Almost 16 years ago I moved a man and his 3 children into my home.
Their mom had deserted them, possibly to get their dad out of her life I can now see, or because the drugs called to her and a 3, 4 and 7 year old took up a lot of her time.
The day I met them his daughter the 7 year old had just come home from her grandma's with her hair cut. I told her how pretty she looked and was met with an unsmiling child. Not happy I was there, not happy her hair had been cut.
The 4 year old he was the quiet one, careful, watching, uncertain of me while the 3 year old when I asked him what I should do with him, sealed our fate by replying "keep me".
My heart broke and even though there was no love, we got along, had a few things in common and these children needed a mom, so what little they had they moved in, 2 months after meeting they started their life with my family.
My family at that time was my 18 year old daughter in college who took over the master bedroom for peace and her own bathroom and the three children took one room, their dad and I the small last bedroom.
Shortly after we got together we went on a day trip. As the husband came around to pump gas I heard him saying something and got out to see what had happened. He was face to face with the kid’s mom, the mom who deserted them and left them alone for 2 days before anyone called the husband. That he had to take them that day to raise after going first to the emergency room to have a nail pulled from the 4 years old foot and then face Texas law until he could prove they were not neglected by him and gain full custody was still firmly planted in his mind. Why she too had come back to California was unknown.
As I tried to cool things down I finally did so by pointing at the back window of my car to three scared faces staring out the window. I told them both to grow up and got back into the car with the children to offer reassurance that everything was okay.
While driving home the husband mentioned that the kid’s mom wanted to see them, talk to them. I told him at our house so she would be chaperoned the whole time. I was pretty sure she didn't want them back but welfare does call to a drug addict. I had no real idea if she were still on drugs or had kicked them so I was not really comfortable with the meeting but decided she was their mom and they all deserved to decide on their own what was to be.
I prepared the children as best I could and the day she came over they all just stood huddled around me, their dad having left to go to the bar as to not be around her, I reassured them it was okay she only wanted to talk to them so they moved a bit closer.
The youngest came back over to me climbed up in my lap and whispered in my ear “Is that the mom”I could have cried right then and there and the mother bear in me wanted to scream at her to get the hell out of my house, how dare she leave these children behind, but I didn't and she left asking to see them again.
They saw her once more and then nothing until my, I should say her daughter but she is not her daughter, she is mine, pursued her after she became pregnant in a sense wanting to know why she left them, how she could leave them.
Never really getting an answer and letting it go.
I had always told the kids if and when they ever wanted to talk to “the mom” I would support them.BUT truth be told I was the winner here, except for the husband who will be gone soon enough, I have three more incredible children to add to my two birthed children and with a grand baby to boot I am happy with that part of my life.
Sometimes, hell all the time, I ask myself have I protected them enough. I don’t know, I hope I have, I have given it my all but yes their father is an alcoholic and yes he is not the nicest drunk, more of a verbal abuser than a caring father.
But if I hadn't taken them in, if I hadn't pulled them to me and instead left them to fend for themselves or end up in a foster home would they have grown up better for it? If I hadn't saved them who would have? I couldn't leave them so I embraced them as my own and became the mom I hope they needed.
If I had left them, given up and left this hateful man what would have become of them. I imagine they would have been separated from each other, one of his family members each taking one. These children are close and this would have destroyed them. How a family could do this I don't know but becoming part of my family they learned love, laughter, and that a family stays together no matter what.
My daughter is an incredible mother herself now, my 4 year old is 20 and in Japan with the Navy and my 3 year old is now 18 and struggling but clean now for 4 months with his anger issues under control almost free.
I have done everything in my power to show them what family means to me.
I hope I have done enough.