Foster Mom, Safety Parent, Kanga mom*. Those are some of the titles they give you. It’s what you signed up for. But those words do not describe everything that you do. People praise adoptive parents for “taking in someone else’s child and making them their own”, but you know what, so do you.
Just because you care for them temporarily does not mean you do not love them forever
I have had the privilege of meeting and getting to know some of you even before I met the one who was mothering my own daughter, and now the one who is mothering the child chosen to be my son. I saw your deep love for the children in your care. I heard how hard it is to let them go. I read of the tears that flow when it’s time to say goodbye. I see the absolute joy in your faces when you receive a precious one in your care. I feel the pain when they are not well. I understand the frustration when you have to wait in long queues for tests and immunisations and all the other things that come with being a mother of little children.
You cared for my children when I could not
Kanga mom (and kanga dad), you cared for my children when I could not. I was not there to rub their backs, to burp them, to rock them through the night. I wasn’t there to figure out which formula they were allergic to. I wasn’t the one realising that my child could not tolerate any formula whatsoever but only goat’s milk. I’m not the one who first saw the paediatrician about their eczema. I’m not the one who worried about their weight gain or lack thereof. I wasn’t there in the beginning to mother my child. But you were.
I also acknowledge your husbands and children. For many of you are married and have families too. I thank you and your families for loving our children when we could not. I thank you for all the kisses, the cuddles, the smiling faces you gave them. The more attached they are to you, the better it apparently is for us. And so, as hard as it is for me to hear you refer to your son as my littlest son’s brother (when I know that his brother is waiting for him to come home), I understand.
You are family – as transient and as fleeting as the physical bond may be
He will have no memory of you, but his memory will forever be with you. My son has learnt from you what brothers and sisters are. He may not understand those warm fuzzy feelings, but I see the smiles and laughter in the videos you send. You call yourself mom, a title I’d love to have. But he’s not in my arms, he’s in yours. He’s not in my home, he’s in yours. You are busy mothering him.
Today, family of my son, I thank you for loving him, nurturing him and being to him what I cannot be. I thank you for the pictures you send and the videos I receive. As painful as it is to see your lips on his little cheeks, I’m so grateful that there are lips on his cheeks. He knows what love is. And it’s all because of you.
The Woman who will mother your son forever
*a kanga mom is a temporary mom who takes care of a child during the “period of consent” (the 60-day period when a biological mother can change her mind about placing her child for adoption), or while a child is waiting to return to his or her biological family.