A great article came out about the cup show, first of two. I hope it gets the word out to a demographic I am anxious to reach about the cup show: adoptive and foster families.
I want you to know you are being celebrated and honored. You are truly saving lives. The lives of children who might otherwise be lost. And by lost I mean the young boy who never gets a chance to find out what he really loves to do and be and instead has to find his way alone on the street. Or a teenage girl who thinks the only way to be loved is to have a baby to take care of not having been loved wholly herself.
I wanted to be a parent, have a family. It didn’t matter to me if my kids were girls, boys, brown, white, birthed by me or not. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t thinking that I was doing a great thing or saving somebody. I mean, on some level I knew that to be true I guess, but it wasn’t my motivation.
As time went on, the intensity around what it would mean and who our children would be grew. The process was complex. There were interviews, background checks, letters of recommendation and home studies. A ten-week course educating us on the process, the kids, and the foster care system. We wrote long essays about who we are, our families, our goals, beliefs, you name it. Then we had to answer a long list of painfully difficult questions about what we could and could not handle in a child’s mental development, potential health issues or family dynamics. This stands out in my mind as one of the most difficult pieces of the process. How could I say I wouldn’t accept a child into my family if he or she had a disability, an alcoholic mother, or mental illness in their family’s history? I didn’t know who they could become, neither did anyone else and to judge who they are sight unseen by these things was mind blowing to me. I met a foster mom who took two children with feeding tubes into her care. One was in a wheelchair. I knew I couldn’t handle that, but for her, as a nurse, it was exactly what she wanted. Who she wanted.
When all that was said and done its time to choose. How do you choose which child you want? Such a bizarre thing. Phonebook size binders full of photographs, paragraphs of stories. Each and every one wrenched my heart. I wanted to take them all home. I cry now as I remember the picture of the triplet toddler girls, so perfect in their Sears portraits, needing a home and a place in someone’s heart. They are still in mine apparently. It was so, so hard and exciting at the same time. We learned about the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) at this time. MARE has an online database with a more comprehensive reach than a binder we might see.
Here’s the part I get asked about somewhat regularly. But how did you choose your kids? By now we had decided it was a sibling pair we were searching for. Not babies, not teenagers, but toddler to elementary school age kids. That was the criteria really. We looked on MARE and found five sibling groups of varying ages and genders. Some had photographs, some did not. (This is due to what the child’s legal status is at the time they are posted for adoption). We took a deep breath and wrote to each sibling group’s social worker and waited. We learned from their social workers that three of the sibling pairs were in the process of being placed so they were no longer seeking a family. One pair has a child with significant difficulties we didn’t think we could handle. That left one pair whose pics we hadn’t seen. The worker responded with two pictures and a short paragraph on each child.
We opened the email attachment. My hand went to my mouth, my heart leaped. (Yes, I’m tearing up now folks). It’s them! That’s them! Those are my children! I knew it immediately. We jumped up and down. Freaked out really. After that it was all system’s go in finding out how to meet them and what to do next. We couldn’t wait.
These were the two people who would change my life forever…..