This post is part of a link up @codenamemama is doing for the month of March. My great intentions of having it done sooner were adversely affected by our recent move! Visit her blog for more stories of kindness 🙂
There is a woman in our community who inspires me. She epitomizes kindness. She cares about others and seems to be a bottomless pit of kindness. She is also real, admits her flaws, accepts her own imperfections, and isn’t afraid to tell you what she has done in her mothering, that is less than perfect. In so many ways I aspire to be more like her.
I met Carol a few years ago when our daughters were participating in a school activity together. It was only after a birthday party, though, that I saw Carol’s van. It is a 15 passenger van! As in IT.CAN.HOLD.15.PEOPLE. Now, there aren’t too many people out there who need a fifteen passenger van. Deep down inside me, I have always kind of wished to have a large family. Growing up, I imagined my kids all lining up someday, in their Sunday finest like the family in The Sound of Music. So of course, I had to ask. I stood at the end of my driveway that day, when I probably should have been wrangling birthday party attendees, captivated by the story of her family.
Carol is the mother of 4 biological children. And 4 adopted children (out of foster care). And (yes, there are more!) 5-6 foster children! For those of you who aren’t great at math, that is 13 children and a maybe! When you add in Carol and her partner, that is 15 people total, as in, the 15 passenger van is FULL. Carol has nice kids. Some of her kids have some special needs to which she gracefully attends. This woman is the essence of kindness and truly puts her actions where her heart is. I have seen her on enough occasions to know this. And watching her with her kids, I learn things about what I can do better with my own. No matter that she has all these children, she has always made time to answer my questions–about children, adoption, mothering.
Life is not always easy when you are putting your heart on the line in fostering and adoption. I was very upset to learn that Carol is experiencing a loss that most people never have to deal with. Carol recently took in a sweet baby boy, fell in love with him, began the adoption process and truly thought he was hers, only to lose the baby to the birth mother who had put him up for adoption in the first place. There was nothing she could do but grieve the loss of her child. In preparing for his departure, she put together all his things, made notes for the birth mom about his likes and dislikes, his routine, and things that give him comfort. She packed up the special clothes and toys she bought for him, and sent them along. When I spoke with her she was simply heartbroken, as any mom who has lost a child, would be. It made me very sad to think of this baby leaving the only mother he has ever known and of my friend being forced to grieve this loss while trying to be strong for her other children.
At the same time that Carol was experiencing this heart-wrenching loss, I heard about a family in my daughter’s class who had experienced a fire that leveled their house and destroyed all their possessions. The school was collecting clothing and items for the family to help them get through the end of the winter. Their family is also a big one. There are 10 kids in their family too! I didn’t think much of it as I went through our outgrown clothing, figuring with that many kids, someone probably would fit in whatever size I could come up with. I put together the bags of clothes and decided to call the school the next day. I knew this family had been living with neighbors while they figured out where they were going next and how they were going to get back on their feet. It seemed best to find out where their neighbors lived so I could take the things directly to their house rather than require an extra trip for them to pick it up. I called the school to find this out and though they had already collected enough items, they did say where the family had been living.
In case you haven’t already guessed it, it was with Carol.