If someone had told me when I was a child that I’d be a foster and adoptive parent, I might have believed it. See I always knew I wanted to be a mom but I also knew at a very young age that it didn’t matter to me, how I got there. Adoption was always a consideration. Until it became a necessity.
In 2012, at 38 years old, I embarked on a genetic testing journey to prepare myself to have a baby through IVF. My father had died from complications of the hereditary Huntington’s Disease (HD) and so I had to face that demon head on before bringing a child into the world. As my partner and I navigated those difficult and emotional waters, we also simultaneously considered baby names and nursery colors in an attempt to keep our spirits up and our hope alive. Luckily, after a few months we found out that I was negative for the dreaded HD and so our plans to have a baby could proceed. Until they couldn’t.
For two years, we battled various pregnancy barriers, some related to my age and some related to my oddly shaped uterus. And so we stopped and moved on to pursue adoption. Again, it didn’t matter to us HOW we came to be parents, just that we did. So the next part of our journey began and we interviewed multiple private adoption agencies thinking that would be the most direct (albeit most expensive!) route to motherhood. Until it wasn’t.
Because in the meantime, we also got licensed to be foster parents and thought we’d just see which option panned out first. Little did we know that just TWO days after receiving our license in the mail, we’d get a call about a baby in the hospital who needed a home. We met Baby D. that night and less than 24 hours later, she was in our home. That was in 2014. Now at 3.5, she is our first but also our middle child. We have since taken in one-month old M. and M’s 6 year old brother, J. It has certainly been quite the ride for her. And us.
Four years and three kids later, we are now a party of five walking through all the regular, standard ho-hum challenges and joys of being a family unit, but also the isms, the nuances, the “stuff” that comes with being a family that is
- multi- and mixed- race
- run by two gay moms
- juggling birth mother visits and open adoptions
- working through trauma histories
- learning how to style black hair
- terrified of upcoming court sessions that will decide the fate of our two foster children we’ve been raising for almost over two years,
- helping our families to understand the subtleties of our kids’ needs
- dialoguing in grocery stores when asked “Is she yours?”
- making sure our son has positive mirrors that reflect back someone who looks like him so that he can see his future and his potential
- juggling therapy sessions and IEP meetings and social workers and foster care reviews and licensing updates and…and…and…
Parenting in general is hard. And being a foster/adoptive parent is hard plus a side of hard. There are so many additional things, perspectives, feelings, realities, circumstances, and layers to consider and plan for and accommodate and be sensitive to.
Our friends with biological children don’t
- schlepp to birth mother visits
- worry about how to sensitively and naturally work new cultural celebrations into their homes
- host social worker visits once a month
- attend adoption support groups
- navigate the devastation you know you’ll feel if one day they take that sweet baby from your home
But somehow you get through it. You figure it all out. You make it work. You learn. You grow. You do your best to give them what they need. You have the same hopes, dreams, and fears. You wonder what they’ll look like when they’re older, who they’ll become, what their life path will be. Just like any parent. Despite how my family came to be or how different it looks, at the end of the day, a lot of it is also the same.
And when you come home to your 3 year old who announces that she has the best Halloween costume idea (“Mommy, I can be the pizza and you can be my crust!”) or your 7 year old holding the tooth that fell out in school or the 2 year old singing a pretty good rendition of “Yellow Submarine” in the tub, you know that it’s worth every second.
There are hundreds of thousands of different stories of how families come to take part in foster care and adoption, but one thing stands out as universal: Love. Love is what makes a family. It lifts us, heals us, carries us and comforts us.
As a foster and adoptive mom, my home is filled with it, my heart is filled with it, my life is filled with it, and I have my sweet, loveable kids to thank for that.
About the Family
Keri, a Boston Real Estate agent, and her wife Mary, a middle school teacher, started their family in 2014 with the birth and subsequent adoption of their daughter D. In 2015, they added one month old M. to their family, followed 10 months later by her biological brother J, both of whom they’re hoping to adopt in 2018. They’re also parents to a senior dog and one loveable cat! Together, Keri and Mary balance their work, active family, community involvement and their busy, rich life with the help of a little magic known as “Google Calendar!”