A Foster Parent with a Huge Heart for Her Sons
May is National Foster Care Month —a time to renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care and celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Today’s special Guest Blog Post is written by Lisa DeMarco who I attended East Brunswick High School with. Lisa and her husband Rich own The Bird House on Rt. 18 (East Brunswick, NJ) and live in Monroe Township.
“Yes, all three boys are my children.” I have contemplated buying a shirt that says this statement in bold letters right across the front of it. The question preceding this answer seems to be a popular one for my family, especially after people see my oldest son and how much he looks like my husband. I am a 38 year old mother of three wonderful children. My son Jared is seven years old, Micah is three and our youngest, Noah, is two.
My husband and I always dreamed of someday adopting and when Jared turned four we began the process through the New Jersey foster care system. I should probably mention that we are a Caucasian family. It proves relevant later on. After nine months of waiting patiently, our family was matched with a beautiful 14 month old boy, my son Micah! I can still remember the first time I saw him. It was an instant love and a feeling I will never forget. Within a year we were contacted about another child, Noah, who completed our family.
As you may have predicted, Micah and Noah are African American. I remember a class my husband and I had to take through the state to be certified as foster-adoptive parents. The instructor made a statement that at the time seemed insignificant but now holds a totally different meaning. She said there is a difference in saying “My child is adopted rather than my child was adopted.” She also said to prepare for comments and questions that others may have. I thought I understood this completely and I was confident that I was prepared for anything. I quickly learned the harsh boldness of strangers — and their statements were definitely unanticipated.
“Where are they from?” … “What was wrong with their mother?” … “They are very lucky kids!” “They are black” … “Are you going to tell them they were adopted?” … “You are brave” … “Are they real brothers?’” … “People like their mother should have their tubes tied” … “You didn’t want a girl?” … “Oh, are they special needs?”… And my favorite … “How much did that cost you?”
“They are from heaven” … “I am their mother!” … “They are not lucky, I am the lucky one” … “Yes, I realize they are African American” … “I am not brave, I am blessed” … “Yes, all three boys are real brothers!” … “I think they will know they are adopted” … “If their biological mother didn’t give birth to them, they wouldn’t be here with me today!” … “I love my sons” … “No, they are not special needs!” … “They cost me nothing but love.” Though these replies were never what they wanted to hear, they were my typical answers. People want a good story, they want to hear a tragic tale of their biological mother’s life. They want to know if my two little ones were related, not the answer I gave — that all three of my children are brothers. These are my children, not new shoes I just purchased!
As time goes on it has gotten easier to answer these rude comments and questions, or maybe I am just used to the ignorance that seems to be the world around me. I often now just pretend I did not hear the horrific question or comment that had just been directed to me. It seems to convey my disinterest more effectively. The fact of the matter is that adoption is a wonderful way to enhance and expand a family. It brought more joy to my family’s life than I could have ever imagined. Since becoming a foster-adoptive parent three years ago, I have joined a volunteer group, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), and I am now a trustee for the Foster and Adoptive Family Services Foundation. The Foundations mission is to support FAFS, allowing them to provide resources, training and services to foster, adoptive and kinship families that provide safe, nurturing and stable homes for foster children.
I am a proud mother of three wonderful boys! So when you see me, ask me about my sons — ask me about the adoption process and my experiences and ask me how happy our family now is. Take the time to see us as a family. Realize that we are family that belongs together, despite our different races and ethnicities. I will openly share the stories of my children and explain the gratitude that I have towards their biological mother. I will smile when I tell you that when my boys grow up they will all know how they each came to be with me in their own special way. I hope you see me as I see myself-as the most fortunate mother of three in the world .