From Stranger to Daughter: A Story For the US Children's Bureau
A couple of weeks ago I spent two full days in a room with strangers. We were a group of foster parents chosen to participate in a national Foster Care Awareness Month campaign for the US Children’s Bureau. We wrote about our experiences in foster care, chose family photos, recorded our words, and created videos that told our stories.
We all laughed and cried as we watched each other's stories, and I immediately knew I wanted to share them with all of you. The videos will be released in May, but the words are the most powerful part. I hope you enjoy reading a few of our stories. Below is mine, weaved together from pieces I've written over the past year about my journey fostering and adopting one of my daughters.
To my daughter on the day of your adoption,
I’ve called you by that label, “daughter,” many times. But today is different.
Today there’s no prefix, no subtext, no “sort of but not really” as there have always been before. You’re not my foster daughter, I don’t love you “like you’re my own.” Today you are wholly, completely, for forever my daughter. Nothing is changing, but everything is changing.
I shook with nervous excitement as I opened the door to you the first time, my maybe-temporary, maybe-forever daughter. We were each other’s first “placement.” You had never known another mother, and I had never cared for a child I hadn’t first carried. You sat in the middle of my living room, looking too scared to even move. You clung to me with tear-filled eyes like your life depended on it, like some stranger would come and take you away from me, too. And my heart clung to you just the same, continually aware of the risk of loving you, continually aware that you may leave.
Every couple of months since you’ve entered our home, I’ve marveled at who you’re becoming, at how much you’ve grown. I’ve seen you overcome your fears and insecurities, seen you press into people rather than away from them, seen you progress and grow. I keep thinking you’ve “arrived” only to see you come even further. You continually amaze me.
I will always remember the day that you told me you loved me. You climbed on my lap, kissed me, and said those precious words. I returned the kiss and repeated the words, as I had so many times before. But this time I had tears in my eyes.
Over the past two years, I’ve watched the residue of your past neglect, which I thought would cling forever, wash away. You’ve become someone I never expected you to be.
This day, this adoption day, is one of the happiest days of my life. Today, I become your mother. Today, you become my daughter.
Happy Adoption Day, my dear daughter, I love you.