I was talking on the phone with my friend Michelle the other day about what I wanted to do with my life. It’s always been a regular conversation piece with us. She’s grounded and always challenges my pipe dreams. I told her I was thinking about changing my career path in school. (which by the way I have never started) to Social work. I do lots of talking and dreaming, please don’t feel like you need to chime in and tell me I can do it or still have time. It’s not what I-am going after in this post.
“Shelley I think you should continue to counsel people like you have been doing most of your life I think once you go into that career there’s red tape, it might mangle your outlook and damage the angle you do take with people.
I would suppose there is lots of truth in what she said
As long as I can remember people have confided in me, not only sharing their ideas or rundavoos but tragedies, mistakes, and what ifs. In my middle-age years I’ve come to think of it as a gift. I believe I was given the gift of love. It’s always been easy for me to do, more than the alternative. I will admit sometimes I fudge up but I try to keep my eye on the ball. I made a pact to myself when I was younger that I wouldn’t call people names for what they looked like or what they did or didn’t have. As I grew older my pact grew.
When your younger it’s all about looks, what you wear, and money. In your older years those things do follow but people start damning you for your choices, thoughts, and mistakes. I-am not going to tell you that I sit and agree with everything that is shared with me. It’s not my place to try to fix or change anyone either. My place in this world is to love and you can never steer anyone wrong with love.
One year in Two-Thousand-Three or Four, I was working with a cook. She worked every other weekend with me. On Sundays it was always just me and her working. She lived right behind the building we worked in. In the mornings from the dining room windows I would watch as she stumbled into work late.
She was tall, skinny and had light-brown shoulder link hair, It looked like she didn’t brush it. I would open the back door for her and she would say, “It was another rough night Shelley”. I would smile, say hello and act like I didn’t hear what she said, not because of conflict but because the heaviness in her eyes and the frown on her face told me a story.
I knew I would hear
We were taking a break in the living-room of our job one fall afternoon. I can still see the multicolored colored leaves on all the tress around the windows that lined the Living-room of where we were sitting. She was on one couch and I was on another one across from her. She slurred asking me “How my day was going” being so long ago I don’t quite remember what I told her, knowing me something light-hearted one of the residents did or said to cheer up the moment of awkwardness, we had going on since we hadn’t had too much conversation.
Her: Do you have any children?
We sat in silence for a few brief moment after I answered my question. Deep down for some reason I didn’t feel lead to return the question but noticed her head dropped down right along with her face as I gave her a look and a smile.
Her: Do you want any?
Her: I have three children my oldest are sixteen and eighteen, they’re in Foster-Care. We get to visit on Wednesdays if they want to see me, which usually they do.
“It’s nice you all get together”
Her: We talk about their sister who is three. She just got adopted. It’s an open adoption and in this open adoption they get pictures of her, and I don’t. They show them to me when we visit. We will spend our visit discussing the pictures. They’re a good conversation piece.
The couple who adopted her lives in the country. Before the adoption went through, they were nice enough to let me come out for home visits. After we had gotten acquainted. They have a nice big yard for her to play in, with one of those big wooden swing-sets, a pool and animals. She’s happy Shelley and that’s all that matters. As her voice cracked tears streamed down my face just like they are right now.
“I’m glad she’s happy”
Her: You want to know something? Some days I take a drive out where she lives. If she’s playing outside, I pull over and watch her. I daydream about getting out of my car, walking up into the field, stand there and see if she sees me. I wonder if she would come running yelling “mommy” Mommy” and remember who I am. I come back to reality. I have multiple addictions and have for years, I just can’t do it.
I nodded my head and told her crying, Thank you for sharing not only a painful but dark-side of your life with me, also for giving me a different perspective to an Open Adoption.
Towards the end of my Foster-Care Class, the teacher was on the subject of Open Adoption and asked the class “Could you be a part of one”?
I raised my hand and told her and the class the same exact encounter I had with this woman “yes I wouldn’t have made a life changing decision to be a Foster Parent without this mother of a child who forfeited her “happiness” for a lifetime of heartache and what ifs.