Welcome to 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days, hosted by Portrait of an Adoption. This series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying adoption experiences and perspectives. 

By Josie Mae Rigney

“What the flip?”
“Say bubble nuggets!”
“I have four girlfriends… well, I just got that one.”
“Son of a cracker!”
“I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it today or yesterday or tomorrow!”

High highs and low lows – sometimes I think I am not cut out for this, and other times, I think it is all I can do. He called me mom on the second day. He called Eddie dad. He climbs on me like I am a tree and doesn’t like to be alone.

I sit with him while he brushes his teeth. I read while he plays. I realized I don’t know how to play anymore. He will argue about anything. He got mad when I said that I wasn’t worried about Chuckie getting me at 3 am if I watched the movie. He got scared of the Five Nights at Freddie movie toys and spiders. He sleeps with a night light, plays with the cats, and is gentle with the dog. He does the running man at breakfast. When he got scratched, he came to me with tears in his eyes.

Now, he brags. He loves Sonic, Spiderman, and Ninja Turtles, but Sonic most of all. Eddie surprised him and sewed up his Spiderman suit while he was at camp. He plays Minecraft and Roblox, for hours if I let him. He argues about meals, wanting whatever he doesn’t have. He says he worries about being fat, but at age eight, he probably weighs less than 40 pounds. He throws fits over the strangest things, and if we are in public, and he is upset, he will run away just to see if we chase him, but he doesn’t want to be treated like a baby. He loves Legos.

He has a mom, and she calls about once a week. When you talk to her about what is going on, she gets defensive. Both he and his mom have said that if he is bad, it is not his fault because he has been through a lot.

I have decided that parents, parents in general, are some sort of twisted sadists-masochists, but I can’t give up or stop or say no or give in. He can pout for hours and love for days. He told me he doesn’t like to read when he first got here a week ago.

This morning he told me it was his favorite subject in school. We read every night before bed and each night he falls asleep faster and faster. We read on the couch. We read comics and graphic novels. We read about animals: sharks, deer, ants, and insects. He told me he knows everything, but he looks to me for every answer, and tomorrow he says goodbye, when he wants to stay.

I barely know where he came from; I don’t know where he’s going. He has two backpacks. One with a broken strap, for day camp, and one with four pairs of shorts, 7-8 shirts, socks, and underwear… oh yes, and a Spiderman costume. We added a plastic sword, a few cars, coloring books and pencils, a toothbrush, and not much else.

My mother says she needs to spoil me a little, that she never gets me anything, that she wants to do more for me, and we are going on a cruise where she largely bought me a wardrobe. His mother called once a week while he was living with strangers. She texted “Be good to my boy.” A father figure called once. Each of these phone calls lasted less than five minutes. She said she was doing her best, but we are not supposed to judge.

We are supposed to go into this and do our best, and reserve judgement. But I am Judgy McJucdgeface, but none of this matters, because he leaves tomorrow to go to someplace and someone new.

Eddie wants a girl. I want a girl, but mostly I want a child, but regardless of all of this, I leave for a month-long trip in a few days, and we were told this placement would only be a week. It was only a week.

We are fingers crossed, papers signed, and I’s dotted, 3/4ths of the way through adopting a little girl who is his age from another state. Who knows who she will be or how we will do? This process started long before the 8-year old boy was in the picture, before he was a twinkle in this mother’s eye, and I think Eddie knew I wouldn’t be able to say goodbye to a child, but he said yes anyways because he was sick of fighting me every time, every time they called for a placement. I didn’t know the boy existed, and he didn’t know me.

They called for a five-year-old angry boy, for an eighteen-year-old woman’s one night stay, who couldn’t settle, and didn’t last in her placement after us, (We found plastic nails everywhere, and Eddie said she couldn’t come back), for a teen boy who needed to stay a week, for a seventeen-year-old boy who needed one night, then, for this boy, this eight-year-old boy who stayed a week, who gets so mad, but feels bad when he says “pissed” and says “Son of a cracker!” with a straight face, this boy who loves Sonic, and says he knows everything.

How do you leave in the morning not knowing where you are coming home to at night? How do you go, not knowing if you will ever come back? How do parents drop their kids off every morning and just trust they will be okay? There is so much trust we must have in this world, and these kids can’t trust anything, and then, we wonder why they can’t trust anyone.

Josie Mae Rigney is new to the world of respite, foster care, and adoption. She and her husband Eddie want to adopt. She is convinced this journey is meant to lead them to unexpected places. She is a dreamer who can’t say no and doesn’t always know her limits. Her husband is anxiety ridden but wants to do anything to make her happy, and they are trying to become more than just a family of two with a lot of animals. 

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Carrie Goldman is the host of Portrait of an Adoption. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and bullying prevention educator. Follow Carrie’s blog Portrait of an Adoption on Facebook and Twitter