Growing up, you see your parents’ “mistakes” in raising you, and you swear never to be like them. Then you become a parent.Suddenly you no longer see your parents as having made mistakes, rather they were surviving in the forever challenging world of parenthood.
I am a 28-year-old learning assistance teacher, who on December 28, 2009, became a single mother of a beautiful nine-year-old girl. I like to think I was prepared for this adventure. I read all the books I could get my hands on, heard other people’s adoption stories, asked my social worker every question imaginable, and have a ton of experience with children and special needs. I thought that by being a Learning Assistance Teacher I was prepared to deal with my new daughter’s needs. I deal with FAS and ADHD every day. How much more different could this be? Reactive Attachment just means she needs extra time to bond and adjust, right? Boy, was I wrong. Truth is, no courses, books, or advice could have properly prepared me for this challenging joy called parenthood.
I knew from the moment I read her adoption profile and saw her picture that she would be my daughter. I was ecstatic: this little girl was everything I could dream of! Our adoption pre-placement visits went well. Due to the distance between where she was living and my home, we saw each other for three weekends and talked on the phone every other night for three months. She took to me quickly and I to her. I cried each time we parted and counted the days until our next visit. Then, the day I had been waiting for finally came; it was time to bring my little girl home!
These first four months of our adoption placement have been a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. My daughter and I constantly flip between being in a “honeymoon” phase to full out testing, each cycle being much different than the last. I’ve had to deal with screaming while getting acquainted—challenges of early days that lasts for hours, hitting, kicking, throwing things, and lying. When I ask my daughter to do something, she’ll turn to look me in the eyes and say, “No!” Some days I have to do everything not to lose my temper, and to stay in control. This causes me to question myself, my choices and my ability to parent her.
But then, she gets hurt or is scared and I am the only one who can make it better. When she crawls onto my lap to cuddle, any doubts I have go away and I know, despite all the little challenges, this will work out. She is mine!
Other challenges pop-up just when things start sailing smoothly— like a relative giving her birthmom our mailing address and strangers making senseless comments about us not looking like mother and daughter, but we get through these too. I may not have the answer to all her questions, and people may not always understand our unique situation, but I know this is forever. I’ve gone from your average 28-yearold, out on weekends, shoe shopping and tea drinking, to play dates, cartoons, and Kool-Aid. And, the greatest word in the world has become Mom.