My son was 4 and my daughter was 2 when I decided to place them in foster care. At the time, I was living with an abusive man who terrified me. I had nowhere to live and no way to support them if I left my boyfriend, but I knew I needed to leave this man.
I was afraid that my children would have the same bad experiences as I’d had as a child in foster care but I felt I had no other choice. So I said to myself, “I am going to work as hard as I can to get them back home.” I told my children, “Mommy has to go away for a little while and I will get you back home as soon as I can.” Then I went into hiding for more than a year, not even seeing my children. I knew they would never understand.
Further and Further Away
Then one day I was going to the store when my ex walked up on me. He said, “You thought I wouldn’t find you” I was so scared, I just froze. But my ex told me how much he loved me and said that we should work it out. I convinced myself that my ex would change if I went back to him, and that at least I could see my kids.
My first visit with my children was so emotional. They asked me, “Can we come home?” But the beatings started again, and my depression and fear came back, too.
For the next few years, I mostly stayed in bed and, when I did get out, I would drink, cry and listen to sad music. Sometimes my friends would come over and I’d drink with them. I kept everything in and just laughed with the girls, and some days we would cry together. Mostly I drank myself to sleep.
Things got so bad I started to cancel visits; the bruises from my boyfriend lasted weeks at a time. My case was changed from voluntary placement to neglect. Instead of moving closer to getting my kids back, I was moving further and further away from them.
‘You Don’t Deserve This’
When I got pregnant again, I said to myself, “What am I doing? I’m so messed up. Everything is crazy.” I overcame my fear and went to a shelter. But in the shelter, I was lonely, confused and depressed.
One night I let my boyfriend stay with me in the shelter and he beat me. The next day I got kicked out. I was crying. I felt like dying.
The lady next door came into my room and said, “I want to let you know that I called the manager. I could not sit in my room and allow this to go on.”
I started yelling, “You got me kicked out!”
She grabbed my face and said, “Look in the mirror. You don’t deserve this. You should not allow anyone to beat you like this.”
I knew she was right, but I was not ready to take control of my life.
Over the next two years I’d move to a shelter and start seeing my kids, then get back together with my boyfriend until he started hitting me. Then I’d stop seeing my kids. Through it all, I was totally depressed. I could not seem to protect myself or my children.
The Strength to Leave
Finally, after my children had been in care for six years, I began to take more control of my life. I left my boyfriend, went back to school and began visiting my children regularly. I started parenting and domestic violence classes. I also met my children’s foster mother and we developed a good relationship.
But then came the court date changed my life. The caseworker said all the bad things that I’d done in six years and none of the good. The only person in court who had my back was the foster mother, but the judge ruled that I’d permanently lose my rights to see my children and they would be adopted.
My lawyer told me he could fight it for me, and I should call him, but I just walked around for hours thinking and crying. Finally I decided to let them be adopted.
Not Too Late to Change
In the six years since they were adopted, I have learned that I deserve better than to be abused. For the past two years now I’ve been in a relationship that is not abusive. I am really happy that I’ve come so far, from a deep depression, chaos and feeling sorry for myself to having a stable home.
I’ve also been able to reconnect with my son. After a long wait, my son and I got to talk on the phone. It was the most beautiful thing just to hear his voice.
Since then, we’ve had three visits. I’ve been telling my son what it was like when he was little and he’s been telling me things he’s done. He’s not quite ready to talk about why he ended up in foster care. We are taking our time to get to know each other.
I haven’t heard from my daughter yet, but I hope I will. I want both of my children to see how I’ve changed my life, even if I couldn’t change fast enough to bring him home.