If there is one thing my children are good at, it is keeping me humble. I have never been more proud or more embarrassed in the space of a few seconds than with my children, and I have so many stories to prove that. They are, hands down, the most hilarious people I know.
Let me take a minute to introduce you to the cast of characters that perform nightly at my house.
Meet My Family
E: 7 years old, adopted when she was 2, fostered from 6 weeks old
S: 7 years old, adopted when she was 3, fostered from a day old, came to our house at age 3
M: 8 years old, adopted when she was 4, fostered from age 1, came to our house at age 4
J: 15 years old, adopted when he was 10, fostered from age 8, came to our house at age 8
BB: oldest brother, 16 years old, adopted when he was 11, fostered from age 9, came into our house at age 9
Husband: 42 years old; we’ve been married 20 years
Me: 39 years old
4 dogs, a turtle, and 2 goldfish
Here Come the Crazy Stories
E: Mama, did I grow in your belly?
Me: No baby, you grew in another Mama’s belly. Remember, we talked about this?
E: Ohhhh right. I told sisters they grew in another mama’s belly, and they didn’t believe me. Wait.*eyes wide in contemplation* Did this daddy put me in that mama’s belly?
Me: No, no. There was another Daddy too.
E: Oh good. I didn’t want him to do that with another lady. (We have had a kid version of “the talk” so she knows where babies come from to a degree).
Me: *increasingly uncomfortable with this conversation* Yeah, me neither baby.
E: So…what was the other belly like?
Me: I have…absolutely no idea.
E: Okay. Bye Mama. *saunters off *
S: Mama. Did you ‘dopt Hope? (a dog)
Me: Yeah baby, we sorta did.
S: So, did she grow in another Mama’s tummy or…?
Me: Well, another dog mama’s tummy.
S: *contemplates this* So, all doggies are ‘dopted by humans?
S: Do we have pictures of her with the judge?
Me: No. It wasn’t an adoption like that.
M: Daddy, what’s this song called?
Husband: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”.
M: Yes, Daddy. I hear what you hear. What is the song called?
Husband: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”.
M: *exasperated* Yes, Daddy, I hear what you hear! Can you please tell me what the song is called?!
Me: Who’s on first?
Husband: What’s on second.
M:*very angry now* I just want to know the name of the song! Why are you saying all those words?! *storms off*
J: Mom, where was I born?
Me: Like, where does your birth certificate say you were born, or…?
J: Like, what state?
Me: Do you need to know what is on your birth certificate or where you were actually born?
J: Um, I don’t know.
Me: Can you find out?
J: Nevermind, I just put Texas.
Me: That is…entirely incorrect.
J: Yeah, but it’s like, the best state so… *shrugs*
Me: …Um. Your (adoption) birth certificate says Pennsylvania, and your old one says–
J: Yeah, I don’t care.
J: Hey sister, I have a joke!
J: Knock, Knock.
S: You can’t come into my house!
J: *cracks up laughing*
This is one of my favorite stories, and it’s only funny in the context of foster care adoption, because like…what mother doesn’t know her kid’s medical history? It’s also only funny to me now in retrospect…
Let me set the scene.
It is my first day as a real-life foster mom. I have been entrusted with the care of an 8-year-old boy, a 9-year-old boy, and an infant girl. My husband is out of town for a prior engagement. These kids have not been in our house a full twenty-four hours, and I have nothing resembling a medical file yet.
Five minutes into a day at the park, the 9-year-old comes up to me, crying. He was chasing someone and ran his head into a low-hanging bridge on the playground. This is a big deal. He’s tiny for 9 and delicate looking.
I don’t know his personality at all. I have no context for if he is overacting, or very hurt. So, I scoop up the baby, the 9-year-old, and the 8-year-old and head to the car. I called my caseworker and explained what happened. Important context here: I used to be an EMT, so I know how to check for head trauma. One of the first things to look for is to see if the patient’s pupils are equal, round, and reactive to light. Now, I’ve looked at this kid, but I have never to this point looked deeply into his eyes for any reason.
So, I shine a flashlight into his eyes, and sure enough, one of his eyes has a fully blown pupil and one is … not like that. I’m freaking out. By this point, the kid’s head isn’t bothering him so much, and he’s insisting he really doesn’t need a doctor and he feels fine. Unfortunately, I’ve already called the caseworker and she’s insisting we go to the ER. Okay, fine. This is fine. Except there was a worldwide pandemic going on at the time and only one person was allowed in the ER room with the patient, meaning the baby and the 8-year-old shouldn’t be with me. I had no one else to take them. A friend from church ended up coming to sit in the waiting room with them while I sat with the 9-year old.
The doctor took one look at him, declared it was an old injury, and asked me how I could’ve possibly not known my son had a traumatic eye injury. An old traumatic eye injury. I had no excuse except to tell him I was the foster mom and we just met.
I can still feel the sting of embarrassment over the eye roll I received. The paperwork far exceeded the actual incident, but that was how we learned my boy would eventually need eye surgery for something that had happened when he was four. I learned my lesson. From then on, whenever I met a new foster child, I made sure to do a head-to-toe inspection to make sure there weren’t pre-existing injuries. My boys like to tease me about the time I freaked out over “nothing” on our first day together.
My kids are a constant source of amusement and joy. I’m so glad I get to be a part of all the silly, awkward, uncomfortable, and ridiculous stories to come.
Christina Gochnauer is a foster and adoptive mom of 5. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Letourneau University. She currently resides in Texas with her husband of 16 years, her children ages 3, 3.5, 4.5, 11, and 12, and her three dogs. She is passionate about using her voice to speak out for children from “hard places” in her church and community.