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Foster Care to Adoption My Daughter's Other Mother
Infertility & Deciding to Adopt
I spent the early part of my adulthood oblivious to the fact that I was unable to have a child of my own. I had married my first husband, knowing he was unable to have children and was fine with that at that time in my life. Towards the end of my first marriage, I discovered that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. While it's possible to conceive with PCOS, it's difficult to carry to term and I ended up having multiple, early miscarriages during my second, and and now third, marriage.
The emotions a person goes through when unable to bear a child are not really easy to describe. There were a few times around Christmas where I had put up all of the decorations, trimmed the tree and a few days later I was in tears, wondering "why me?" and throwing decorations against the wall, breaking them into pieces. I'd clean up the mess a few hours later and pack away the decorations until next year. This type of situation most likely occurred due to having PCOS which causes major hormone imbalances. The hormone imbalance can be, and is in my case, now controlled by medication.
During my second marriage, my mother saw an ad in a local paper about fostering to adopt. I thought, there's no way I could become a foster parent. Wouldn't the heartbreak of attaching to a child, a baby, be too difficult to bear if/when that child returned home at some point?
I thought over my options for awhile. I knew, with every piece of my soul that I desired to be a mother. I knew, that I could not mentally handle going through fertility treatments and wondering if this was the month it would work. I came to the conclusion that I could do this. I could foster to adopt and if the child returned home, I had provided a loving environment for them during a time when they and their family needed it.
My now ex-husband and I applied to be foster parents. We were approved! OMG this was becoming real. We had a neutral gender room set up and just waited for the call.
In May of 2003, I received that call. Would we be willing to take a little girl, 5 months old who had been removed from her mother's care? Of course, we said yes. I was in tears thinking that my dreams were actually becoming a reality! Finally, I was going to get to be a mother, a foster mother, and maybe only for a little while, but still a mother, and to a beautiful baby girl!
We drove up to Green Bay, WI that day to pick up this child from the group home that she had been living in with her mother. I'd found out some basic information. Her mom was a teen with a somewhat rough childhood. She'd been living in this group home and desired to go home and tried to leave with her baby. This is when the county decided to remove the baby from her care and place her into foster care.
I remember the very first visit the county set up for baby and her mom. Wow, was I nervous, a little scared, I was to do the transporting for baby girl. The visit was to take place on a Sunday at a local McDonald's with a supervisor present. I recall walking into the McDonald's with the baby and being greeted by the supervisor. Her mom ran over to take the baby and various extended family members were present. I couldn't wait to get out of there, it was so awkward! While I felt horrible for her mother, I also couldn't wait to pick baby girl back up.
You're sort of torn, you see this mom, who is a child herself with obvious love in her eyes for her baby, yet you've begun falling in love with this baby, her baby, as well. You're feeding her, playing with her, putting her to bed, changing diapers, you're bonding which is exactly what the child needs. You're doing all of this even though you're very well aware that this child is not yours, that at any time, she could be removed from your care and placed back with mom. You're doing this because this child NEEDS this during this time in their life and whether they believe so or not, so does the child's family.
Baby Girl's Mom
Her mom was all of 15 years old when she had baby girl. She had been involved with a man in his 30's when she became pregnant at the age of 14. This man did end up being charged with sexual assault of a child, was jailed, his parental rights to baby girl terminated, and then deported back to Mexico.
Baby girl's mothers name is Vanessa. Vanessa & I had a rough relationship in the beginning. We would see each other a few times a week on visit drop off and pick ups. She had supervised visits with a county worker and parenting coach. When we saw each other, we'd make conversation, I would provide many photos of baby girl every week, I wanted to share the things she was missing with her. It bothered me a lot to know what she was missing and I was experiencing with her baby. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the experiences with all of my heart, but there was always that little nagging feeling of how much her mom was missing out on. I was instructed by case workers to not talk with Vanessa. I did not understand how it would be possible to not talk to her. I wanted to speak to her, to know what happened. I felt for this girl and the situation her life had put her into. She really was just a child herself.
Regardless of what I was instructed, Vanessa & I developed a relationship. It was strained sometimes, other times easy. One evening she called me at home and said she had to ask me a question. She wanted to know if she gave up her parental rights to baby girl voluntarily, if we would agree to an open adoption. Of course, I didn't have to think twice! This girl, with all of the love she had for her baby, realized that she couldn't give her child what was needed at her young age and was giving me the chance to realize my dream of being a mother! We already had a fairly good relationship, we could do this, we could co-exist, both as mom, to this child.
Termination & Adoption
I attended the termination of parental rights hearing for Vanessa. This court hearing ripped my heart out. My friend, the mother of my soon to be daughter, was heart-broken, in tears, terminating her parental rights on the stand. As soon as court was over, I went to her, and we walked down the hallway, outside of the courthouse together. This is a moment that I will never forget in all of my life. To see the pain she went through in that room to give her daughter a life that she knew she was not able to do.
In January of 2004, baby girl became my daughter by adoption. Vanessa didn't attend this hearing and I wouldn't have expected her to do so.
My dream of being a mother had become a reality.
Baby Girl & Mama Nessa
Vanessa - My Daughter's Other Mother
Vanessa and I continued on with our relationship. We ended up being like sisters, she came to me for guidance and support as you would with an older sibling. We went shopping, out to eat, she'd come over just to hang out in the yard with baby girl and I. We'd talk or text daily, sometimes multiple times a day and see each other a couple of times a week.
Baby girl started talking... she called me mommy and Vanessa was known as mama nessa. I enjoyed sharing baby girls milestones with Vanessa. The things that I found to be most amazing, even now, are the things that you don't realize are genetic. Baby girl and Vanessa are so identical in appearance. They walked the same, made similar hand gestures, silly faces, I still notice these things to this day.
Vanessa went on to have another child, a boy this time. He was born in October of 2006. After he was born, we drifted apart a little, she was busy with her new son and I understood that. Unfortunately, her son then ended up in foster care and I received a call very late at night asking if I would take him since I was still a foster parent and Vanessa requested that they call me if they were removing him from her care. Of course, I accepted. She needed me and I was going to be there for her. Between the time of adopting baby girl and accepting the placement of baby girl's brother, I had adopted a baby boy through foster care.
So at that time, I was mom to two children, ages 3 and 2 and foster mom to baby girl's practically newborn brother. I ended up getting very ill and taking care of a newborn wasn't possible and Vanessa's son was moved to respite care until I was well enough to take care of him again. He was there for quite awhile, I believe around 6 weeks before I began feeling better again and had developed a bond with his respite foster family considering his young age. It was an extremely hard decision but I decided that it would be in his best interests to let him stay with that foster family and not break that bond that is so important when they're infants.
Instead, I set out on helping Vanessa be the mother I knew she could be, we were going to get her son home again. I sold some electronics and took a bit of savings and bought her a car. It was nothing to look at, but was safe to drive (my ex was a mechanic so he made sure of this). She required a car to find a job, she lived far from town and had no transportation.
I took her to the DMV and let her use my vehicle to get her first driver's license. I encouraged her to either go to school to realize her desire to become a nurse or find a job so she could support her son. She tried to ask me one time to adopt her son, I didn't want to hear it, she was giving up when I knew she really didn't want to give up. I knew her, she wanted to be a mother to her son. I kept encouraging her, I knew she could and wanted to do this.
In June of 2007 she found a job, she was set to start the next week. She'd been doing well on visits with her son in her own home, unsupervised. He was coming home July 1st!! We did it, we actually were getting him out of foster care and back with Vanessa where he belonged!
Vanessa never got to start her new job, her son never got to return home.
On June 9th, 2007, Vanessa was brutally murdered while visiting friends.
Missing Mama Nessa
I was called the morning of June 10th, 2007 by a caseworker informing me of Vanessa's murder. I had read a headline about a murder earlier that morning online, but didn't click into the story. That story was about the murder.
Have you ever had to try to explain death to a 4 year old? It's very difficult, how do you explain to a 4 year old that their other mom is gone, forever. Since Vanessa was such a huge part of our lives, I explained it the best that I could at the time. Now that baby girl is 9 years old, she will occasionally ask more questions. Thankfully, I have a lot of answers for her since Vanessa & I had such a close relationship.
Baby girl & I attended Vanessa's viewing and her funeral. I cannot even begin to explain how difficult this was, how much it hurt, she was taken from this world suddenly, brutally, and at the young age of 19.
Vanessa's son was still in foster care. A case worker contacted me and asked if I would sit by the foster mother at the viewing since she was not that comfortable around Vanessa's family. I agreed and also spoke with his foster mom on the phone a few times afterwards.
I was offered the opportunity to adopt Vanessa's son after her death since I had adopted his sister previously. I spoke to his foster mother a few times and made the decision to leave him to be adopted by his current foster family. There was not only the issue of not breaking the bond between them, but many valid personal reasons which I won't get into here. His foster mom assured me that she would send us a photo every once in awhile in email and eventually meet at a park or something so that my daughter and her son could at least know each other. I recommended the adoption agency we had used when she asked for the recommendation. She emailed some photos and he appeared happy and taken care of. I was content in knowing that we'd be able to have at least some minimal contact.
SHE. DID. NOT. LIVE. UP. TO. HER. END.
No matter what her possible excuse could be for this, I find it immoral and unforgivable that she has denied my daughter the opportunity to have even a minimal relationship with her brother. I don't understand and will never understand how sending a few photo's a year through email could have hurt or interfered with their lives in any way.
She adopted Vanessa's son and was never heard from again. It's disappointing, in knowing that she realized her dream of adopting, yet lied to achieve her dream. It's hard to have my daughter ask questions about her brother, only to have no answers for her as to why this woman chose to not allow them to have a relationship. Karma has a way of correcting these types of things. I guess some people are insecure about wanting a child to themselves and pretending they had no history prior to adoption.I do know his new name and various other information and will provide that to my daughter so that she is able to find him when they're adults if she should choose to do so.
Comparison Photo of Baby Girl & Vanessa
A Very Long Story
My daughter has total access to her biological family. They can help with answering questions about her other mother.
My third husband is my daughter's biological uncle, now step-father. I realize it sounds a bit "jerry springer-ish" but it really is not. My 2nd husband was a person who was never there, a work-a-holic. If you looked up work-a-holic in the dictionary, his photo would be beside the definition. My life was like a single working from home, mother of 2 small kids, with an extra paycheck. The kids and I did everything without the ex because he was never there.
My current husband was coming around to visit baby girl after his sister's murder, and well, things happened... love happened.
We're a very loving, happy family.
This was much more difficult to write about than what I expected.
We still miss Vanessa daily and I imagine that we always will.
Our daughter is growing up and is gorgeous, she looks very much like her other mother. Sometimes that's really hard, you look at her and you see Vanessa, which brings the pain of her loss back to the front of your mind, other times, it's very comforting.
My hope is that the woman baby girl turns into, makes myself and her other mother, extremely proud of the girl we have both raised.