Since my mommy-hood journey began almost 5 years ago, there are a ton of special times with my babies that I recognize, acknowledge and share with you guys. But occasionally something very special happens with someone else’s child that sparks the same enthusiasm. A few years ago my mother and brother became licensed foster parents. The idea was that they would support each other and be each other’s respite for the children in care. Our family has become all too familiar with being heavily involved in the lives of those they care for during their short stay. Then after about a year or so, we say our goodbyes and pray for their future well being. It’s a revolving door and one that creates some complicated relationships and understanding by all those involved.
“How come so and so doesn’t live with their own mommy,” Morgan asks. “Why does so and so have to leave? Will I ever see so and so again?” And then of course weeks after their departure, “where’s so and so?” I try my best to answer her questions in hopes of softening the blow, but with each child that leaves, there’s a void. But last week something I never thought would happen…happened. One of the boys we have grown to love became a permanent fixture.
TJ was a tall, skinny, quirky brown skin high school freshman that was placed in my brother’s care a little over two years ago. He was quiet, loved to dance and had manners. He didn’t care too much for school, but was as smart as a whip. To tell the truth he had a funny way of making himself invisible especially in a room full of people. And although he didn’t say much, he watched everything. As time passed and children came and went, TJ stuck around. I never heard about any trouble in school, no suspensions, he pulled his grades up and helped out anyway he could.
He’s a good kid. But even with all that, I was a little taken aback when my single younger brother asked my husband and I how we would feel if he adopted TJ. I wouldn’t be me or a good big sister without posing the dozens of questions that followed. What would this mean exactly? Why now, he’s 17? Where’s his family? What does he think about this? What’s his future plans? What is his expectations of me and on and on I went. But in all the questions I asked remained an uncanny respect and admiration for my brother’s decision to adopt.
Last week our entire family attended my first ever adoption party. It’s a celebration given by the adoption agency recognizing the child and their new support system. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. I felt a little out of my element. I mean what’s the protocol? Are we suppose to bring a gift for TJ, give him a copy of the family crest or prepare a few words of encouragement? Are we suppose to dress up, will we be asked to take pictures, can we bring our children? I mean it’s not the sort of function you can really prepare for….and I didn’t. We just showed up and it was great.
Four African American children had been adopted, two females and two males. Our TJ was the oldest. It was a laid back function, not a lot of fanfare, but an awful lot of tears; happy tears and dynamic stories of each child and each adoptive parent. In it all, I am grateful for our new addition. I look forward to bonding with TJ as my nephew and building our very own unique relationship. And to him I say in my best stereotypical old Italian mob boss voice “welcome to the family.”