Today, our boys, my husband, and I all went to family court. We were asked our names. Then, as we fidgeted quietly, the judge, the lawyer, and the social workers worked out the paperwork. Twenty minutes later the social worker gave me the documentation stating that my stepsons are now legally my sons.
Why adopt these man-boys now? After nearly ten years of being their live-in mother-figure? They are not little kids – one can even vote. The reason is simple. They asked me.
After court, we went out for a family lunch, and then back to work, doctor’s appointments, errands, groceries and more. Now, I am sitting in bed and thinking about the day.
What does it mean to me to parent these boys who lost their mom way too young? It means being okay with being number two. I chose to make these boys mine, with my eyes wide open that I am the lesser option. Each time that I come up short – say the wrong thing or fail to bring the right comfort when needed – that lurking feeling rises, that their real mother would have done better.
They don’t call me Mom. They call me by my first name. My sister’s young daughter-in-law and son-in-law both call her Mom which surprised me, and about a year ago I asked the boys if they wanted to call me Mom too. They looked back at me with a look that said: “we don’t want to offend you, but what for?”
To these boys, I am the “soft” parent, and my husband, their biological parent is the primary parent. That is, I get equal responsibility and blame for the day-to-day, but on critical matters, the biological parent disciplines and makes the final decision.
Sounds thankless? Sometimes. But not today. It’s family. My family. I chose them and they chose me.