“’His mom is a crackhead, isn’t she?’ I wavered for a moment as I stared into this woman’s judging eyes who had stood behind me in the checkout line at Walmart. This woman, who I had never met before, inserted herself into a place where she didn’t belong, asking questions about the 2-week-old baby who was sleeping in the car seat on top of my shopping cart.
She began the conversation by saying how cute my son was as she grabbed at his toes. For some reason, I felt the need to tell her he was my foster son, afraid to claim him as my own. Looking back, I think it felt wrong to claim a title that did not belong to me, as his biological mom had just given birth to the precious gift of Z weeks prior and was genuinely fighting to get him back into her care. It felt like a lie to say I was his mother.
The woman in the checkout line was relentless and continued pressing me with questions and I continued to be polite because even though I would have really liked to put her in her place, I understood she just didn’t get it. And most people don’t get it unless they’ve walked through foster care. The misunderstood paints this picture of who they think biological parents really are. They think if a parent has their child taken away, they aren’t any good. They must be drug addicts or abusive or neglectful. And a lot of times, this is the case but what is failed to be understood is people are living behind things we don’t understand.
What if the mom who just had her child taken away was covering up a childhood trauma with self-medication to find some kind of normal? What if she had an intellectual disability that made it difficult for her to understand concepts of mothering and nurturing, let alone parenting classes and people of authority? What if the mom who was fighting to get her child back didn’t have a vehicle to transport her to and from visits with her child or didn’t have job skills because she didn’t have an education, therefore lacking the ability to financially provide for her child?
There are things we just don’t understand and we aren’t warranted to. We are merely called to love, and if love knows no boundaries, then why should my love for her be any different than my love for her son I am raising as my own? And if love knows no boundaries, then I don’t want to forget to see the woman living behind things I don’t understand.
What I wish I could tell that lady in Walmart today, and everyone else who doesn’t understand for that matter, is Z’s bio mama has flawless cream-colored skin and the most piercing blue eyes I’ve ever seen. She loves her son with all her heart and fought for him the best way she could. She’s lived a life you couldn’t possibly begin to understand and walked an incredibly hard road as she tried to navigate a system containing so many obstacles she would never be able to overcome.
Z’s mama has a pure heart and gave it to me the very day we met as I took her hand in mine and promised to take good care of her son. And if I ever get the chance, I want to tell her I love her. I want to tell her how her son is exceptional and I want her to know how grateful I am for the gift she has given us. And perhaps my love will heal some of her brokenness, because this kind of boundless love has healed so much of mine.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Bowser of NY. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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