52: Already Mom

52: Already Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive for Kids

Already Mom

Adoption is when a child grew in its mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.

~Author Unknown

“I don’t get it. Why are you adopting us?” The entire family, all six of us, had gathered in the living room to have one of our family discussions. Mom looked serious as she tried to explain.

“Your father and I were talking with Mr. Peterson, our lawyer, and the truth of the matter is he said it would be best if I legally adopted the three of you.”

“The three of us?” I asked.

“Yes. You, Lisa and Robbie.”

I looked at my older brother Robbie, who seemed to understand what she was saying.

I looked at my older sister Lisa, who nodded in agreement.

I looked at my little sister Jenny, but she just looked away.

The four of us kids sat while Mom explained, “Look at it this way. You know I am your mother, right?”

We all nodded.

“And I know that I am your mother. But we have to make it legal so everyone will know. We need to go to court and have a judge rule on it. When we go to court and the judge says I am your mother, the entire world will know.”

I guess I appeared clueless because my big brother, who was already in ninth grade, said in his usual rude manner, “It’s like this — if Dad croaks and some other relative wanted to, they could say that Mom wasn’t blood and they would have the right to take us away from her.”

At last the light went on. I finally understood.

My birth mom died when I was eighteen months old. My dad remarried six months later. When my “stepmom” married my dad he had three kids: me, two years old; my sister, Lisa, four; and my brother, Rob, five. Four years later my sister Jenny was born. I was so young when my mom passed that I never considered my “stepmom” anything but my mom and my “half-sister” anything but my sister, so this whole legal thing confused me.

“We have an appointment Thursday to go to court and talk to the judge,” Mom said.

“But that’s a school day,” Lisa said.

“Well, guess what? We are taking the day off!” Mom replied.

“P-a-r-t-y!” was all Robbie could say as he danced around the living room.

“Listen up everybody. When we meet with the judge he will ask each of you questions about me, our family, and our home life. He will ask you if you feel that I take good care of you. Do you feel safe? Do you love me?”

I looked at Jenny, who had her head down.

“I’m going to tell him how mean you are and that you lock me in my room and…” Robbie teased.

Mom just shot him a look… that look.

“Okay. Okay, I’ll behave,” Robbie said.

Minutes later I looked over and Jenny was gone.

“What’s wrong with Jenny?” Lisa asked.

“Why? Where is she?” Mom asked.

“She ran to her bedroom,” Lisa said.

We all went to Jenny’s room and found a sobbing bundle hidden under a heap of blankets and stuffed animals.

“Pumpkin, what’s wrong?” Mom asked, as she gently lifted the covers off our hysterical sister. Jenny was crying so fiercely that she could barely breathe, let alone tell us why she was so upset.

Finally, after some deep breaths she stopped and just stared at us.

“I thought you loved me,” she finally squeaked out.

“I do. We all do. Why would you say that?” Mom asked.

“But you don’t love me as much as you love them.”

This time Mom was the one who looked confused.

“You know I love you. I love you all.”

“But you don’t love me enough to adopt me.”

For the first time that afternoon there was complete silence as we all tried to understand what Jenny had just said. Then it occurred to us. With all the family meetings and discussions, we never realized that Jenny, as young as she was, didn’t understand that legally she did not need to be adopted.

Mom smiled as she took Jenny on her lap and explained that Lisa, Robbie and I were born from a different mother but that we were a part of her heart. Jenny was her birth daughter, born of her body. She was already legally hers so she did not have to be adopted.

We all hugged her, except Robbie who messed her hair and called her a doofus.

That Thursday we all drove to the courthouse. Mom made us dress in nice clothes. Robbie kept pulling on his tie. Lisa kept pulling on her dress. I kept pulling on my hair as we waited to meet the judge.

When it was our turn to appear in front of the judge he asked each of us if were happy and if we wanted Mom to be our mom forever. Of course Robbie had to be smarty-pants and say he’d think about it, but quickly laughed and said “Yes, of course.” When the judge asked Jenny what she thought, she looked at all of us, smiled, and said, “I’m happy that we are all adopting each other.” So, together we raised our right hands and swore that what we had told him was the truth and nothing but the truth.

~Jeanne Blandford

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