When I met my children, they were 15 months old. I wasn’t there the first time my daughter crawled or the first time my son walked. I don’t know if they sucked their thumbs, when they first sat up, or when they rolled over. I don’t even remember some of the milestones for which I was present — when did he first say “Mama?” When did she? I can remember the first time he said “spoon,” but not “Mama,” because apparently, my brain is great at prioritizing.
But I do remember the first time she said “I love you” and the first time I saw them spontaneously hold hands. I remember our adoption day, when we officially became a family. We’ve celebrated first (and now second, third, and fourth) holidays and taken our first family vacation. Through each new experience, we have built our family’s story, adding memories to our history together.
The Milestones Still Matter
I am honored to be their mom and to experience so many milestones. I’ve watched my daughter draw her first recognizable picture and found myself amazed as her attempts to write progressed from scribbles to attempts at letters. I’ve watched my son’s Lego towers grow taller and taller and watched him imagine elaborate adventures (most of which involve pirates). I didn’t watch as they took their first steps, but I’ve watched them learn to run.
When I first began to consider parenthood, I thought I wanted a baby. All of the baby milestones seemed so important: the rolling over, the walking, the cute monthly pictures documenting baby’s growth. I know better now; I don’t want that. What I want is whatever time I can have with these exact children — with my children. And the “firsts” never really stop. Each milestone is exciting, each new discovery full of wonder. They’re constantly learning, and though they have, for the most part, mastered sitting up and rolling over, there is always a new skill to learn or a new obstacle to conquer. As their mom, I have gained far more than I have missed.
National Adoption Month 2017
This November, the theme of National Adoption Month is “Teens Need Families, No Matter What.” In Ohio alone, there are approximately 2,600 children waiting to be adopted. Of that number, nearly half are age 13 or older. While my own children aren’t yet teenagers, I can imagine the memories waiting in our future: first dates, first jobs, extracurricular activities — and, hopefully someday, some trips to the mall that don’t involve the phrases “don’t lie down on the floor!” or “stop licking that!” Waiting teenagers in foster care also need and deserve families to delight in these experiences and to share in so many others.
Further Resources on Adoption
If foster care or adoption interest you, I encourage you to check out some of the following local resources. If you are not in a position to foster or adopt at this time, there are many other ways to help, including Franklin County Children Services’ Holiday Wish Program, which provides toys and gifts to children in foster care.