Janelle Oliveira is the 29-year-old author of Mommy’s Heart,who began her journey as a foster mother at age 25. From babysitting and nannying for her whole life, Janelle realized that she would love an adopted child, in need of a home, just as much as she would a biological child. She was matched with a baby boy in foster care just after finishing the MAPP course, and he has been with her ever since. Last year, in December of 2018, the adoption of her son was legalized.
What brought you into the world of writing?
I have been interested in writing ever since I was eleven when I started writing poetry and creating magazine templates. My ultimate dream was to create a book and to be able to read it to my future kids one day.
Did that dream come true?
Yes! Once I received the hard copy of my book, Mommy’s Heart, I read it to my son twice and then to my niece.
What compelled you to write about adoption?
When I was younger, I babysat for different local children and I had always loved it. In my early twenties, I became a full-time nanny, and I made deep connections with the kids I cared for. That is what made me realize that I could love a child in need of adoption just as much as if they were my own. When I was 24, I started looking into foster care more deeply. At this point, I was living on my own with extra room, the resources, and love to provide for a child in need. Just when I finished the MAPP course, I was quickly placed with the son that I’m raising today.
Now, he is approaching four years of age, and he knows when he sees a pregnant belly that there is a baby inside. He once asked me if he was ever in my belly, and to that question I told him, “you were in someone else’s belly, but the whole time you grew inside of my heart.”
I wrote this book for my son, and for every family that adopts, so that adopted children will know that they have been loved and have belonged in their families from the start.
What is unique about your book’s portrayal of adoption?
First of all, there are not a lot of books on adoption in general, and very few touch on every aspect of the process, or capture its many variations. The illustrations in my book show different avenues through which adoption can take place, as well provide representation for diversity of background. I want any adopted child who is reading this book to be able to identify with the way they came to be in their family so that they feel special, not different.
My view on adoption is that these kids are no different to their families than a biological child would be: they were sought out and wanted by their families from the start. My son, I knew was my son when I first saw him. I don’t know how to fully explain it. I knew it wasn’t a guarantee that I would be able to adopt him when I fostered him, but we both looked at each other and knew he was mine- always meant to be mine. That is why, in my book, I depict adoptive mothers preparing for their baby, the same way a mother who is trying to conceive a baby would. I really wanted to emphasize that from start to end, adopted children’s journeys to their families are full of love.
On the back cover of my book I left a message to all adopted children:
“ You are wanted, loved, and cherished from the start, you didn’t grow in mommy’s tummy, but you came from her heart.”
Are you working on any related pieces?
Right now, I am working on a piece meant to further validate all the ways a child can come into a family. I want to make it known that a family unit can be formed in many ways, whether through foster care, adoption, insemination, etc. I hope to emphasize that, no matter how you got there, your family is valid and yours.
Here is the link to purchase Mommy’s Heart on Amazon: