When your foster son turns 18, you lose your legal status in his life. He’s free to go; he’s free to stay. If you’re lucky, he chooses the latter.
When your foster son turns 18, the government is no longer responsible for him. You bid farewell to monthly stipends and visits with social workers. If you’re lucky, it doesn’t matter.
When your foster son turns 18, you applaud your biological kids for the generosity of spirit they displayed when they were called upon to share their parents. You’re sorry for the times when there was not enough of you to go around. But you’re more thankful for the ways in which their lives were enriched.
When your foster son turns 18, you look at your stack of books on sibling rivalry and try to remember when the magical transformation from bickering brothers to buddies and bro’s took place.
When your foster son turns 18, you laugh about the times people have said he looks like—or doesn’t look like—your husband or your other boys. You wonder how many more times you’ll hear that in the future.
When your foster son turns 18, you remember the times he was in pain and there was nothing you could do or say. You’re glad those are becoming distant memories.
When your foster son turns 18, you think of the ways in which the experience of fostering stretched you to your limits. You realize how much stronger you’ve emerged and how much it was worth it.
When your foster son turns 18, you are thankful for the wonderful people who were added to your life through him. You’re glad they’ve become your family and friends.
When your foster son turns 18, you look at the bright, intelligent, confident young man he has become and you are oh so proud of him. And for a minute, you’re proud of yourself as well.
When your foster son turns 18, you think of his future and the road that lies ahead. You wouldn’t miss any of it for anything.
When your foster son turns 18, you accept the fact that he’s both yours and not yours at the same time. And that he is always going to be.
When your foster son turns 18, you realize that love and shared experiences can create bonds that are strong and forever, even without biological ties or legal recognition.
When your foster son turns 18, if you’re really lucky, you stop being a foster mother, and simply become a mom.
Written in awe and admiration of Faigie Tropper, Hannah Sperber, Heather Maresky, and the extraordinary families who take on even greater challenges by fostering or adopting children with special needs or from different cultures… in memory of my grandmother, Hannah Pasternak, z”l, who looked after orphans after the War and must have passed something down to me… and with love for the awesome Moshe Bernstein on his 18th (Hebrew) birthday.