Nearly eight months ago I signed the papers that said the five small children living in my home were officially mine forever. And after eight months, sometimes I forget that they are mine.
Mine. It's one of the earliest words I learned as a child and yet it sounds so foreign to me when it pertains to the adoption of my children.
Mine. It means they aren't going anywhere. It means no case worker will show up at my door to move the children to a distant relative who suddenly came out of the woodwork after three years.
Mine. It means that I no longer have to get permission to take them on vacations or home-school them. I don't have to inform anyone when they are sick or bump their heads. No more home visits, no more awkward interviews with strangers marking on their clip boards whether or not every outlet is covered.
"Mine" offers mixed emotions though. Now, "mine" means I'm the one responsible for the adults these tiny people will grow up to be. "Mine" means I have to be the one to make decisions about who or what can be in their lives, when others offer differing opinions. "Mine" means even at the cost of someone else's feelings, I am first and foremost responsible for the safety and well-being of my children and will ultimately have to make these decisions regardless of what anyone else thinks.
"Mine" can be really scary.
It's only been eight months. I'm still figuring out how to do this. And I think that's okay. They offer tons of classes about how to manage as a foster parent, but they don't teach you what to do after "mine" happens. So if you're an adoptive parent struggling to figure it out, know you're not alone. There is at least one other person out there who is just as clueless as you.
But I also know your happiness. As scary as it has been, I also know the joy that comes from "mine." And I can't wait to feel it again.
Carrie is a stay-at-home mom of five who is blogging about her foster care experiences for MetroFamily. Learn more about her and our other bloggers here and check out all our foster care resources here.