this is motherhood {too}: a journey as an unofficial foster mama.

November 27, 2013, Michaela Evanow, 2 Comments


Kay showed up with the clothes on her back and a diaper bag with a few accessories. A friend of the family’s daughter had given birth four months ago to this baby girl. She had spent two months in the hospital being weaned off the methadone she was born addicted to, and another two months with a relative who was not a good fit. So, they called us. They asked to visit, and arrived with a little girl in their arms and a request: Could you help raise her?

We couldn’t say no. They left and we brought this little one into our home. Immediately we made a quick run to the store for baby formula. It was like we had found a stray cat and needed to buy cat food, something to feed this new being. I loved her. I don’t know if it was some dormant mothering instinct or just plain sympathy, but I loved her from that very night.


She stayed with us, visiting her ‘real’ family occasionally, until one day, when she was 20 months old, she went to stay at her grandmother’s house, and they decided to keep her there. For two months we heard nothing.

My heart stayed with her, but my arms and my days were now empty. Everything reminded me of her because she had been a part of everything in my life. But then we received another phone call, from the baby’s mother. Would we like to visit with her? A couple of visits turned into “Can she stay with you a couple weeks?” which turned into – she was back! We were never legally the guardians of this child; there are probably no records anywhere to show that we’ve been in her life. The family would only take her to doctor’s appointments, and we cared for her the rest of the time.

I was painfully shy, content to hide away in the house, but with a toddler who needed interaction that just wasn’t an option. We went to story times and parks and playgroups. Walking into a room with parents I didn’t know was an impossible feat for me, similar to those mothers who had to lift cars off their children; you think it can’t be done until you have to do it.

Even though I was socially anxious, my love for this little girl overpowered the fear I felt.

It was more important to do right by her. I pushed through my fears and did what I had to do for her.

At two and a half she moved back in with her grandmother. We looked into fighting for custody and were told the best we could hope for was occasional visitation; we weren’t her family. We are no longer ‘friends’ with these people, and now see through the facade. They are actually just selfish and using us, but we keep up the act because that is the only way to stay in her life. We have no legal claim to her and I can’t give her the stability she needs because I’m not making the decisions – her family is.

foster child story

She is now four years old and with me everyday for what her family calls “homeschool preschool.” But it’s really just free play and spending time together. Her homelife is chaotic so I do what I can to be consistent and simply be there for her, which I always will be.

I don’t know how to describe her to people. She calls me “Rara,” which sounds close enough to “Mama” that people just assume she is saying that. I let them think it.

This is motherhood, too. Not the way I wanted it, not the way most people think of it, but this motherhood story fell into my lap and turning out to be a blessing. I assure you, my heart does not know the difference.

Written anonymously, edited by Michaela.

This is from the collective writing project: this is motherhood {too}. Do you have a story you’d like to submit?


  • Reply Suzanne May 8, 2014 at 3:06 AM

    Just want to say how much I resonate with this. I was an official foster mama, and bio family and I thought I was adopting the two boys I mothered from birth. In the end, everyone was lying to me and I ‘lost’ them after years. I thought of writing my story for u, but my grief overwhelms me. These types of stories r so common. We r many – foster mamas who ‘lose’ children we love, children who call us “mama”. We suffer. But our children suffer more. And that should b unacceptable to all of us.

  • Reply Jolie November 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    Wow! Thank you for sharing this important raising of a girl and a “Rara-Mama”.

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