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The Adoption of My Son through Foster Care
My foster care journey began in 2002. After years of infertility, I had decided to join the world of foster parenting with the intent to adopt.
Don't get me wrong, I went into this with the complete understanding that the main goal of foster parenting was to assist with taking care of a child until they could return home.
This is the story of adopting my son through foster care. I have also told the story of adopting my daughter through foster care. My kids aren't blood related, but you'd never know that if you witnessed the sibling rivalry in this house!
My daughter was adopted in January of 2004. My son was placed with me in November of 2004, he was 2 months old.
The reason he was in foster care was that his mother was sent to jail and then prison. His grandmother was able to take care of him for one night but was not able to continue to do so. I don't know much about his father other than what I've been told by his mother.
For visits, they would pick baby boy up and take him on an all day visit. A member of the county staff would arrive early in the morning and I would have baby boy and his necessities packed for the day. They drove about 2 hours up to Tacheedah, the women's prison in Wisconsin, so that baby boy could visit his mother. I can't recall anymore how long the visits were, a few hours at least, and then they'd drive 2 hours back home. This is a very long day for an infant... especially a very hard to console infant.
Baby boy would cry and cry and cry and we could never figure out why. If he wasn't sleeping or had a bottle in his mouth, he was crying. I take that back, if I took him for a ride in the car, he would stop crying. The problem with that is if there was a stop sign or stop light, he would begin crying the second the vehicle stopped moving. As I'm sure you could imagine, this was very, very difficult. He was taken to the doctor numerous times, they found no medical reason for the crying at all. This lasted a few months and he out grew it thankfully!
Visitation while in Foster Care
The prison visits went on for months. Each time he was picked up for a visit, I would smile and kiss him good-bye, turn around, shut the front door, watch the worker buckle him into her car and then break down in tears. The emotional toll of being a foster parent can be difficult. No matter how strong you are, you do break down once in a while.
A few times he would come back and end up with ringworm, easily treated. None of us had it and it recurred fairly soon after these visits.
His mother would write him letters and send drawings for him from prison. I would write her back and send photos of baby boy. It was really weird at first because she wasn't addressing me at all in the letters, but was addressing her infant son as if he was reading them.
His family and I really had no contact other than these letters considering she was imprisoned and he was nowhere to be found. I was informed the county was trying to find his father but he was on the run because he had messed up on probation and they were going to send him to jail. So instead of responding to the letters about his son, he was hiding to avoid going to jail.
Termination of Parental Rights
I attended the jury trial for the termination of parental rights for baby boy's mother and father.
His father never responded to any contact from the county, the judge terminated his rights with no trial.
His mother was contesting the termination of her rights and decided to take the option of having a trial by jury. The jury was to decide if the conditions exist, by law, to terminate her parental rights. The judge would ultimately decide if her parental rights were to actually be terminated.
This was very different than the termination hearing for my daughter, that hearing was a voluntary termination of parental rights. I attended all hearings, this was a very long process, multiple days in court. At times it was heart wrenching to watch the responses his mother gave on the stand, to see her facial expressions and read into her eyes as she sat behind the defendant's table in the court room. Regardless of how much you want to adopt this child and regardless of how much it would be in the child's best interests... you see these people, the child's family, and you feel for them, for what they are losing. I left many of these court hearings in tears.
The jury determined that the grounds to terminate her parental rights did exist, and another hearing without a jury was set for the judge to decide if he would or would not terminate her parental rights.
The day of court arrived, it was a very nerve wracking day. The end result was, the judge did involuntarily terminate her parental rights. Previous to his ruling, his mother had tried to change her mind and voluntarily terminate her rights. This wasn't allow and the court continued with the involuntary termination.
Baby boy was adopted in March of 2006 and became my son.
Release from Prison
The evening of his other mother's release from prison, my phone rang. It was her.
She was asking if it would be possible for us to set up a date to see baby boy. Considering after the adoption she had kept in touch through letters and was addressing me in them, and that I had kept up with photos, and also considering that I'm a strong believer in open adoption unless the circumstances involve something that would be harmful or dangerous.... I met her at the laundrymat she was at, which was only a few blocks away from my home, that evening.
I walked in with baby boy and I could see the happiness in her face upon being able to see and hold him again. We stayed and chatted for a short while and exchanged contact numbers. I'm not going to pretend it wasn't awkward, it definitely was. She & I only had contact in letters previous to this. I knew she wasn't dangerous, I had known why she was in prison and this first meeting was in a public place. We continued to have in person visits occasionally, most times in my home. Baby boy, Baby girl, and I attended her wedding. She's currently getting married a 2nd time and we were invited but had to decline unfortunately due to a previous commitment.
The level of openness in baby boy's adoption differs greatly from baby girl's.
Baby boy's other mother has our address & my cell number and can contact me at anytime should she choose to do so. We're also friends on facebook so she is able to view photo & video updates and has messaged me a few times on there.
While we don't often visit in person any longer, not purposefully, it's just how it worked out in this case, we do have the ability to contact each other when either party feels the need to reach out and connect. She went on to have two more children, as my kids got older, we got busier with life. We did live in the same town for a short while and ran into each other a few times. Baby boy has met his younger brother & sister. We ran into his other mother at the county fair last year. Baby boy was confused at first by this woman coming up to him since he didn't recognize her, but then you saw the realization wash over his face and he smiled and hugged her. It was an adorable scene.
She had asked my permission to share some photos of baby boy online with his other father. I said it was fine and appreciated being asked first. They sent back some photos of his entire extended family which I'm sure he will appreciate having in the future. I did show him the photo's, he showed interest and looked them over, then went on about playing with his transformers.
He does occasionally ask questions now that he's 7 years old. I answer to the best of my ability for his age level of understanding. Both of my children have known they were adopted since forever. I highly doubt they have one specific memory of being told they were adopted, it just has been a reality for them since they were very little.
A lot of people ask if I would do it again. Honestly, no.
The only reason that I say "no" is because of my age (I really don't think I can handle 3am feedings anymore lol) and the fact that I'm content with the family that I have now. I have realized my dream of becoming a mother, and it has made me happy beyond words.
My next dream is to get these 2 off to college, in say, about 11 years, and take up traveling. There's a lot of stuff out there that I want to see before I go, and I fully intend on making that dream a reality when the time is right. For now though, I'm enjoying being a mom and love every single experience with my children, even when the sibling rivalry rears its head in our household.