‘We’re creating our own family by the heart.’: Woman adopts family friend from broken home, former foster daughter as adults

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“I have never had a positive or healthy relationship with anyone to whom I am biologically related. My biological father chose to not be a part of my life. My mother left him when I was 2 years old, and according to her, I was 4 when I last saw him. He did not want to be a part of my life.

In 2009, as an adult, I found him. We talked for a little over two weeks by phone, and then he bailed again. My step-father was never a father to me. Instead he was abusive in some ways, before he died in 2011. For various reasons, I have what I call a ‘friendly and distant relationship‘ with my mother.

I am the oldest of five children, with four brothers. My first brother was in and out of jail all of his life, and committed suicide several years ago. My second and third brothers have been incarcerated for over 30 years each. My fourth brother stopped talking with me many years ago, and from what little I know, it was because he didn’t like that I talk openly and honestly of the experiences which I had with my step-father, who was his biological father.

It has affected me over the years. It’s hard at times to never know what it is like to have a close relationship with someone to whom I am related. There have been times when I have looked at others and their family relationships and wondered what it was like. Hearing a friend talk about an everyday conversation with her brother and wondering, ‘What is that like?’ Hearing a conversation between a friend and her aunt and wondering, ‘What is that like?’ Hearing a conversation between a friend and their son, and then wondering, ‘What is that like?’  There have been many times I have been around these types of situations and simply wished I could relate and have similar relationships.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with many friends who love and care dearly about me, and share the journey of life with me. Yet, I have missed having family. It wasn’t for a lack of trying with family members. It has been an empty area of my life. So, I made my own family with friends, and now I am actually making family through adoption.

In the 90’s, I lived in Pennsylvania for a little over two years. There I met Connie, who was 6 years old and living in foster care. I became close with Connie, her sisters, and their foster mother. I had met her sister, Danielle, when volunteering in the community, and connected with her. I then obtained the phone number of her foster mother, to spend time with Danielle.

Connie as a child in foster care.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

The foster mother invited me to visit their church, which became my church for the remainder of my time living there. I then started spending time with this foster family. I thought everything was great. I had no idea of the multiple negative things going on, including several types of abuse to Connie.

Connie, her two sisters, their two foster siblings, and the foster mother, who later adopted all five foster children, had all connected with me on Facebook. In 2009, the foster mother died. And in July of 2020, everything changed for me.

Connie, now a single mom of two sons and a full-time nurse, who also vlogs on her YouTube channel, shared a video from her channel on Facebook that shook me to the core. It was titled ‘My Foster Brother Molested Me For 12 Years.’ I watched it in shock, and just cried. I had Connie’s phone number, however we had not yet talked by phone, only on Facebook.

We started talking by phone, and I learned three things: the many bad things that happened to Connie (birth family and in foster care), that I had meant more to her than I realized, and that she needed me. I had always been ‘Aunt Mary’ to Connie, but just didn’t realize so much.

Adoptive mother and daughter wearing matching pajamas and embracing.
Courtesy of Mary Banos
Woman and adopted adult daughter embrace.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

As for why I meant so much to Connie, she said, ‘Looking back on my childhood now, in relevance to who mattered most and why, it is hard to pin point in terms of individuals. It could have been the mail man asking me why I was crying as he dropped off our mail. It could have been my school bus driver who demanded a child remove their book bag from the empty spot available beside them, so I didn’t have to stand the entire ride home from school. Maybe even my church pastor prioritizing my safety and well-being. But it was none of those people… I was seen and not heard. My Aunt Mary, my mom, she saw me and heard me. What more could a child ask for? That’s what she meant to me. She acknowledged I existed when no one else did.’

I had thought the foster mother’s family had loved and been there for Connie, but I was so wrong. I jumped in quickly. I started calling and texting Connie, and her sister, Danielle, more. I sent Christmas gifts to them and their children and started visiting them. I made two trips in 2021, and have two planned for 2022. Connie started talking more and more with me, to the point that we now talk almost daily. Once we started talking regularly, we quickly grew so very close.

Adoptive mother with her adopted daughter and her sister.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

I had last seen Connie when she was 8-years-old. May 2021, I flew to visit her, and saw her again at age 33. I returned for Thanksgiving, and we made some major decisions. In the upcoming months I will be adopting Connie, and becoming her mother. I will be her third and final mother.

I decided to adopt Connie as an adult for a combination of two reasons: how close we have become, and the genuine mother/daughter relationship which we have nurtured; and two, she has had not one, but two mothers, and still did not know what it was to have a loving and nurturing mother.

Months into our talking regularly, she one day expressed to me that with our relationship, she now knew what it was like to have a mother. That touched me deeply. She deserved to have a mother who passionately loves, encourages, cares for her, and nurtures her. I am so extremely proud and honored to be that mother for Connie.

Adoptive mother and daughter smile at camera for a selfie.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

These are Connie’s feelings about my adoption of her: ‘This decision has given my life new meaning. My foster mother passed 13 years ago, January 14th, and both my biological parents have also passed. Regardless of their deaths, I’ve spent the greater part of my life having no parents at all. No consistent love without conditions, and no one to look up to or call to for help. In many ways, growing up with no guidance leaves you relating more to a child inside. I have memories of heartache simply being surrounded by my friends calling their parents and having casual conversations. Seeing commercials on TV of a family where a mother and daughter bicker or play funny pranks on one another, and it’s brought tears to my eyes.’

‘Initially, I thought it was beautiful, something so simple and natural. Following, I was heartbroken because I believed I would never have such an experience and my time had come and gone twice! What this means to me is family. It means my children will have a grandmother. It means I get to determine my future and I get another chance and a choice. As an adult, we tend to believe we no longer have a choice or say in our future. We get so caught up in work, kids, bills, responsibilities, politics, etc. We lose touch of the control we have over our own happiness. It’s never too late to build and create your own family. I didn’t get to chose who I was born to. But I get to choose my mom now, and I never thought this was possible. What this means to me you ask? It means my world and it’s just gotten bigger. I love MY mom! She’s more than anyone ever let me feel I deserve. This is my family.’

Adoptive mother embracing her two grandchildren.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

For me, it is significant to adopt Connie because she came into this world deserving to be loved and nurtured, and this was not done by her first or second mother. I want to be that mother for her, to love and nurture, to encourage and support, and to celebrate her accomplishments with her. I want to give her what she has always deserved and needed; a mom to love her. We are creating our own family.

Several years after meeting Connie as a little girl, I spent two years as a foster mother, and have some other young adult women in my area (Texas) who I think of as daughters. One of them, Lupita, and I are especially close. She lived with me as a teenager for three months in 2009. Soon after, we lost touch for three and a half  years, and then reconnected in March of 2013. For me, we have remained close because I absolutely adore her and the beautiful heart she has.

Foster daughter posing with hands in pocket of zip up sweater.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

Lupita is such a precious young lady and wants to be the best mother she can be to her two young children. She has a huge heart and is very caring and compassionate. It has been a very mutual relationship, in that Lupita loves and cares for me as much as I do for her. I am touched by how much she is as interested in what is going on in my personal life as I am in her life. It is very much a mother/daughter relationship, as she talks with me openly and honestly about all areas of life. She has a sweet, humble, and respectful personality. Lupita is very genuine, and it is easy to love and adore her.

When asking Lupita to share her response about our relationship, she said: ‘Mary impacted my life deeply by always believing in me when I wouldn’t, always giving me the assurance I am worthy, and much more. My heart breaks because I never had this love, and for someone to love me like that… it’s priceless. I am blessed to even know a daughter of God with such a beautiful and big heart after so much pain, and I love my Mary, my angel. Words cannot describe how much it’s ME who feels blessed to even have her be a part of my life. No matter what, I want you to know you are deeply special to me, and I will always come back to you, because you are my angel. God bless you so much!’

Foster daughter at graduation with her foster mom.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

Several months ago, I connected Connie and Lupita by phone, and they became friends. They have many things in common, and I could see ways in which they could bless each other. They adore each other. When sharing with Lupita about my plans to adopt Connie, I found out she wants me to adopt her too.

Connie will visit me for the first time this coming April. I will have adopted her by then, and her and Lupita will be able to meet in person. Next, I will adopt Lupita, giving myself two daughters, and giving them a sister who will surely become their best friend.

I see it, and they see it too. I will gain two daughters and four grandchildren. It is a blessing to be creating a family with them, to have both children and grandchildren. One of my favorite things about both Connie and Lupita is how passionate they are about their parenting. I feel blessed to watch them be good mothers to their children. I love being a part of it all; it makes it an even bigger blessing.

Former foster daughter at dinner with her own family.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

It all started with Connie and I, and will continue to grow. Connie has a YouTube channel where she has made and posted several videos from my Thanksgiving visit with her, and will continue to do so with our future visits together. She will also be sharing videos of my adoption of her and our journey of becoming family.

In the past, I always spent Thanksgiving with one of my friends and their families, or home alone. This past year, 2021, felt like my first family Thanksgiving. It has always been a blessing to spend holidays with friends and their families, and they have made me feel welcomed and part of their families. But it felt extremely special for me to have a Thanksgiving with people who are family to me, and to have what felt like Thanksgiving with my own family. It was amazing, and we decided it will be something we do every year.

Connie and Lupita expressed how much I have impacted their lives, but they have impacted my life as well. I have been blessed with an abundance of close relationships with friends, and with Connie and Lupita, I can experience close relationships with family, which is something I have never had. I am thankful to gain them as daughters, and so very proud and honored to become their mother.

For those of you who relate to myself or Connie, I hope this encourages you. Just as Connie and I are creating our own family by the heart, you can too. For anyone who wants to talk, I am here. Some people determine a key word/theme for a new year. For me, my word for 2022 is CREATE. I am creating family, for Connie, Lupita, and myself.”

Woman and her adopted adult daughter hug for picture.
Courtesy of Mary Banos
Woman and her former teen foster daughter embrace.
Courtesy of Mary Banos

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Banos of Texas. You can follow her journey on Facebook and YouTube. You can also follow Connie on her YouTube channel here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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‘I was an ‘accident.’ My birth mom ‘tried to get rid of me,’ but couldn’t. She didn’t even want to name me.’: Orphan named by stranger in hospital room finally adopted at 26, ‘I longed to belong’

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