In 2012, I was single and living alone in Arlington, VA. My mother called and asked if I was able to share my home with my homeless cousin and his two children. At first, I thought it would be a temporary situation until he was able to find somewhere to live. Over time I learned a lot about my cousin that I didn't know well because he is almost 20 years my senior. There was a history of drug abuse, neglect, foster care, CPS, abandonment, homelessness. You name it, these innocent children had experienced it; I had no idea.
Over time I grew closer and closer to my younger cousins, Jason and Maria. As I grew closer, I also grew more protective. The last time their dad abandoned them ended up being the last time he would be able to abandon them.
In the beginning of the transition, Jason and Maria didn't do so well. They had many emotional ups and downs, health issues, behavior issues, etc. They were happy to have somewhere safe and warm to live, but they missed their parents beyond belief. The first couple of years were harder because they were allowed visits. It drained all of us mentally and emotionally. As much as I didn't want to, because I too was a ward of the state growing up, I had to depend on the department for support and guidance.
When it came time to let the children know I was adopting them, I did it with their therapists. They had already known about their parents not being able to take them back, and they were fine with it.
On adoption day I was excited!!! My specialist Tamaira and my placement coordinator Vellma were in court with us along with a close friend and two of my sisters. The judge was happy to be finalizing the adoption in front of us with the children there, and I thought they would be excited; but again they didn't care! I thought it was hilarious!
After court I asked the kids if they wanted to go out or miss school and have fun, and they both said “No.” They wanted to go to school and have lunch, and they'd just see me after school. If I were a 10- or 11-year-old and it were my adoption day, I'd be stoked; but my kids knew that I was home and would forever be home, so they wanted to be with their friends for the rest of the day!
It has truly been a blessing to be a mother to these children, and no they aren't perfect, but neither am I. I love to see how they've grown in size and confidence. In the beginning I used to look at the pictures I'd take and pity them. Now I look at the pictures and wonder where the time went.
Connection and belonging are human needs. There are many children and youth in Virginia awaiting adoption. Learn more about Foster Care and Adoption. If you are interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent, send an email.
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