My desire to become a mother started many years ago but first I needed to get married, right? That is the way it goes. Get an education. Fall in love. Get married under the chuppah. Start a family. I tried to find my beshert, really I did, but I hadn’t and I was only getting older. I finally decided that it didn’t really need to happen in that order. Motherhood was just another goal for me to achieve in my own creative way.
After a few meetings with Rabbi Aderet Drucker, then at Walnut Creek’s Congregation B’nai Shalom, during a time that my faith was being tested, she sent me a link about a fellowship out of Arizona for Jewish families who are looking to adopt, Yatom. The new fellowship was searching for its first cohort of prospective families to guide as they made their own paths toward adoption. Seven families were chosen after an application, an interview and letters of recommendation. I happened to be one of them, the only single individual. We were an eclectic bunch from all over the country.
With the support of founder Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz and director Meghan Dorn, both from Valley Beit Midrash in the Phoenix area, we had online meetings in which adoption advocates in the Jewish community spoke to us. The topics included the foster care system, private adoption, the bio-psychosocial aspects of adoption, the Jewish aspect of adoption and much more. It was wonderful being able to discuss our concerns with experts regarding raising a child from another faith in a Jewish home. It was reassuring to know that we were not alone, and let me tell you that it is scary opening your heart like this, and very scary when you are on your own. Friendships were made through this process. We had a support system that I never could have imagined, with individuals I have never physically met. What a gift it has been to find Yatom. Through the group, my heart opened to the idea of foster-care children with the goal of adoption.
I was working at Jewish Vocational Service in San Francisco when I started this process, but since them I returned to school for a master of social work degree at Sacramento State University. I started my resource family (foster family) classes in October (right after the Jewish New Year) and completed them in four weekend classes. I went through my home study, got my fingerprints done, took my CPR recertification test and then I was a resource parent. I have since had three emergency placements (all under the age of two, one just two days old). With the help of my parents, I have been able to attend classes, as getting day care was a difficult process. However, the nights were for me and the children.
It is an exhausting experience. Sometimes I have had to wonder what I am doing. One of the kiddos spent six hours with me in an emergency room the morning after he arrived. He was a wonderful child but I was feeling the strain. I am now looking to take the crib down and buy a twin bed so that I can take in older children (ages 5-18) who are in need of a safe place. Right now, I feel fostering older children will be easier on me as I still have another year in my two-year program.
Hopefully, one day I will find my forever family. I feel that I am on an audition just as much as the children probably feel. I am new to this and there is a huge learning curve. I may not be perfect, but I am doing the best that I can, just like every other parent out there. So if I appear to be a bit tired, it is most likely due to the wonderful opportunities I have to spend a short period of time with the young people that come into my home. I will continue to spend countless hours rocking them and reassuring them that they are safe and wanted. Most will return to their home, hopefully in a better position, but maybe someday one will be here to stay.