One of my colleagues inquired about how Solana was feeling after being sick last week. She couldn't remember her name and then said, "I don't know how to refer to her. Is she your daughter? Do you call her your daughter?"
It's been a while since someone asked me this kind of question. Interestingly, I've not really self identified as a "foster" mom for a while. I mean, I introduce myself as a foster mom. I offer foster mom advice. I advocate for kids in care and educate about trauma. But somewhere over the last six months I've lost the "foster" mom identity in the way I think about myself in relationship to the kids. And this question caught me off guard.
These are my kids- and no one questions it. They answer to a name I gave them. They call me Mom. They list my family members as their family members and no one questions us. We are far more likely to be approached with compliments vs questions when we are out in public.
Maybe it's the length of time they have been my kids. I remember struggling to feel that connection when they first moved in. Stuck between the incredibly messy place of grieving children who once occupied all of my time and opening myself back up to the fear that if I let them in, it would happen all over again. But for a solid while now, there hasn't been a question of those feelings for them. Those are my kids and you best act accordingly.
This colleague only met me after I arrived at that place where - I just had four kids. No descriptive adjective (foster, adoptive, biological) and I forgot that for people who aren't informed about these things, these types of questions come up. She of course knows we are a foster/adoptive family and that Solana is in foster care so I understand why the question came up. She was trying to be mindful of the situation and use the correct terminology.
I answered, "Yes I call her my daughter." Because she is. I have 5 kids. Because at the end of the day, I am just "Mom". To all that matter, I have no adjective. I am Mom who answers questions about why legs hurt when they drink water. I am Mom who asks when they last pooped. I am Mom who negotiates hot lunch and ice cream day. To the ones that matter, I'm Mom and they are my kids and that's that.
If Solana hadn't had a visit, today would have been a day where I might have forgotten our "foster" status because it was decidedly "typical". Band concert, parent meeting about the gifted program, homework. I cherish these days as they balance out the days where foster care sucks (and we have had plenty of those in the past year).
I know I will have to reprise my role as foster mom soon enough and deal with all of the crap that goes with that (you know, opinion being ignored, schedule disregarded, kept in the dark) so for now I'll cherish the little bit of "normal" we achieved. We- my four girls and son.