December 11, 2010

The one that came between

My youngest child will probably not have concrete memories of her birth mother.  Today we are 9 1/2 months into a lifetime of making memories together with me as her forever mother.  And while I'm the one she will have permanent memories of, I will do all I can to help her keep memories of the one that came between the woman who gave her life and me alive. 

Not so long ago though, this relationship would have intimidated me.

Or actually, it did intimidate me.  Take for instance the very first time foster mommy was mentioned as language skills developed.

"I miss foster mommy.  I want her."

There it was.  Spoken in tears.  I was just getting to the point that I felt we were really making progress in our developing mother/daughter relationship and she was asking for someone else.  What was I going to do with it?

Pretend I didn't hear?  Deny my daughter one part of her past that she actually does remember?

Or do what was harder and encourage her remember?  Do my part to help make foster mommy a part of who my little girl is?

There was likely a time that I would have swept discussions about a foster mother under the rug and forgotten about them.  Even at that time I was uncertain what approach to take.  But I could see in my little girl's eyes that she truly loved this woman who cared for her from the time she was four months old until just shy of her third birthday.  I felt that for her, I needed to honor that love. 

Then about four months after we came home, I comprehended the depths of her love for her foster mother for the first time one day at rest.  Of my three children, she is the only one that needs you to be out of the room in order to fall asleep.  A few minutes after I had kissed her forehead, I heard muffled crying and went back to check on her.  When I asked her what was wrong, she said, "I no find foster mommy!" and burst into sobs.  I stood for a second, glued to my spot, unsure of how to respond.  But then I looked at her pitiful, tear stained face and it was enough to kick me into action.  We searched high and low for her pink photo album that has several treasured pictures of her foster mother.

When I finally found the coveted book under her bed, she smiled, hugged the book tight, closed her beautiful little eyes, and fell asleep without even opening the book.  It was as if simply the presence of those pictures were enough.

That sealed the deal.  I vowed then and there to help my little one remember the woman that had raised her in her tender years.

After all, I will forever be grateful for the start foster mommy gave my daughter.  Because of her consistent care, my daughter was able to experience love and began to trust and grow.  Foster mommy is not someone to be viewed as competition, but rather someone that helped shape my precious girl into the loving, considerate person she is. 

And from that time on, when she randomly has a 'foster mommy moment' as we call them, I stop and try to jog her memory.  I ask questions.  I listen.  I don't change the subject.  Even when she tells me that she misses foster mommy and that she loves her very much.

Because our last conversation about foster mommy ended something like this.

D ~ "I really miss foster mommy."

Me ~ "I know you do honey."

D ~ "I love foster mommy.  I always love foster mommy."

Me ~ "I'm glad that you loved her.  And it is okay for you to always love her sweetie."

D ~ "Thank-a-you Mommy"

(big smile.  pause, almost long enough that I thought the conversation was over)

D ~ "And Mommy?"

Me ~ "Yes?"

D ~ "I love you too Mommy."

From now on, I'll continue to encourage my girl to talk about her foster mother, because in doing so, I've learned a very important lesson.  There's room in her heart for both of us...


  1. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful post!
    Thanks for sharing such tender moments!

    I, too, am forever grateful to Shea's foster mommy. She, the 'in-between' momma gave to my girl so much...

    I know my daughter was well-loved by her foster mommy. I know this because of Shea's ability to love me...she knew love that is why she can love me!

    God bless all these amazing foster mothers!

  3. Oh, this brings out a wealth of emotions in my heart. I am new to being a foster mom. Our little guy came to us almost starved to death out of an orphanage.It's been a very intense experience as he has learned how to trust, how to sleep, how to eat. We have believed from the beginning that the best way we could love him would be to find him a forever family.
    We love him fiercely. It pains me to think of the day that he will not be with us. I would never want to interfere with his new life with his new family but I would hope that the love we have for him would be honored. We are doing all we can to make him ready for a family, including teaching him how to love.

  4. can.completely.relate.

    have you seen my latest blog post?

  5. Kristi - we are soooo Blessed to have contact with our son's foster family in China - and so Blessed that they refer to Marie and I as their brother and sister - their son referes to us as an Aunt and Uncle....

    We also had a chance to meet and let our oldest adopted daughter meet her foster mom in Korea last year - such joy at that meeting!!

    thanks for respecting your daughter's history - her story - it's something that will always be her's - and making it a treasure is a great gift!

    hugs - aus and co.

  6. So wonderful that she has such beautiful memories of her foster mama! And I know that by allowing her to continue to discuss her love for her foster mother, you are telling her that you love ALL of her... just the way she is :)