I struggle to write this follow up post because where we’re at now, well… sucks. I can say with full confidence, however, that despite it all (“it all” = the truly challenging bits and bouts) I would not undo any of it. I find that important to say over and over to myself, our daughter, our family and friends, and anyone considering fostering/adopting because it’s true. And while I know it’s true, it’s still a barrier for entry for me in thinking about future children. Will I want out? The answer is obvious: yeah, sometimes you will. But mostly you’ll want in and you’ll never regret it. I digress, but it’s a FAQ for foster parents so I went with it.
Our daughter “moved out” the week that she was adopted. I use quotes because she was 17 and it was technically, legally, running away. It was a tough period. We’d file missing persons reports, make reasonable attempts at finding out if she was alive every day, locate her, get her home, and then repeat that endlessly until she turned 18 five months later. We later learned that during that time she would stay at a biological family member’s house until that arrangement didn’t work anymore and then she was on to the next family member’s home. At one point she was living in a car behind our home with her physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend. His name ironically? Romeo.
One morning I got a very alarming phone call from T because Romeo was beating her and not letting her leave the apartment that they were living in with his sister and niece. After figuring out where she was (an hour’s drive away from our home) I decided to get in my car and go get her. By the time I got there the police had arrived and she was in the back of an ambulance. She was clinging to the one possession we’ve known her to always have: her late biological dad’s camera. It was the one thing she grabbed from all her belongings which Romeo had thrown in the apartment complex dumpster and courtyard. I have a visceral reaction writing this. This wasn’t the time that she left him, but it was a time that bonded us – mother and daughter. We went to the police station to try and sort something out (the details don’t matter) and she said to me, “Mom, I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone but you.”
I think she lasted a grand total of two weeks back in our home before she couldn’t take it anymore (and by “take it any more” I mean accept the love and support from safe parents in a home with reasonable expectations) and she bounced. From then on she was in and out of our home till Christmas time last year. Because of an incident that occurred over the holidays we had to make the executive decision that our home was no longer a place that she could stay (again, details don’t matter). That was tough. It’s never an easy decision putting your kid out when you know they have no where to go. I had to steel myself to bear it.
She’s currently living with her biological mother not too far from where we are. Up until about two months ago we had semi regular, healthy contact with her and I soaked up the moments as I knew they were precious and not longstanding. Most recently she’s made a discovery about a parenting choice of ours and I imagine she’s feeling betrayed. She’s using said discovery as proof to justify her narrative of they-don’t-love-or-want-me and at best that has exhausting results for both her and us. We’ve decided to batten the hatches, not take the bait, and wait for the storm to pass. It always does. Some storms last longer than others, but I anxiously await for the phone call with the tender voice on the other end of the line saying, “Mom… I miss you… I’m sorry.”
I’m tempted to run interference for her feelings of betrayal, but I do myself and T better service in taking the role of observer. I’ve never felt responsible, nor positioned to interrupt the trajectory of her life. Of course I do not want her to suffer, but it’s not my duty to rescue her from her past, nor could I even if I wanted to. I’m here, when she’s ready again to accept the safe support of a loving momma.