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The foreign lady grabbed me and my sister and pulled us away from Mommy. I didn’t want to leave. I looked at her sad and confused as she promised, “I’ll get you back.” I am 2.
My new foster mommy took me and my big sister to the big city with all the giant buildings. We rode the really large car she calls “El tren.” Everyone walks really fast here. We go into a big building and ride the elevator upstairs. The walls are gray. My real mommy is supposed to be here. She never comes. I am sad and confused. I am 4.
I graduate from kindergarten! I am smart and move onto the next grade! Both my mommies were there cheering me on and taking pictures of me! I am 5.
My foster mommy takes me back to see my real mommy. She buys me a scooter! I’ve always wanted a scooter! But it’s red, and looks like it’s for a boy and not a girl like me. I ask my real mommy if she can get it in pink and she says yes! But I never saw the scooter again. I was 6.
My foster mommy takes me back to see my real mommy again and I see a little boy and everyone tells me he’s my brother. But he doesn’t live with me. He has a foster mommy too. My real mommy bought him a present. He was excited and opened the new box. My real mommy gave me a doll and my foster mommy is mad. My foster mommy says it’s unfair to give me something old and used, while my brother gets something new. I don’t understand but I am sad. I am 7.
My foster mommy takes me to McDonald’s. She tells me I am not supposed to see my real mommy but she feels bad, so we go there. My brother is there with his foster mommy too. My real mommy shows and we play in the jungle gym and eat Happy Meals. We go to do this again sometime later and she never shows up. At home, I am quiet. I stay in my room and hear my foster mommy talk bad about my real mommy. I am mad. I don’t understand why she said she would come and didn’t.
My foster mommy asks me if I want to become adopted. I don’t know what that means. She tells me my last name will change to theirs and this will be my new official family. I already thought this was my family but I say yes because I hate my last name. I get made fun of all the time in school because it means “Left” in English. Gonzalez sounds better than Izquierdo. And my real mommy starts to seem less and less like a real mommy. I am 8.
My older sister’s dad takes my sister away from us. He wants to take me too but I don’t know him. He isn’t my dad and I say no. But I never see my sister again. I am sad. I am still 8.
A new girl comes into our home and it isn’t the first time. A lot of girls come into the house and sleep in the same room as me, only this time my big sister is gone and I miss her. I don’t really trust anyone at this point. The new girl is quiet. I hear she went through a lot of bad stuff at her other foster house. I am happy she is okay now.
A few years go by and the adoption isn’t set in stone yet. My brother wants to stay with his foster mommy and I want to stay with mine. I see my real mommy maybe once or twice in the span of the 3 years. She seems sad to not have fulfilled her promise but tells me it will be okay. At 11, I sign my new name in the courthouse. I am asked if I want to change my first but decide to keep it because I grew to like how different it was and everyone tells me it sounds pretty. I get a lot of hugs and everyone tells me, “Welcome to the family!”
Things get weird and difficult for me growing up, and my birth mother is back in my life. She would visit me at home sometimes. She is honest about her mistakes and tells me the truth behind why I grew up the way I did. She tells me about her addiction to cocaine and alcohol and tells me she is clean. She talks to me about my real dad, how they met; how he was different from every other man she’s known and how I was conceived. I accept her apologies and forgive her for the mistakes she’s made because it’s the right thing to do. I am blessed and happy to have two mommies and a dad at home. My new adopted mommy always told me it was a gift to have two moms.
As I become a teenager, it seems easier to talk to my birth mother about things I cannot speak to my adopted mom about. She is younger and understands the struggle that I go through living at home. My adopted mom is super strict and most times, it feels controlling. I can’t watch anything I want on TV, I can’t hang with any friends from school, and my life was super routine. At a time of technological advances, I am limited to its exposure. My birth mother is more of a friend to me than a mom, though. My adopted mom starts to become jealous of this relationship and I have to tell her I love them both but I love them both differently.
My birth mom got me a cellphone for my birthday! I was 15. My adopted mom hated it and would take it away from me whenever she wanted to. She would dangle the use of the phone over me as another way to exercise her control over me, also reminding me that she was the dominant mother in my life.
Things got really hard for me at home during high school. My birth mom became a source of comfort and I confided her about the things that were happening in my life, and she would even lie so I can see my friends sometimes. My foster sister that moved in when I was 8 also helped me a lot. She understood my struggles and kept me sane. I wanted to run away a lot. I didn’t know why I was adopted anymore. I didn’t feel loved and wasn’t treated the same as my adopted mom’s children.
At 17, I applied to 20 universities outside of NYC, determined to get away. I got into Fairleigh Dickinson University in NJ and needed a Parent Plus Loan. My adopted mom wouldn’t sign, claiming she wasn’t going to go into debt for me. I was sad because I never asked her for anything and college was a dream for me. I watched her sign things for her other children: credit cards, furniture, motorcycles, the list goes on. I have seen her children rob her of money and credit, but she couldn’t do this for me? My birth mom said she would do it and she was approved. Off I went to college.
During my time at FDU, my birth mother would call me constantly, telling me she had skin and intestinal cancer and couldn’t handle chemotherapy and radiation anymore. She would tell me she wanted to die, that she has already attempted suicide several times. She would tell me I was the only person keeping her alive, that she would think of me before jumping out her 17th floor window. I don’t wish this pressure on any 18 year old.
My birth mom claimed to have won a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the city. When my PPL was denied because it didn’t match the name on my FAFSA (legally, my mom wasn’t my mom), my mother again offered to help me and my college expenses from her lawsuit money. I was counting on this money and her to stay in college. I called her “lawyer” to check the facts and got proof there was never a lawsuit. The money never came and I was out of school for a year and a half, forced to move back home, find a job, and face the reality that my mom was simply a liar who could never deliver on her promises.
At 21, I moved out my parents' home (for the second time) and moved in with my birth mom and her boyfriend because they begged me to do so, promising me freedom and the ability to live my life as I should without feeling constrained. Two weeks later, while I am at work, my birth mother calls me and tells me I can’t come back home because her boyfriend kicked me out. I felt stupid and was forced to move in with one of my foster sisters. Two years later, I moved in with my other foster sister, and these two ladies have loved me unconditionally.
Fast forward to 2017 where I begin to question whom my family really is. I have isolated myself for the last few years from my adopted family because I truly felt like they never really cared about me to a point. I still keep in contact with my adopted parents. My birth mother has been my rock, even though she’s made silly and ridiculous mistakes. I never held her against any of them, but I am honest and truthful about how I have felt. We have fought, she has made me feel significantly young at times, but I have always felt like I had to mother her as she never mothered me.
Sometime in the summer, she tells me she’s pregnant and I am upset. She is 50 years old, and just as she was getting her life together again, she starts to go downhill. She is sick and I worry for her health, and now the care and health of this unborn child. As months go by, I feel responsible to care for a child that isn’t mine because I know deep down, my mother could never care for a child the way it should be. I become attached to this unborn child and want to care for it, calling it my own. I don’t want him to live a life like mine. I feel guilty if I don’t work hard for him. I have friends and siblings who buy things for the baby. We name him Brandon Alexander Davila, BAD like Michael Jackson. I look at this as a blessing. I tell the world about him, asking for donations and gifts because neither my mother nor I have the funds to get him everything he needs.
It is January of 2018, and she is in her 8th month of pregnancy. My mother begins to act irrational. She says she’d be glad to take me to a doctor’s appointment but never does; she goes out dancing at late nights, and she begins asking people for money. She was due February 13th, and her due date was moved to the following week due to an iron deficiency. I attempted to help her set up the crib, which she avoided, but would always ask me for money. I began to question whether this was all true. My sister with whom I live with asked me if she were truly pregnant. I asked, “If she isn’t, how do you explain her belly?” My sister replied, “It could be a hernia.” When I called my mother, her abusive, heroine-loving ex answered the phone and hung up when he heard my voice. When I called back, she lied to me about who answered the phone. As I started to put together the pieces together from the sonograms not having her name on it and all of her irrational behavior, I confronted her face to face about this baby being real or a figment of her imagination.
She told me that she was telling the truth. “Who makes up a baby?” she said. I wanted to believe her, despite all the times she lied to me. My mother wouldn’t lie to me about a baby, would she? I touched her bare belly and felt it hard, but I never felt a kick. She said he wasn’t moving.
Two days later, I was supposed to meet her at the hospital where she would be induced and I would meet our future baby. Instead, I woke up to text messages saying how she bled and the baby died, and she was on suicide watch. She wouldn’t tell me where she was, and I was forced to call the police on her for a wellness check. It turned out she was home, fine, with a man I knew was the same man who hung up on me the other day. She continuously lied to me even after I spoke to the police, claiming she wasn’t home. I called the hospital where she was supposed to be induced and there were no scheduled inductions that day as it was a holiday. I called the nearest hospital to her, because if you miscarry, you would be taken to the nearest hospital, and she has not been there since 2015. I was fooled once more, and what was painful was to read text messages my mother sent me, turning it all around on me.
She said I was a liar. She blamed me for her insecurities. She called people telling them I was saying she was back on drugs, when I had people asking me if she had relapsed. At this point, it is a possibility, but I could never know for sure. She said I needed professional help when she made it clear to me that she was not on any of her psych medication. I told her I wanted her to leave me alone, as this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I wanted nothing to do with her. I wished her well as she continuously threatens my loved ones and me. And truth be told, I never felt as much as an orphan until this point. You would think I was blessed to have two families, when now I can count my true family members on one hand and most of them don’t even share the same blood as me.
Was my mother ever really my mother? I would have to say no. For years, she forced me to grow up, to nurture her because she had no one to do that for her. She forced me to grow into the strong woman I am today, knowing that one day when I become a mother myself, I will never be absent. I will never make a promise I could not keep. I will never disrespect or use my children. I will never break their trust. I will never abandon or lie to them, and most of all, I will love and protect them endlessly, always choosing them over myself because that is what a mother does. If my mother did anything right, it was teaching me who not to become. And while it is painful to let her go, I must do what I have to for myself. As an adult, I refuse to be affected again by her endless broken promises. I refuse to be heartbroken over her again. I refuse to live a life where anyone who intends to destroy an ounce of my happiness is in it.
I wish her well, as I wish everyone who has wronged me. But exclusion is best for me to go on. There are hard lessons learned, and hopefully she learned some valuable ones as I did. Because the day my mother lost her non-existent son, she officially lost her 25-year-old daughter, who was probably her biggest and only support system. Will I forgive her? One day, because I don’t hold grudges. But I could never forget how many times my mother made me feel 2 years old again. And I never thought our relationship would end this way. I pray for her, hoping one day she finds the strength, clarity and independence that I for so long, yearned and trusted her to have. But I must move on. You can’t move forward with anchors on weighing you down. My life and dreams depend on it.
I don’t write any of this looking for sympathy. But I write it to express how I have felt and so people understand why I’ve made some decisions in life. Sometimes, even the people you love most will betray, lie and hurt you. But we have the control to whom we let affect us. Sometimes, that means making difficult decisions.
If you are reading this, you are not alone. I am with you.