In 2016 my 16-month-old identical twin boys were removed from my care due to drug use and domestic violence.
I will never forget just how broken and lost I felt in that moment. I am not a bad mom and I am not a bad person, but I went through some serious emotional pain that I was not equipped to handle, and I made choices that had massive consequences. I was hurting. I was struggling. I was trapped. I wanted to be well, to get better and be the person that I knew I was capable of being, but I was unable to change by myself. I desperately needed help, but I had no idea who I could ask or how to get help.
It sounds strange to say now but having them removed was the best thing that could have happened for all 3 of us. It opened my eyes to a life that I was NOT willing to accept, and it pushed me to do whatever it took to get well and bring them home.
During the entire process of having children in foster care and working to prove I was a capable and safe parent, the most important thing I had to do was humble myself. The surest way to fail my babies was to hold onto my pride and my ego. My pride wanted me to believe that I could win this thing by blaming anyone but myself, my ego didn’t want to be bruised. Deep down, though, I knew what I was capable of and that the love for my babies would keep me going even though I had a long road to travel to get there.
The boys were placed with a local foster family, the Martinez family, who welcomed the boys into their home with open arms and showed them unconditional love like they were their own. They were kind and respectful towards me, and I never felt judged or looked down upon for the situation I had gotten us into. Brittany, their foster mom, sent me pictures and updates regularly. There were certainly moments that were difficult, but the consistent reminders of who I was doing this for also kept me in the present moment. On the days where I felt too exhausted to keep going, I would get a picture and think “okay, what is my next step to getting them home?” When I first got clean, I had no car; I barely had the clothes on my back. Brittany would drive the 45 minutes between our towns as often as she needed to for therapy and visits, and she was always happily willing to make the drive. What a gift it was to never feel like a burden to her or her family.
Once I had some sobriety under my belt and was showing them that I was truly working to get them back, she started to offer up extra visits and told me I could come out to their house anytime to see the boys. She helped them make Happy Mother’s Day coasters with their handprints on them knowing how hard Mother’s Day would be separated from them. She would give me the crafts they made as keepsakes. She even had a canvas photo printed of the 3 of us printed out and gave it to me as a Christmas present to hang on my wall while I did the work to bring them back home. Brittany showed me how to be a better mom while she was parenting my boys, and she continues to show me how to be a great mom still today just by being who she is.
We created such a strong bond. Their family was so intertwined with ours that even when the boys came back home for good, we still nurtured that relationship. The Martinez family would have them over for sleepovers, birthday parties, swim in their pool, and just spend time at their house with them like they always had. The boys never knew any different.
It’s been 5 years since our case was closed and we’re closer with the Martinez family than we ever have been. They were some of the very few people who were there when my now husband and I got married. We do birthday parties and they come to soccer and baseball games, the boys spend weekends over there, we do Easter and Thanksgiving together. We even went on a summer family vacation together to Florida last year. They were the first people at the hospital when we welcomed our new baby into the world, and they’ll continue to be there for all our biggest moments. They’ve become some of our closest friends and I would absolutely call them family. The time that my boys spent in the foster care system was so incredibly hard, and I’m not sure we would’ve made it out together if it wasn’t for the empathy and support that Bobby and Brittany showed me over and over and over again. And for that I am forever grateful.