Forever Family

My daughter’s foster family is still apart of our lives.

When I began visiting my daughter, she was 3 and I had not seen her for 2 1⁄2 years. I was locked up because of my addiction to crack cocaine.

At first, Ebony couldn’t stand my living guts. She was afraid of me and was really not nice. She wouldn’t talk to me, she’d scream when I got near her. She’d sit under the desk for the whole visit, or keep running out in the hall to see her foster mother. I would keep reading, “And the bear said…” and if she looked at me I’d say, “Hello, Ebony.” Of course I went home and cried.

Step by Step

At first, the foster mother and I did not get along. I felt that the foster mother’s presence during visits was making it harder for us to bond. My daughter kept going out in the hall to talk with her foster mother, and it made me crazy. I said, “I’m going to ask them to remove the foster mother from the agency during the time of my visit.”

She fought me tooth and nail, one mother fighting another mother. She would say my daughter acted out after visits and she blamed me.

Still, I went step by step—I kept working on my relationship with Ebony and went from supervised to community visits to weekends. Ebony and I got closer when I was able to take her out to the park and then, when we had weekend visits, I could do little things like wipe her face and do her hair and put on her shoes.

As my daughter’s foster mother realized that my daughter was really on her way home, she began to be a friend to me.

‘We Can All Live Together’

The day my daughter came home for good, I felt like I should give Ebony back to the foster family because they loved her so much and she loved them.

That day, the whole foster family brought her to my door. They pulled up in a minivan with about 15 Spanish people in it, brothers and sisters, all crying—crying on the floor, crying in the street, taking all of her belongings out of the car, screaming, “My princess, my baby.” I was overwhelmed.

I was actually planning to end their relationship with my daughter. I wanted her home with me, period. But later on, when I was bathing my daughter, she said to me, “This is what we can do. We can put your house and their house together and we can all live together.” My heart went out to Ebony. I’m a woman of compassion, and I told myself,

“There is no way I’m going end this relationship. I can’t do that to them or to her.”

A Loving Connection

In the months after my daughter came home, her foster family continued to show love to us both. I called her foster mother once and said, “Why isn’t this child eating?” We realized that Ebony was used to Spanish food and I cook black people food. So her foster mom would bring pans and pans of food. She taught me to cook pastelitos and peas and rice.

Today my daughter is 10 and her former foster mother is still part of our lives. She often babysits since I’m working and going to school, and Ebony stays with her in the summers.

We don’t always agree—she thinks I’m too strict and that I don’t feed my daughter enough. I think she lets my daughter stay up too late eating anything. I’m big on boundaries because I didn’t get any when I was a child. Even so, I truly appreciate her love for my child. I’ll curse her out in a minute, but I love her, and I know she loves us both.

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