My Crooked Path to the Family I Always Wanted


I always wanted a big family. As an only child, I begged my parents for siblings relentlessly. I loved my cousins’ big families and I always had such a fun time when I was with them. Early as a kid, I was set on a big family and wanted to adopt. As the saying goes, “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” Two husbands later, one lost to a drug overdose, and the second to divorce, I had one child from each, eleven years apart. Life wasn’t exactly how I imagined it would be.

Trouble with pregnancy

After the tragic loss of my first husband, I believed my dream of a big family died along with him. Our daughter was going to be an only child like me. At the time, I looked into international adoption. But the cost was beyond my teacher salary. Plus, most agencies prefer a two-parent household. I moved on, abandoning the hope of adoption. Four years later I met my second husband. We had our son and I was so happy. However, I was thirty-nine and had complications during my pregnancy. I had gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and had to have a C-section. My dream of having another baby soon became a pipe dream.

I tried adoption

My husband and I started to talk about U.S. adoption. We looked into all the options. All the what ifs and the unknowns unsettled me. Where would the baby come from? How would I know the family history? What if the mother just couldn’t afford her baby and was disadvantaged or forced to give up her child? Would we prefer an open or closed adoption? And then there is the wait list — it can sometimes take years. I was forty at this point and unsure I really wanted a baby. After some time, my husband and I decided to become foster parents. A friend of ours fostered, and then adopted, children. So, we starting learning about the process. 

The foster process in New Hampshire required us to take classes, have interviews, get our home inspected and more. It was exciting and daunting. We were ready. 

Then, the unthinkable happened.

I discovered that my second husband was addicted to opioids. Our son was about to start preschool. In a flash, after he endangered our son, our marriage ended. He didn’t die from an overdose, but I left him because I couldn’t go through it all again. I filed for divorce and once again, I thought my dream of adopting was over. I gave up on my dreams of ever having a “normal” family. Broken inside, I thought, how could I have let this happen again? Why did this happen to me twice?

A door opened.

Five years later, with my wounds finally healed, along came my foster child. I wasn’t even planning to be a foster parent at this time! I’m a teacher and a new student joined our school. The state took this young woman from her parents when she was eleven. She bounced around from one family member to another but no one was willing to take her permanently. She was living with a friend of her mother and that’s how she ended up in my class. While she was my student, she was removed from her legal guardians’ home and sent to a group home. 

A new addition.

For whatever reason, she started to confide in me. She told me about her nights and weekends at the group home and the devastation she felt. She didn’t understand why she had to be there and, when I listened to her, I had the sensation that I was watching a child drown. I felt compelled to do something to help her.

I called the group home and asked if I could visit her. Her case worker contacted me and, after a background check, they added me to her contact list. I visited her several times and then we started going out to lunch or to the mall on the weekends. Her case worker asked if I would consider doing respite (this is one amazing way to support foster families). I would need to go back to foster parenting classes. So, instead, I went back and got my foster license, home and fire inspection, background check and fingerprinting. In less than a year, I became a foster parent!

A big family

My daughter and son met my soon to be foster child on many occasions and immediately loved her. My son was nine at the time and my daughter was twenty. So, at 16, she fits right in the middle! We started out with her staying with us on the weekends and, after a few months, she moved in full time. After living with us for a year, she decided she wants to be adopted and be part of our family forever! 

We are waiting for our court date which I hope is very soon. Because of the pandemic, courts closed and consequently became backed up. Becoming a foster parent and getting a foster child doesn’t usually happen this way but it’s one of the many ways you can make the biggest impact on a child’s life. While I didn’t expect the twists and turns, I’m so grateful I have the family I always wanted.