I recently found a tiny pair of jeans and a pink chambray shirt in a random bag of clothes in the basement. They were size 6x and XS, and I recognized them immediately as the clothes Sofia wore when she arrived at our home in February 2018. It was the day after Valentine's Day, and it was an emergency familial foster placement. We thought she would only be there for the weekend, but she ended up being a member of our immediate family for four and a half years. She joined our household when Maya was nine months old, and now Maya is size 6x. So it is fitting and bittersweet that Sofia finally got to go back to her mom this summer.
We welcomed a scrawny, gap-toothed first grader in February 2018, and said goodbye to a beautiful, gangly preteen in July 2022.
Being a foster family is not easy, and being a child in the foster system is even harder. We lived in limbo for four and a half years, waiting with bated breath for each case review and court date. Not being able to receive definite answers, give definite answers, or hear definite answers was the hardest part. But having Sofia as our daughter was the best part.
We were not without strife or conflict or difficult moments. We were not without tears. But every low moment had a high moment counterpart and the smiles outnumbered the tears.
Having spent all of her cognizant life with Sofia, Maya is completely convinced that Sofia is her older sister. No matter how many times we explained that Sofia is her cousin, Maya remains resolute to this day. That relationship is a testament to their bond.
Reunification was always Sofia's desire, and we supported both her and her mom on that journey. While we were happy when this finally came to fruition this summer, it was still painful to say goodbye to our niece whom we had loved like a daughter for four years.
My favorite memory with Sofia is sitting and reading a chapter together each evening or afternoon. It was something we started in the fall of 2018 and a routine we adamantly kept for four years. In that time we read 18 novels together, which is incredibly impressive and I credit that time we spent reading together for her continued academic success despite all that she has been through.
Sofia has been back with her mom for five months now, and while the transition was not seamless, Sofia has settled into her new life and is doing well. She is in honors classes at school, had a saxophone solo at her band concert, and is on the wrestling team. We still see each other, still talk on the phone, and it makes me so happy when she still seeks me out for advice. She recently spent a weekend with us and we loved every minute of it. Although we miss her as a member of our home, I could see the difference in her demeanor now that she is back with mom. She is content and at peace, finally having the answer to the question I fielded innumerable times: when will I get to go back with my mom?