I recently had the honor of speaking at the Twin Cities Listen to Your Mother story event. Below is my story — I hope many of you are blessed by it and encouraged to tell your own.
“A Mother to many”
Within the palms of my hand I held my deepest purpose in life. My heart was finally alive, awake, and secure in that moment. There was nowhere else I would have rather been. His name is Isaiah, the then foster and now adopted son of one of my very best friends. I flew into town to help them through one of the biggest transitions of their lives, becoming parents. I flew home to prepare for MY biggest transition, becoming a single foster mom.
The need was clear, my second bedroom in my little apartment sat empty and my ‘Yes” was screaming out from the deepest parts of my vocal chords. Of course, with each mountain top experience such as this comes the actual moment when you have to do the hard and messy work you’ve been eagerly preparing for. For me, the moment or shall I say the journey is now.
Babies 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 all came within this incredibly challenging and hilarious first year of motherhood. I’ll never forget the very first phone call. I had done enough research to know the exact number that would show up on my screen. The Sunday before the call came felt like the last piece of strength I had to wait had been pulled from underneath me, and I literally wept in the arms of my Girlfriends as they held me and believed with me that THIS would finally be the week. That Sunday was the day baby #1 born, and that Friday was the day I was asked to make her my very first foster love.
I walked into the quarantined room that held her, and so much fear paralleled with excitement rushed into every cell of my body. Seeing her very frail and weak, but precious body made me question my ability to do this almost immediately. “We will train you” whispered the nurse and train me they did. I learned how to wean an infant off of drugs, how to hold her as tremors took over her body and how to simply cry with her in her deepest moments of discomfort. I visited her day after day in that hospital until she was finally ready to come home. I took her for walks with a nurse that later became a friend of sorts. I stayed overnight to be sure I knew I was ready. You are never quite ready to be a mother, but at the same time you just are.
The night before we went home, I sat in a room with two broken hearted biological parents. They had already experienced so much loss in such a broken system and world, and this baby was their glimpse of hope. I was taking their glimpse of hope home with me. I stared into their eyes, and they stared into mine. I simply told them that I truly believed in them, was fighting for them and that I would love their girl as if she were my own until they were able to reunite. I assured them that I am only in a foster mom to give them and many others the time they need to reunify. This is my only intention. Three months later we celebrated as I brought her back home, and they again got to be together as family.
Baby E changed my life, and gave me the strength to fiercely love each and every baby that has come after her. This is hard stuff. As a single woman, I’ve journeyed with seven families through hopelessness, defeat and thankfully a few victories. Each month came with at least 50 hours of visitations with parents to navigate, endless texts and calls with the county, tension filled court dates, sleepless nights, formula run after run after run becoming best friends with Target and a whole lot of joy. I’ve gotten to love six brand new infants and one toddler, and I can’t even imagine this not being a part of my life.
The rumors are true; I don’t have a nanny. I work over 40 hours a week in my full time job to pay the bills. I work part time on the side to help meet all the needs. I volunteer and I lead in different arenas. I could go on and on of the many things that makes this seemingly impossible or the things that I don’t have to help in this journey. Instead, I’ll shine bright what I do have. I have more than enough love to go around. I have a village that’s got my back, and loves my kiddos as their own. I have miraculous strength to keep going and I have hope that I will continue to see families reunified. This is my deepest purpose: a mother to many and a hopeful friend to all.