“We want to make you part of our family, Ruby. We are in the process of adopting you but want to make sure it’s what you want. We have to take classes but we are willing to do whatever we need to, to bring you home, forever.”

“I want another daughter, and you want a mom, what do you think about joining our family, forever? You’d have to ask the bigs, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have a problem with it, they all like you pretty well”

“You’re not in trouble for staying up too late, he was supposed to talk to you about joining our family, forever. [My husband] and I want to adopt you.”

“Ruby, you know you and I have become pretty close this past year and I want you to know I’m so grateful for that. [My husband] and I have talked about your situation a lot and we’ve decided we want to adopt you and add you to our family, forever. We’ve also talked to [the kids] and they agree also…”

Each of these belong to a family I once called my own. Four families that loved me. Four families that made a commitment to me. On the days of the announcement, of each of these, I felt as if my heart would explode; someone finally wanted me. I remember each one vividly, and though I have changed some of the wording to protect identity, I remember each announcement as if it were yesterday. The first was only months after my initial loss of my biological family. They inquired about the things they needed to do and pursued immediately. The only problem with this is that my bio family decided they wanted to take a stand and fought,  but never moved forward. So, there I sat. Alone. In foster care with complete strangers. This family gave up because they didn’t want to fight. To know that I was not worthy of a fight made me feel pretty despicable. It wasn’t for another year and a half that the second family inquired. Only this time, they fought. I remember standing doing dishes with the mom and just talking about regular teen stuff. Towards the end of the dishes she asked my thoughts on family. I remember telling her that I missed mine and that I wished more than anything I could have one to call my own, that would love me forever…and that is when she told me that they wanted me. I was really happy, but sad because I feared her kids would deny me the permission to become a part o their family. After a few months her daughter {my soon to be sister} decided she and her husband wanted me. I found this out during a “family” vacation. Again, I was excited. I remember telling them that I wished, every year for Christmas, that I could have a family that would love me forever. This adoption was almost finalized. We were ready to go to court and finalize, and then, I don’t really know what happened. I had doubts and fears and so did they. About a week before court she called it off…told me to pack my stuff and sent me with my caseworker. By this time, I’d pretty much lost hope. I was sent back to adoptive house #2, again. It didn’t work out as it was her daughter that was failed attempt #3. Then…a “friend” told me, for the last time, that I was wanted. That for once I would have a family that would stick beside me and love me no matter my endeavor. That was the common thread through all four families: that for once I would have a family that would love me, that would cherish me, that I could call mine FOREVER. One of the most cliche things I heard was:”you haven’t been taken care of or protected like you should be… so we are going to do that forever.” You will always be a part of our family, you will always have a place to call home…FOREVER.

This time of the year is a struggle for me. It is one of the hardest times of the year. Within the space of 2 months I have at least 4 major “reunions” of something that has changed my life significantly…and unfortunately my internal time-clock refuses to skip over them. What I mean by “major” reunions are things like: adoption day, the day my mom 100% gave me away {signed her rights away}, etc. Those are big. Then add the holidays and it just makes it all the better. I’m not a holiday person and I’m not afraid to admit it. Quite frankly, I hate the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to be a time for family and love and happiness. You know, all that mumbo-jumbo. So, what is it when you have no one. Each one of those families promised me something I could count on forever, someone to spend the holidays with, a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand in success, a guide through the storms…and each of those families gave me the complete opposite. I don’t really talk to any of the families anymore…not even the family that signed the papers…so you might ask why it affects me. Now, I watch all of my friends get excited about Christmas and it makes me sad. I hear them talk about how excited they are to go home to see their family to spend the “most wonderful time of the year” with them and it breaks a part of me. I see decorations start to appear and I  stare with wishful thinking. I watch as children get excited, adults as well, about retrieving a tree and creating tradition…and I wonder–what would have it been like. I struggle this time of year because as much as I know I should, I don’t want these things any more. The things I want are for the ones who made promises–to fulfill their promises. I want my mom to take back her signature. I want the last family to really think about what they were getting into and why they did it. I want to be accepted. I want to be loved. I want to be truly wanted. But most of all…I want, for once in my life, a forever to mean without ever ending. I’m not mad at any of these families…at least not at this moment. I am sad because of the choices that were made. I know deep within me that none of these families were meant to be mine. I know that even though they promised me a forever and didn’t follow through they were doing the best thing they could…because they did give me a forever! It may have not been a family, but it was a wisdom. Wisdom in knowing that family doesn’t mean the people who you are legally or blood bound to, but rather the people who surround you, and willingly accept and love you.

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