“I remember thinking about what my life would be like when I was older. I dreamt of having two boys and a girl and of course the stereotypical white picket fence with a husband and cute dog. I love children and that was the one thing I was certain about, that I wanted to be a mother.
I met Ed when I was 18 and we were married when I was 26 and he was 28. We were so very eager to become parents. When it didn’t happen right away, we were easily discouraged. I had family members and close friends who were foster parents and had adopted through the foster care system. I remember being drawn to a certain little girl that friends of ours had adopted. I was so intrigued by their story and felt myself thinking about it more and more.
I brought up fostering with the possibility of adoption to my husband who was very hesitant. He had very valid reasons as to why it was not at the top of his to-do list. I felt it would be a really good distraction for both of us to help children while we try to start our own family. I also found it super intriguing to be able to build our family through many different avenues.
We started our journey in 2011. After a few siblings sets had come and left, we met our twins on March 30, 2012. We took them in just as a weekend emergency placement, but fell in love quickly. Ace and Avaya made us parents and it was my sole purpose in life to care for them. Nothing else mattered. I quit my job to stay home with them full-time.
Avaya had heart surgeries and was constantly in and out of the hospital for the first year of her life. After a very emotional foster care ride, they were officially ours in November 2013 at 18 months old. The longing to birth my own children simply went away. The love I felt for them was so strong, like I had created them myself. A lot of people worry about adopting and if they will bond or love them as much as their own biological children. I can’t 100% tell you you will, but my love for them is like no other.
They are African-American, I am Italian, and my husband is Filipino. We have had our share of the stares and unkind words whispered to us. Random people often say, ‘How did THAT happen?’ or ‘why didn’t you adopt your own kind?’ It really hurt in the beginning and made us feel as if we weren’t good enough. I found myself putting a blanket over car seats when running into Target just because I didn’t want to deal with it and I didn’t want to be treated differently. But as they grew older, I just didn’t care anymore. I am so incredibly proud of them and I could care less what people think. My skin has grown thicker and thicker over the years.
When the twins were 2 1/2 years old, I received a call from a foster parent friend. Her former foster daughter came back into care and needed a home. She was full and asked if I would take her. I remember this gorgeous little girl and how my friend raved about how well behaved she was. Little Eliyah entered our world just shy of two years old. Avaya and her created that instant sisterly bond. She fit into our family just perfectly. Two years later, she was adopted in May 2017. With 3 five-year-olds we were super busy. Eliyah is only seven months younger than the twins.
Once all three of them were in kindergarten, I started to work out of the home more. This was such a busy time in our lives as we consistently had six children in our home. Our fostering days were in full swing and kids were coming in and out at an unfortunately fast rate. It became a lifestyle and before we knew it, we had fostered over 30 children at the time. Then, we got a call for 3 little girls. We said yes! Little did I know this would be the start of one of the most emotional roller coasters of my life.
Early on, we realized the youngest of the three had some needs we were not equipped to handle with so many young children in our home. The workers and I made the decision to move her to a home where she could get more attention and could cater to all of her appointments and needs. The two older girls that had just turned two and three were doing well in our home. They claimed us early on as their mommy and daddy and really fit in with our children. We were protecting our hearts and trying not to get attached…what a joke that was. These sweet little girls were so precious it was hard not to fall in love.
This is when we experienced a lot of unwanted drama and heartache. The girls worker at the time really took us for a wild ride. The emotional ups and downs really took a toll on me. One minute these children needed to be adopted, and the next they were going home with their biological family within days. I just could not wrap my head around the thinking process of this case. How could they be up for the adoption one day and then going home the next?! It just didn’t make sense. There should be no gray areas, in my opinion. It’s either the parents are capable or they’re not.
I truly feel like the system failed these children for the first year and a half of them being in Care. Our foster care journey with these girls was nothing short of a emotional disaster. At one point a year and a half into their placement, they were doing overnights. Something traumatic happened to one of the girls which finally halted the reunification process. The worker went on a sudden leave of absence and we were assigned a new one. (Finally, a competent person to handle the case!) Very quickly things started moving and the case was sent to adoptions. I am all for reunification and I know my role as a foster parent is just to care for the children. But to me, this case was very cut and dry. It would not be in the best interest of the girls to be placed back with their biological mother. I struggled with this emotionally because it seemed so clear to me. I understand that they need to do everything they can to try to make reunification work. The case was very black-and-white. Our troubles did not stop there.
After services and termination of rights were finally granted, we met the adoption worker. In hindsight, I understand her process but at the time I was a stress ball. She came in and I felt very threatened. I felt like she was going to take away the sweet girls and I’ve been in our home for over two years. She gave us an ultimatum. She threatened to place all three of the sisters in another home if I did not take the youngest sister back. I knew in my heart I could not handle six children from 2 to 7 years old. Especially with the needs of the youngest of the sisters. I just couldn’t do it. And I know many people strongly believe that keeping siblings together is the best case scenario. I do too.
But in this case, it is best that she is in a home that someone can cater to her special needs. After bonding assessments, interviews, home visits, and lots of excruciating waiting time, the worker agreed it was in the girl’s best interest to stay in our home. During this time, I had been documenting my foster to adoption journey on YouTube. All the highs and lows were documented for all my subscribers to see. Having others follow our journey was very comforting to us. I felt like I was able to shed light on very private and sensitive matters. I had hoped to encourage and inspire others to become foster parents and to help all the thousands of children in need in the US. In doing this, I met several amazing women who I will forever have bonds with.
On October 30, 2019 we became an official family of 7. Lilly and Natalia were the missing pieces we never knew were missing. They complete our family. All five of my children were adopted through foster care, and all five feel like my children. I do not know the feeling of having a biological child but I cannot imagine it being a stronger love then I feel for my adopted children. Ed and I are so incredibly proud to have these five little beings as part of our family. Yes having five children born within 3 years is a lot of work. Lots of laughs, lots of tears, lots of shoes, and lots of happiness.
We still often talk about if we should bring a biological child into our family. Honestly, we don’t know how that would be for the rest of the kids. Would our children be treated differently? Will they feel different for him or her? It’s not worth it to us. We are so fulfilled and happy with our five blessings, the longing to have a biological child has completely disappeared.
All 7 of us were meant to be together and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Christy Gior. You can follow her journey on Instagram and YouTube. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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