I remember when the adoption caseworker said that the one-year-old child I was looking at in the foster-child bulletin was definitely the right one for me. This child had already been shipped across multiple states and would end up aging out of the foster care system if no one adopted her, just like all of the other waiting children with parental rights terminated.
When I finally met her, she was sitting on her foster mother’s lap, and the woman looked extremely tired. I found out this was because she already had so many children in her home that she was caring for, and she was so glad this child was being adopted. She told me that she absolutely hated seeing children getting bounced between homes, then handed the child to me.
I brought a toy phone with me. As the child reached out for it, our eyes met, and the caseworker took a picture of that moment. I later wrote on the back of the photo that this was the first time I had seen her.
I had no understanding of why so many parents wanted to adopt this child. It made me tremble just to have the honor to do so. Her name was Luppi Milov, and I couldn’t even say her name to myself because I was so overjoyed at the opportunity to adopt her.
I already knew I was capable of getting pregnant; however, I didn’t want to because there are so many children in the foster care system who need parents to love and care for them. I wanted a child, so I knew this was a perfect opportunity for me, and it made so much sense; however, it didn’t make so much sense to my friends, who always asked me if I was afraid of adopting, which I wasn’t. This is because I grew up with abuse and poverty, as well as molestation. It felt almost magical for me to adopt a child from foster care.
While ideals are one thing, reality is another thing entirely. Motherhood’s first months really hit me big time with appointments that included doctors, specialists, and occupational therapy. I also stayed up late reading my daughter books and learning all about the different challenges that she faced. Preschool started with the potential of special education; however, I knew that she was already perfect.
Three years later, my caseworker told me that I was just right for another child – this time, a little boy. This was another child who had bounced around to different homes and had issues with rage and attachment. In fact, while I was talking with his foster parents, he actually went after another child from down the hall.
At my home, the boy, which my daughter decided to call Tony, bit me, trashed his room, threw the dog dish at me, and tore down the shower curtain. Oftentimes, I would go into the bathroom and start shaking, feeling disappointed, thinking that it was hard to love a child that didn’t love you back. At the same time, however, I knew that I couldn’t fail him. Whenever he would begin to rage, I would simply tell him over and over again that I loved him.
A child psychiatrist suggested floor time, which is where you go down to their level and play games with them for hours. During this time, I would wake up to find Tony right by my bed asking for floor time. During that time, his sister told me that he was afraid we were going to give him away. Also during that time, the rages slowly began to stop, and at one point, Tony told me that I brought him home.
Six more years passed by before my caseworker told me I would be perfect for another little boy. This time, it was an infant named Markel Antoine, who I really wanted to be mine. One magical day, his stroller finally came out, complete with occupational games and a Rolodex full of occupational therapists.
His foster mother also told me that he doesn’t really sleep at night and that he also screams during the night. She also told me that his future was uncertain. I already knew all of that, yet I also felt that I could handle almost anything, especially with difficult children.
Whenever all of us were out doing something, people often asked if my children were siblings, especially after they realized I adopted all of them. My answer was simply “they are now.” I would also often be asked if I wanted to have my own children, and my response always would be that the children I have now are my own.
Adopting from foster care allowed me to become the parent that I needed to be. I was essentially allowed to have a childhood again filled with safety and love.
It has now been 20 years since I adopted all three of my children, who are now working, going to school, and thriving in life. We also recently took a family vacation together for four days, going from Oregon to Phoenix. My caseworker was certainly right when she said that I would be perfect for them.