October 26, 2010 by greenhouse04
I had a dream several weeks ago that I had a baby. I was holding and cuddling and loving this darling tiny child, feeling so proud that I was finally a mother. But I soon realized something was wrong – this baby wasn’t real. It was a doll. In my dream my heart sank with disappointment and shame, but I continued to love and hold the fake baby.
I woke the next morning with the dream still vivid in my mind. And I knew exactly where it came from.
Being a foster parent is hard. Being a foster parent while at the same time hoping a praying for your own child – either biological or adopted – is really hard. Perhaps idiotic. You have to manage your own hopes for a child, your love for the child(ren) you are currently parenting, your desire for their best, the inconvenient dreams of “what if I get to keep this child,” and the reality that you probably won’t get to keep them.
Mr. and I went into foster care with the hope of one day adopting a foster child. We cared for Jake and Ellie for 6 months, and now they are home. We’re now caring for Eddie, and it looks like he’ll be going home eventually, too. I love being a parent while I have the children, but one day it ends. They go to their real home. They return to their real mommy.
I am not their real mommy. They are not my real children. Sometimes I feel like I’m just pretending. They are my “doll” children, not my real children.
Its disappointing, painful, and yes, shameful. I want real children. I want to be someone’s real mommy.
I’ve been struggling with this since last week. When we first got Eddie almost 3 weeks ago, we were told he may become adoptable eventually. He is a sweet, sweet child, and I allowed myself to imagine our future together as a happy little family. But then we went to the Case Plan Meeting, and met this real family. It was obvious that he and his mother have a very close bond, and that she is going to do everything she can to get him back. And I have little doubt that she will, and that they need to be together.
But selfishly, this did not make me happy. For the next few days my motivation to care for Eddie dropped. He’ll never be mine, after all, he’ll never love and trust me like he does his real mom, so why should I bother? I became a little depressed and angry.
But then just the other night I had an epiphany. It didn’t come with flashes of light, or after long, emotional contemplation and prayer. It just came to me as I lay in bed thinking.
I’m a unique kind of mom.
No, I’m not what you’d call a real mom – I don’t have any children that are legally my own. But I’m a mom that stands in the gap for kids. A mom that gives them a home and a mother during a time that they’re without both. There are lots of “real” moms out there – some who love their role as mom and some who do it because they have to. But there aren’t many foster moms. We’re a rare and special brand of mom.
As I say this, I’m smirking through my tears. I sound awfully arrogant! But this realization has given me new purpose and energy for what I’m doing. I can feel proud that I’m a foster mom, even though I don’t have any “real” children. I don’t have to be ashamed of my lot in life.
Its funny – I had another dream the day after I had this epiphany. In this dream, Mr., little Eddie, and I visited some friends with two small children. And I was proud – proud of our little foster boy, proud to be a foster mom. I wasn’t pretending to be a mom with a fake baby anymore – I was just as real a mom as my friend.