Yes, DOUBLE MY GIFT to help families!

Yes, DOUBLE MY GIFT to help families!

Yes, Double my gift to help families!

Mother’s Day Without My Children

By Dr. Sharen Ford
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Mother’s Day shouldn’t be the loneliest day of your year.  I celebrated two Mother’s Days without my children.  There are times when no one understands you and the sacrifices you’ve made to be Mom.

Sometimes your sacrifices and choices weren’t enough to keep your kids safe.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t love them.

Love doesn’t look like love when your children’s school believes you are not doing your best to keep them safe. 

Love doesn’t look like love when you leave your child with someone who harms them. 

These poor choices cost me.  I wasn’t parenting my children.  The most important people in my life were gone.  They were now in foster care. I was their mother, but I needed permission to see them.   I wanted them back.

foster mom on mother's day without children

Mother’s Day Without Children

Since the day of their removal, I had asked God to return my boys to me.  I didn’t know how or when.  I just knew that He would help me.  As I sat in court on the wooden bench, I listened to the cases that came before mine.  I was frightened but determined.  When it was my turn I didn’t know if my voice would hold strong.  Again, I asked God for help.  I told the court that I would work with social services and signed the documents that acknowledged I had neglected my sons. 

The next few months weren’t easy.  February and March were hard. April came and went. May started off challenging as well. The Saturday before Mother’s Day was so lonely.  I wanted a drink, but I knew where that would lead. I stayed up all night crying and screaming, fighting my thoughts, worries, and fears. Where was God? It was Mother’s Day and I didn’t have my boys. I wasn’t even able to speak with them.  What could I do? Who could help me get my boys back? My sons meant and still mean everything to me. 

In desperation, I asked my caseworker for a Christian advocate.  After several weeks, one was arranged for me and Ms. W entered my life. She prayed with me and for me.  She was there when I felt desperate and alone.  

With her help, over the next year, I completed weekly parenting and anger management classes, visited the lab for random drug testing, and looked for a job. I didn’t miss an appointment, attended AA classes, and met consistently with my caseworker.

Ms. W. helped me look at my situation through new eyes.  She invited me to attend church with her which was something that even with the faith I had held onto, was new.  It allowed me to see that I was becoming someone new. 

A Heart Changed

As I grew, changed and improved my court-approved visits increased.  I went from having weekly phone visits to time with them at a local McDonald’s or library.  Each week, our time progressed to more and more time together.   These moments with my boys were like sunshine on my face.

I wish I could tell you that I was thankful to their foster family.  But I wasn’t. At least not at first.  I was jealous.  I tried to convince myself that the family wanted my children and didn’t want me to get them back.  It was the story in my head that I made up because I didn’t want to face the truth.  Their foster mom, Mrs. J*, cared for my boys and they liked her.  She never hurt them or left them unprotected. She never left them to fend for themselves, not as I had.  It hurt.  I had all these bad thoughts about her so of course, I wasn’t going to thank her for taking care of my boys.  After all, she was getting paid to do it.  However, my heart was changing.  Mrs. J hadn’t done anything to hurt me.  Saying ‘thank you’ was the least that I could do.

In the last ninety days that the boys were with their foster family, my relationship with their foster parents changed. My advocate, Ms. W had always encouraged me to attend church.  She never pushed. So, I began to go. The more I attended the more I changed.  It is where:

  • I learned that God loves me.  God was with me every step of the way. He loved me despite my mistakes.  His love wasn’t a come and go kind of love it was the real deal.
  • I learned that God is compassionate. Over and over he comforted me.  When I walked in fear and frustration, He showed me another way.
  • I found new strength and learned to lean on God. I learned to trust.  Trusting was so hard for me. But the more I trusted God the more He showed me I could make it.

Mother’s Day With My Children

The next Mother’s Day was harder than the one before.  I knew I’d get to talk with the boys.   Their foster mom called and handed the boys the phone, but they seemed so eager to get off the phone with me.  My heart hurt because I wasn’t going to see them until the next Tuesday afternoon.  They briefly talked about the cards they made for me, but it wasn’t the same as my being there with them.

That Sunday I walked into church and it was so hard. Children were everywhere, carrying flowers and cards, running up to their Mom’s and giving hugs.  I promised myself that next year, I’d be one of those Mom’s getting hugs. The service was different that Sunday.  After the children sang, the Pastor asked all the mothers to stand.  I thought, “I’m a mother, I should stand.  I’m a mother, but my kids aren’t here.” That tape kept playing in my head.  Finally, I stood.  And just as I did, two children came running my way with flowers and a card.  Their foster mom had brought the boys to my church so I could see them.  Tears fell from my face.  They didn’t burn like last year’s tears.  They were tears of joy. 

The next three months went by quickly.  I had been working for six months and had a small apartment. My church family had helped me furnish the apartment. Everything in it was honestly mine, which was a wonderful feeling. 

women supporting mother on mother's day

Joyful Reunion

Soon a new court hearing was scheduled, and I found myself sitting before the judge. As I scanned the courtroom, I saw familiar faces, my attorney, the boys’ caseworker, the county attorney, their foster mom, and several women from the church.  The proceedings began and within 45 minutes the judge was hitting the gavel announcing I had just gotten my children returned to my custody. 

Mother’s Day is now my favorite time of the year.  It took me almost losing my sons for good to realize how broken I was.  The boys’ foster mom will always have a special place in my heart. She was a mother when I couldn’t.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

-This is Ms. A’s story shared through my eyes. I had the privilege of being her advocate.

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About the Author

Dr. Sharen Ford

Sharen Ford is a nationally-recognized child welfare consultant and the retired Manager for Permanency Services for the Colorado Department of Human Services in the Division of Child Welfare Services. She retired with 30 years of comprehensive work history with the department. She oversaw six programmatic areas including the Foster Care and Adoption Program and supervised a team of professional staff. …

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