My story is unique but at the same time becoming all too common. I am raising someone else’s child. A child that I have no biological ties too. He came into my life about two years ago and I have loved him as my own ever sense the day I laid eyes on him in a small court room. I had actually gone to give moral support to my ex-husband who had found out through DNA testing that he indeed was the father of a little blue-eyed boy who just had his first birthday. We had been divorced for several years but had remained friends and he was not exactly sure what he wanted to do about the child an even greater concern was that he had found out that she had done drugs while pregnant and he was afraid that the child may have been born with a handicap. Since I was not allowed into the Judge’s chambers while they discussed visitation, child support, and legal issues I remained in the waiting room.
While I sat there flipping thru a magazine, an older lady walked in with a child—a curious and equally cute little boy that immediately set to crawling around the room when his feet hit the floor. He crawled over to where I sat and began taking the magazines out of the basket on the floor next to me and handed them to me one by one. I instantly recognized those beautiful blue eyes of my son and his father. I knew that this was my son’s half brother and as he smiled at me, I knew we had made our first connection. Little did I know within a few months he would forever change my life. The mother, not wanting my ex to see the baby, whisked him away without a word, leaving him to wonder about this child that he still had never seen. I assured him the child appeared to be developing well and there did not appear to be any obvious signs of any problems due to her drug use—but, of course, only time would tell. He had agreed to pay child support but didn’t request regular visitation he wanted to pay his money and be done with it. I was totally taken back at the fact he wanted nothing to do with the baby.
I know the circumstances, while not ideal, are what they are and the baby did not ask to be forced into a life with a drug mom and an absent father. I told him under the circumstance he owed it to the baby to at least make sure he was being taken care of in light of the drug and alcohol abuse by the mother. He told me if I was that concerned, I should make sure he was taken care of—so I said I would. That was the beginning of my relationship with my son Isaiah. I would pick him up from the mother he would always be dirty and in need of a bath but always seemed to look forward to spending time with my self and his two older brothers. As time went on, I became aware of how into drugs she really was and it soon became apparent that she was in no condition to raise a baby the environment was not safe and he was being neglected. It wasn’t long before CPS was called and his father and myself found ourselves again in court this time trying to figure out what was best for Isaiah; the mother was court-ordered to treatment and I volunteered to keep him on a temporary basis until she got clean and sober. The courts gave her ninety days.
Wow! What a step back. My children were teenagers and here I was, a single mom of a toddler, starting over again with nothing. Having another baby was not in my plans, but here was this wonderful little boy that just wanted somebody to love him and take care of him and keep him safe and I knew that the place he needed to be was with me. A couple of years have passed since then. The mom’s still in and out of rehab and having another baby—this one was not so lucky and was born with health issues. His father sought and was given full custody with the mom being given an few hours a week of parenting time which she seldom keeps. Dad let him stay with me because, of course, raising a toddler is a lot of work and he has still had a hard time coming to terms with being a father to this child. He can’t separate the disdain he has for the mother and responsibility he has to his child. So I have become mommy I have been with him thru tonsillectomies, learning to walk and talk playing and learning our ABCs and 123s my whole life centers around him.
Recently I lost my job and with the economy the way it is, I have been forced to look outside of Michigan for a job. This is a heart wrenching decision; my ex doesn’t want me to leave so he refused my request for guardianship. Neither of them want the responsibility of the day-to-day raising of Isaiah, but they say that I am not his “real” mom so I don’t have the right to take him. So we are left to question: whose child is he ? Does he belong to the mother that chose addiction over motherhood, or to the father that can only see how things affect him and not the children—or does he belong to the person he calls Mommy? To the one that lives in the house he calls home? The one he cries for in the night and knows his favorite food is a hot dog and his favorite color is blue and his favorite cartoon is Scooby-Doo? I guess there is no right or wrong answer to that question—just a heartfelt answer that I have come too far to turn back now. He is not just my son and my responsibility; he is a part of me, a part of my heart and soul as if I had given birth to him myself. We were walking up the driveway last night and he looked up at me, smiled, and took my hand. I was reminded of a small waiting room in the court house when this same smiling face looked up and at me and forever changed my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way because he is and will always be my son.