My sons are birth brothers, and they were placed in my home when they were 12 and 16. Unfortunately, their childhoods were splattered with trauma starting from the time they were born. Their birth parents met when they were both foster children themselves.
Once in my home, it didn’t take long before they both started having major behavior issues. My younger son bounced between treatment facilities and home. It took three rounds of foster care before we were able to solidify his adoption after he turned 17. And Jacob, my older son, was moved into a group home for children with disabilities due to his permanent developmental delays. He remained in that program until he graduated from school when he was 21. I have never seen him smile so bright as when my husband and I attended his graduation. At 21, he still didn’t take having parents for granted, and a part of him hadn’t believed that we would show up.
My relationship with Jacob is pretty amazing considering that he only lived with me for a year before he moved into group care. Because he wasn’t adopted, I had little control over the decisions that were made on his behalf. The four years he was in group care seemed like forever as we tried to maintain a long distance relationship with him through phone calls and visits. We had our share of crazy long road trips and bus terminals. I was constantly challenged with how to build attachment with a teenage boy being raised by staff five hours away. On top of that, Jacob is only fourteen years younger than I am, and nearly 300 lbs--how could I rationalize trying to be his mom? But the way to Jacob’s heart was caring for and loving his younger brother. He saw me stick it out through some tough times with my younger son. I know that my commitment to his brother helped earn Jacob’s trust as he transitioned into adulthood. It has been such a relief for Jacob knowing that he doesn’t have to watch over his brother alone.
Jacob moved back with me after his graduation--a pivotal reminder that a kid is never too old to need a family. Despite some major developmental delays, Jacob was motivated to move out on his own and work almost full-time for the past three years. He has had his challenging moments--times when he wanted to push me away, make unwise choices, and when he struggled with his fear of attachment and feelings of disconnection. But he always came around.
At 25, Jacob came back home again for a few months this fall before he transitioned into a housing program. Every time he is home, we’re given a new opportunity for connection. We had some hard talks about adulthood, responsibility, boundaries and what it means to be in a family--we’re all still learning. But the time and investment we put in with each other, reinforcing our attachment, is so worth it. Last week he said to me, “I’m glad I met you. I’m glad you adopted my brother and stuck with us. You’ve always been my mom.” What a sweetheart! I adopted one kid and got the best two-for-one deal ever.
Is Adoption for you? Call FCNI at 805-781-3535 and talk to Bekah to see if the answer is yes.