Eleven years ago today we met for the first time, Allen`s Mum (birth mom) and I. She was scared, worried, and quite unsure of herself. She had written out a lengthy list of questions many of which we did not have answers for. That list of questions gave me the impression that she had thought this out to the best of her ability and was sincere in her desire for a better life for her sons. She had decided to place her kids for adoption. (There are two boys) She did this on her own without the courts telling her she had to do it.
Mum had struggled all through school until at age sixteen she could not take it one more day and she dropped out. She has related that she tried very hard and just could not learn the stuff they thought she needed to learn. She then became pregnant with her first son. Shortly after his birth his father went to prison on some type of drug charges. She soon after began a relationship with Allen`s father, found herself once again pregnant, and during this pregnancy she was doing a pretty good job of staying off drugs and alcohol until Allen`s father committed suicide. As she puts it she just could not deal with all the stress so she began to use again. When her baby was born and there was obviously something wrong with him she completely fell apart. When the genetic tests returned showing that the baby had Down Syndrome it was a huge surprise as that is something that is really very unlikely to happen with mothers of that age. The downward spiral continued and when Allen was three months old Mun went into rehab. She did well there, got her kids back, and held it together for a short time. Raising two boys, one whom was always requiring medical care, therapy, and early intervention services was just to much for Mum. That is when things began to change for her and the boys. She wanted to give them a chance for much more then she could provide.
Mun was involved in choosing the two families for her boys. There were many wanting the older one and only two had any interest in Allen. When the other family found out how severely disabled he was they said no thanks. We have been on this journey together ever since. It has been quite an adventure thus far.
Mum has done so very well. She had no guarantees of any contact with her kids. The judge in the case told her that he was leaving that up to the adoptive families. We made it very clear that she would be allowed to be in Allen`s life as long as she stayed drug free and respected our boundaries. She has done that and so much more. She has held the same job for eight years, bought herself a house,where she and the good man in her life live with their two cats. and she even quit smoking, too She grows a large garden and gives what she does not use to the local food shelf.. We had a long talk after Allen had been with us for some time and she did admit to the heavy drinking which occurred during her pregnancy. We had already figured this out due to the timing of her entry into rehab. She also went through the evaluation process and was diagnosed with FAS herself. I think this has helped her a great deal as she now has some understanding of why school was so challenging, why she made such poor choices, and why she continues to need support services to be the success that she is today. Without someone there to help her schedule things, and manage her money she would not be doing as well as she is.
Why is this Mum able to succeed when there are so many other situations very similar to this where the tragedy continues on?
Most of the credit goes to Mum herself. She knew that she did not like where she was in life and she needed to make many changes. She has worked very hard every day to do what she has needed to do to stay on track with her life. She understands that she was addicted and admitting that is the biggest barrier she had to tackle.
There have been two social workers involved in this case. That is hard to believe with the revolving door in the "system". Allen had the same social worker from day one. She knew his birth family, his adoptive family, and him. She was available for him for more than fourteen years until she retired just over a year ago. Mum has also had the same social worker from the beginning. That is who I contact to arrange for visits. She helps keep Mum on track and I hope she continues to be there for a long time yet. This consistency has been so helpful.
Success for this family did not mean that they needed to remain in tact as a family unit. It was in the best interest of these kids to be placed for adoption. It is not always a good thing to keep these families together and every one involved here was able to see that quite quickly. Mum could have fought to keep her kids but she realized that she could not care for them and was able to move forward.
Providing services to Mum is what keeps her doing things she needs to do in order to remain a law abiding, working, tax paying, healthy, member of American society. Do not take her services away or she is likely to require much more that she gets now. With a little bit of assistance Mum can take care of herself. Could she take care of these kids, not likely as that is far more then she is capable of.
The fact that Mum chose not to have any more kids is also a plus in this situation.
Mum in her own way is my hero because she has given her kids the best she could offer them given the situation she is in. We could not ask for anything more then that.