you not see what you are missing? Do you not know what a wonderful, resilient, smart, funny, gorgeous, perfect kid you have? Do you not realize how lucky you are to have them? Do you not know what I would give to have one of my own just like yours?
And that’s what it boils down to. The one thing that no matter what horrors they commit, there is one thing these parents have that I never will…a child of their own. Even if their parental rights are terminated, the biological bond can never be severed. I can love their child with every fiber of my being, and I do, but I will never be the first mother. Even if we ultimately adopt, the day will come when the child will seek out their origins…this I expect and even encourage. But there are times that it haunts me: these women have thrown away something I desperately want and cannot have.
There are days I want to stamp my feet like a toddler and scream “it is NOT fair!” There are days when I am simply resigned to the fact that this seems to be my lot in life…I drew the short straw. Then there are other days when I can see through my grief and realize that this hand I’ve been dealt is truly a blessing disguised as a curse. If I had conceived my own children, I may never have known the wonderful little souls who have now become the center of my universe. Had I born a child of my own, I would not have known the inner strength that I have found in order to continue down this road. I have had to face my darkest fears, my deepest insecurities, and take a hard look at my own flawed self and continue to put one foot in front of the other. There have been days when I have said “I cannot do this”, and yet I did. I have felt overwhelmingly that I cannot go on, and yet I have. And as many times as I have mused to myself or aloud to my husband that I don’t think I can handle another foster placement after the ones we have now, somehow I know that I will.Last edit by Joe V on May 9, '12
I am the foster mom to three great kids ages 5, 4, and 8 months, the wife to my wonderful husband of 10+ years, and a busy School Nurse to an elementary school of over 500 students and staff. My husband and I hope to grow our family by adopting through the foster care system. We have found fostering the most difficult, but rewarding, thing we have ever done.
Purple_Scrubs joined Dec '08 - from 'Dallas-Fort Worth'. Age: 36 Posts: 2,200 Likes: 3,567; Learn more about Purple_Scrubs by visiting their allnursesPage
8May 9, '12 by sunflowerlambgiving birth does not make a woman a mother any more than standing in a garage would make her a car. you are a mother. celebrate to the fullest. i understand your want for one of your "own". it is my belief that god needed you else where. not everyone has what it takes to really love someone elses child. happy mother's day to you. may you be showered with blessings to many to count!4May 9, '12 by leslie :-D(((purple))), please try and not be discouraged?
you are giving these kids a true sense of what (healthy) love is, and should be...
something they lacked from their bio parent(s).
while it is true that kids will always love their (bio) parents, it is also a source of excruciating pain when they are old enough to recognize what their parents didn't/couldn't give them.
but when they think of you, that will be how they came to feel they were worthy of being cared for and cherished.
i totally agree with sunflowerlamb, that God put you in this role for a reason.
keep the faith, and try to focus on the gift of you.
whether it is acknowledged or not, it is people like you that give mothers and fathers day, their true meaning.
leslie5May 9, '12 by Spidey's mom GuideYou and your husband are amazing people and I admire you both.
We have a local case of a young boy who was almost killed by his mother. I agree sunflowerlamb - giving birth does not mean you are a child's mother. The same for a sperm donor.
The mother and father - mommy and daddy - are the ones who raise you, care for you, love you.
Biology does not trump real love.
You ARE mom.5May 10, '12 by Purple_ScrubsThank y'all for the kind words. Writing is cathartic, so it helps me to get all my frustrations out and on paper (or screen?) We are going to keep Mother's Day low key this year, which I think is why it bothers me so much. My 4 and 5 year old have not seen their mother since they have been in foster care, and her whereabouts are unknowns. She is a no-show for every visit (their father shows up religiously). They are a little young to realize on their own what the day is, so we are not going to make a big deal of it. Somehow just not the first Mother's Day I imagined for myself, but it is really about doing what is best for the kids1May 10, '12 by Spidey's mom GuideAh - I didn't realize being a foster parent was so new to you and that this was the first Mother's Day.
Truly, some mothers tear up their own mother card by their own actions. Teaching a child or children that this is not their fault is very important.
Happy Mother's Day.1May 10, '12 by Purple_ScrubsThank you! We were licensed a year ago this week, but did not get our first placement until last June, so it's the first one with kids in our home. Our first placement left just before Father's Day, so this will be my hubby's first as well. It is likely to be awkward also since they do have their father in their life...they call me Mama but my husband by his first name or sometimes Daddy "Firstname".8May 10, '12 by traumaRUs AdminWhat a blessing you are to these kids.
I wasn't a foster child but rather was in an orphanage until age 2 then I was adopted. I did look up my birth mother many years later (I was in my early 30's). It was okay but I couldn't be the daughter that she wanted. The thing that I was so surprized at is how much I looked like her.
For me, that was neat. Our own sons look like their Dad and my grandchildren look like relatives too. For me, who grew up in a household where none of us looked alike - this was new.
However, it never demeaned or diminished my thoughts that my adopted mother was my Real Mother. Like you, she is the one who was there.2May 13, '12 by Esme12 Senior ModeratorQuote from Purple_ScrubsHappy Mothers Day Purple!!! There is much more to mothering than a uterus and genetic material. Your are a Mom in the truest sense of the word. You are mothering the motherless. A better woman than I.Thank y'all for the kind words. Writing is cathartic, so it helps me to get all my frustrations out and on paper (or screen?) We are going to keep Mother's Day low key this year, which I think is why it bothers me so much. My 4 and 5 year old have not seen their mother since they have been in foster care, and her whereabouts are unknowns. She is a no-show for every visit (their father shows up religiously). They are a little young to realize on their own what the day is, so we are not going to make a big deal of it. Somehow just not the first Mother's Day I imagined for myself, but it is really about doing what is best for the kids
Happy Mothers day!!