Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to adopt. However, my own reservations kept me from stepping forward. You see, I am single and had hoped that Mr. Right would come along and we would take this journey together.
In October 2009, I took my first step and spoke to an adoption social worker with MCFD.
In the Spring of 2010, I began the Adoption Education courses. As I immersed myself in the process, I became convinced I was on the right path. My home study began that Fall. The social worker explored just about anything and everything having to do with my life: how I was parented, how I planned to parent, how I had resolved any issues in my own life, and what supports I had in place. It was a time of self-reflection.
In March 2011, I got the call that would change my life forever. A girl named Marysha: age 12, in care since the age of two, had been in four foster homes, very sweet and loving, a smile that would melt the heart of a snowman, no behavioral concerns, someone who, when she attaches to you, will give you her heart forever. And . . . she has a diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
My heart was soaring and I couldn’t allow my fears of parenting a child with FASD to overshadow Marysha’s many wonderful qualities. A few days later, I called my social worker and told her I wanted to know more.
I can vividly recall the day I first met Marysha. She was 12 years old, so would have to consent to the adoption. I wanted to make a good first impression, so I tried to dress really fun and cool. It felt like I was going on a first date. My anxiety was high.
Visits with Marysha occurred with her former foster parents. We met at the park, bowling alley, their home or my home one or two times a week. In the beginning, I was not allowed to spend time alone with Marysha and my friends were not allowed to meet her. This step-by-step process of transitioning helped Marysha form an attachment to me.
Finally, after six weeks, the social workers met with Marysha to tell her of my desire to adopt her. The phone rang and I was given a detailed account of the meeting. What they told me next warmed my heart. They described her reaction to the news by stating, “She smiled from ear to ear.” My dream was becoming a reality, and on September 9, 2011, Marysha came home to live with me as my daughter.
Adoption is not for the faint of heart. If you choose to adopt, expect to have your life turned upside down. I am grateful for the support of my best friend (my cheerleader), the social workers (my external brain), and other adoptive parents (my kindred spirits). They provide me words of encouragement and hope when I possess very little.
I am delighted to share that this adoptive mother of one has since decided to adopt a second teenage girl. Of course, Marysha is excited as well and is longing for a sister to complete our family.
Despite all the heartache, there is something very fulfilling about adopting that can only be described as pure joy. Marysha is now 15 and has lived with me for three years. When I look into Marysha’s eyes, I am amazed at the love I feel for her. It has been a joy to watch her evolve, and I have evolved, too. Having her in my life has caused me to reflect on who I am as a mother, a friend, and as a professional. I am a better human being because of her.