This past May, we adopted our son from foster care. He has been in our care his whole life – they called me within minutes of his birth to see if we could foster him for a while. Days turned into weeks, weeks into years until he was adopted at 2½ years old. There was another special woman in his life who had been there in the beginning – his birth mom. We met after a few days of him living with us, we wrote letters and had a few quick phone calls here or there while I fostered him, but things were super awkward. We never quite knew how to end the conversation. We always had so much more to say to each other, but we could never found the words – until the adoption was final.
I wasn’t sure what our relationship would look like after the adoption went through. I was so concerned his birth mom would be hurt that we changed his name or would be upset that we wanted to adopt him. And she was. She was hurt that I changed his name, and I know (because she told me) that she was upset we adopted him. She wasn’t mad at me, she was just frustrated. Instead of running away from these feelings, I asked her about them and we talked about it. I couldn’t solve them, but I heard her hurt and allowed her to feel these things. I created a safe place for her, because she’s my son’s other mom.
She loves her son, and I have never once questioned that. She has made mistakes, just as I have, and made choices that resulted in them not being able to live together anymore. But she loves him to pieces. I see her light up each time we come to visit, I hear her deep love for him in the encouraging words she says to me about the way we are raising him, and I feel it in her arms when she hugs me each time we have to head home.
A judge decided she couldn’t raise him, so my husband and I are happy to, but there isn’t a time I wish I were his birth mom. She has taught me so much about understanding, thankfulness and love. We definitely didn’t start this process as friends, but after many hours of chatting and being together over the past nine months we truly are. It has been an honor to watch her raise her sweet, healthy baby boy, and I am filled with joy each time she calls for advice or with questions. I never imagined we would have such a precious relationship.
Sometimes it is awkward and sometimes it is hard to be motivated to make time to be together, but each time we do, I am so glad we did. I always thought that if a child had two families – a birth family and an adoptive family, the child’s love would be divided between the two. I thought the child would have to pick sides and choose whom to love more. Instead, I have come to realize that having two families has multiplied the love. There are more hugs, more stories and more opportunities for our son to feel loved. It will not be easy to continue this relationship. We will disagree, hurt each other and make mistakes, but I hope we can always keep an open line of communication and make it work, because we will always have our precious son in common.
– Jill Ng, licensed foster parent