Childless Mothers – The Beauty & Grief of Being a Foster Mom

Jason Johnson, foster care, Elaina Avalos,

What makes a woman a mother?

Is it biology? I mean, yes. Duh.

But it’s more than that. Sometimes we are loved best by those who don’t share a single tie to us biologically. We’ve come up with a term for it – framily.

Sometimes a mom by biology doesn’t want to be or is not capable of being a mom.

I’m a mom. I was a mom. “My” boy isn’t with me anymore. But I love him fiercely and always will. Today, in this quiet house void of noise, chaos, and without the boy mess left in his wake, I fight for the words to express the love, loss, grief, and the hope I fight to find.

Beyond the grief of saying goodbye to my boy, I grieve the loss of the family that I had waited so long to have.

Motherhood was my biggest dream and deepest longing. As I’ve faced the reality of having said goodbye to this little boy who I thought made me a mom, I started to wonder if I had also lost motherhood too.

I mean, I was childless before. I’m childless again.

There have been more than a few times in the last three weeks that I’ve wondered if I can ever do this again {foster or adopt}. I don’t think I can answer that question for quite some time.

But I did begin to wonder what truly makes a woman a mother. For my friends who have never given birth, but love another’s child as their own, here’s what I know for sure . . . you are a mom.

I am a mom.

If you comfort a child in their grief and in the midst of them facing tremendous trauma, you are a mom.

If you wipe their tears, comfort them when they’re sick, and cheer them on when they are facing their Goliaths, you are a mom.

If you clean up the puke, the pooh, and your boy’s uncanny ability to get pee everywhere, you are a mom.

If you advocate, fight for, and sacrifice for a child, you are a mom.

If you endure court, biological families that may hate you, constant unknowns, lack of resources & support for a child you didn’t give birth to – but love with all of your heart, you are a mom.

If you endure school fairs with junk food, hyped-up-kids, and blow cash on crazy games your kid can’t win, you are a mom. If you endure Chuck e Cheese, you are also a saint.

If you held your child on his last day of school, when he sobbed, as he said goodbye to his friends and 1st grade teacher, you are a mom.

If you walked hand in hand with him as he started his first day of school nervous about the year ahead, you are a mom.

If you were physically pained because of your child’s pain, you are a mom.

I may not have shared biology. I could never replace his first & forever mom.

But I was a mom.

I am a mom.

You, my hurting friend, if you find yourself here – you are a mom. What you did for that little {or big} child in your care was and is a beautiful gift that will forever be part of their journey.

I know you worry whether it’s part of their healing journey {did I make a difference, you ask} – but I can say with confidence that the only way any child can heal from trauma, is to learn to trust adults, be nurtured & loved unconditionally, and to bond.

What you’ve built into your child, no matter how long or how short, will last forever and will not return a void.

Your pain, your grief, and your loss may not be understood. People may not realize what it feels like. You may feel alone. But you are not. You are going to hurt and grieve. Others may not understand. But I do.

Let yourself grieve. Rest in the knowledge that your grief is a sign of how deeply you loved. The depth of your love is woven into their story forever – the best and good parts of their story. That is a beautiful gift.

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