For Mother’s Day, I will share a little about my family and my journey toward motherhood. It has not been an easy journey, but there is little of it that I would change.
This is a picture of me, my stepson Rowan, and his mother Brigid.
Rowan is over three years old now. I consider myself extremely blessed to have the family that I do. Brigid and I consider one another friends, which is not something that often happens in mother-stepmother relations. Brigid, my husband Ed, and I all agree that Rowan is lucky to have three parents instead of two.
What happened in the past that got us into a three-parent situation doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are all on the same page now – we have respect for one another and all care about what Rowan’s future holds for him. And we will all do what’s best for him. That doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but he will always know that all three of us love him dearly, that we all care what happens to the other, and he will never know the pain that many children do when families break apart.
A few weeks ago, my friend became extremely ill and needed to spend some time in the hospital. She called me up because she didn’t have anyone else to watch her children. Despite the campaign, and that it would take me off the task of knocking doors, I agreed to take them in without hesitation. Ed and I figured the rest out later.
Meet Callie and Courtney. Courtney’s the one we’re looking at like she’s in trouble. (She probably was.)
Ed and I had the girls at our apartment for about a week. The experience was wonderful – it felt wonderful to be full-time parents for a little while.
It also reminded us of what we’ve given up to take part in this primary.
Last year, we became licensed foster care parents, with the intent of adopting a little girl in DHHS custody. Ed and I both know that any child that comes to us from state custody is going to be suffering from trauma and loss, and she would need us to be very hands on with her. When we started this run, no one else was interested in running against an incumbent, so we jumped in.
We spent evenings planning a campaign while also poring over adoption websites, looking at photos and biographies of children, and sending out lots of paperwork to lots of workers in different states. We started seeing some results, and began getting excited. We were in line to adopt a little girl from Nebraska. Finally, it was happening: I was going to be a mother.
But then a new supporter of ours, feeling positive after her own electoral successes, decided to run for the seat herself. The primary was on. It was clear to everyone involved that a primary would drain too much of our time, and so another adoptive family had that little girl placed with them instead. We stopped looking at the websites, and we told the other workers that our available time had evaporated.
I spent a little while digging through the different emotions that I felt. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t feeling hurt. I considered dropping out of the race to continue on the path toward adoption. In the end, I decided to stay in the race despite the primary.
I stayed in mostly because of what I’ve seen happening to other parents during the past few years. My father told me today that he has never seen so many young families at the Waterville food bank he volunteers at as he has this past week. The Republicans have been dismantling program after program – TANF, MaineCare, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation. Now they’re going after Head Start.
I stayed in because my problems are so completely and utterly insignificant when compared to the idea of losing access to food and shelter. There are so many kids in our foster care system now that it is filled to bursting, and now we will have no choice but to take more kids from their parents. Not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because Republicans in Augusta have taken the food out of their mouths and the roofs from over their heads.
I stayed in because I don’t want that mother’s child. I don’t want a child who was taken from their mother because our elected officials took away her ability to afford a place to live. Saving a child from a lifetime of abuse is important. But adopting a little girl whose mother never did anything but love her, care for her, and try to do everything she could for her – that feels a lot like stealing. And it makes me feel sick.
Running for office has been one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I’m continuing to push through and do everything I can to win because I know these parents personally. They’re scared. They need help. And we need to help them. That is why I am still here, and why I hope that I’ll be the last one standing in June and November. These parents need an advocate, someone to stand up for them and tell people in power, “No.”
My journey to motherhood waits so their journey as parents can continue.