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The Day He Came Home

My 7 year old son came to live with me permanently after we had spent time visiting over a one month period. I wanted to do two things – take the edge off the awkwardness of those first moments and address some of the concerns I had heard directly and indirectly during the month we had visited. He had been in pre-adoptive homes that didn’t work out so I know he didn’t believe this move was permanent.

When we walked in, I asked him to come into the living room to sit on big pillows so we could do something special.  I helped him light two candles. Then I handed him a piece of paper that had the words “Coming Home.” We each had something to read. He went first and I helped him with the words he didn’t know.

“My name is Jamie. I am 7 years old and today I am moving into my forever home with my forever family. Cleo will be my forever cat.  Becca’s parents will be my forever grandma and grandpa. Becca will be my mommy forever. She will take care of me, feed me, play with me, and help me when I’m sick. She will buy me clothes and toys, hug me, cuddle me, and give me attention. Even if I feel angry or say I want to leave and live with someone else, this will always be my home and Becca will always be my mommy. I will try to listen to her. Even if I do not listen to her sometimes, she will still be my mommy.  I will try to do good things. Even if I do bad things, this will still be my home forever and Becca will still be my forever mommy.”

My part echoed his part with a couple of additions: “Wherever I live will be Jamie’s home, too. Even when he grows up and wants to have his own place to live, this will always be his home. I will be his forever mommy and he will be my forever son.”

When Jamie came over to spend the night once before, he asked if the furniture would be his and the kitchen would be his. So after he blew out the candles and we hugged, we walked through the house. As we walked through I started to say, this is now “your” living room. He corrected me and said that this was now “our” living room, which was even better. We walked through the whole house doing this.  Every time we went out and walked back into the house he wanted us to read our parts, again. If anyone came to visit, he wanted us to read our parts for them.

When Jamie came to live with me, I knew my life would change, I just didn’t know how much.  His first week at home was during a school vacation.  Beginning my life as a single parent with a child 24/7 for 9 days was exhausting.  I have never been an early morning person and he wanted breakfast very early.  I’d stagger downstairs and we’d sit and have breakfast while I tried to wake up.

And he expected to be entertained from morning until he fell asleep at night.  It was a bit overwhelming and I was running on empty at times. I had no idea becoming a mother overnight would be so tiring and challenging. I got a bit of a break when Jamie would take a bath. He would sit in the bathtub every night and pretend to blow things up. At least he didn’t pee in a shampoo bottle the way he did in the last pre-adoptive home he was in.

I was so grateful when I got to take him to school for the first time. Being self-employed, I thought I’d go home and get some work done. I got home and collapsed. I had survived the first week.

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Before He Came Home part 1

When I turned 28 I decided if I wasn’t married by the time I turned 35, I would adopt children. 35, single, and wanting to be a mother, I started to go to informational sessions at different agencies. Since I had my own business and had to work, I was looking to adopt a young child who could go to school instead of an infant.  I also wanted to adopt siblings so I asked a woman at one of the organizations if the fee charged was higher.  Her reply, “Yes, if the children are desirable,” broke my heart.  Every child is desirable and deserves a home. Some agencies made me feel undesirable since children “deserved” two parents. Undaunted, I kept going until I found a place that accepted and respected me.

I met with a social worker who did my home study. Contrary to what many people experience, I loved the process. It helped me clarify what problems I felt prepared to handle and which children might be a good fit for me.  The social worker also held group sessions with other prospective adoptive parents and that was very helpful, too. They made me feel more prepared to be a mother.

I went to adoption events and was bombarded by social workers who saw me as a desirable match for some of the available children.  I was glad my home study helped me clarify what I could and could not handle so I could set appropriate boundaries. One day my social worker called and told me there was a seven year old boy I might want to consider. I came to the agency to learn about him and felt she was right. I agreed to meet him only after I had decided to adopt him. I did not want him to feel he was auditioning. I knew he had a lot of issues but I felt I could handle them.

The afternoon I met him I came home and decided to eat a bagel for dinner. In my excitement, I sliced my finger and had to go to the emergency room for stitches. Imagine how embarrassed I was when I told the doctor it happened while I was cutting a bagel.  It was even worse when I admitted it was a fresh bagel not hard or frozen.  At least he and the nurse got a laugh out of it!

For the next month, I spent more time with my soon-to-be-son. We went to McDonald’s.  He spent a night at my house.  It all seemed too easy until the last visit before he moved in with me permanently.  We went to Kmart to buy him a coming-home shirt. When we got there, he said he wanted a toy not a shirt. I told him it was a shirt buying trip not a toy buying trip.  He sat down in an aisle and refused to move. After half an hour of discussion, I told him we were leaving. He said he was going to stay and live in Kmart. I told him even if he really wanted to; people were not allowed to live in Kmart.

I grabbed his hands and he got up pretty easily. I led him out of the store while he screamed.  When we got to the car, he pulled his jacket over his head. I buckled him in and we sat there while I talked. I asked him if he was afraid of coming to live with me.  I told him I was scared, too, because I hadn’t been a mother before. After about 10 minutes, the jacket came off over his head and he said,” Okay, let’s go.” I guess he wanted me to see the worst before he moved in.

During that month of visiting, he directly and indirectly told me everything he was worried about. I decided when I brought him home I would use that information when we walked into the house together, but that is another story. To be continued…

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