One day, when my daughter was still my foster child, I took her to the county offices to have a supervised visit with her birth mother. My daughter was more than a year old. As I did with all my foster children, I took a camera to the visit to take a picture of mother and child (before cell phone camera days) and told the mother I would bring copies of the photo to her. This is one of only two photos we have of Birth Mother. The other photo, which she gave me to keep, was taken in a bar – with some rather inappropriate signage in the background.

Birth Mother loved her child very much, but due to her own developmental, substance abuse and mental health issues, she could not care for her child. Birth Mother was homeless. She had unrealistic expectations, no experience with children and no family to guide or support her. She was an adult, but seemed much younger.

As I was leaving the two of them alone with a social worker, I heard Birth Mother say, ‘Where’s your mommy, point to your mommy.” I looked back to see my daughter pointing at me, not Birth Mother. This was not the answer Birth Mother wanted. This was the last time she came to see my daughter.

My daughter was right, I have always been her mommy, the one who took care of her. The one who stayed at the hospital with her when she had RSV. The one who took her to appointments. The one who read to her and tucked her in at night. The one who did all the things that mommies are supposed to do. But I couldn’t help feeling sad for Birth Mother.

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