Before I was a mom, I was one of those obnoxious, smug people who assumed I had all the answers. I had a fancy degree, had read hundreds of books, and knew all the “right things”. I was 100 percent certain I knew what I was doing. Reader, I do not. I in fact had almost no answers and my degree in psychology is utterly useless against the daily insanity I face. None of the books I read described what was to happen when the surefire way they insisted would work didn’t work. And those methods didn’t work most of the time. I, in fact, am now only about 10 percent sure I know what I’m doing hour to hour.

Thankfully I’ve since learned to not take myself so seriously. At least I can laugh about most of it now. Some moments are too raw to really even think about too long, but some of these things are falling down laughing hilarious from anyone’s perspective but mine. I hope you’ll enjoy these stellar examples of adoptive mom fails.

Let me set the scene: It was our very first day as brand-new foster parents. I was ready y’all. I was pumped. The literal second the caseworker walked through my front door and thrust a very tiny baby into my arms, my belief in myself started to falter. 

When the boys came through the door, terrified of basically everything, I stared at them, wide-eyed. I whispered to my agency caseworker, “Did they bring the right kids? There is no way those kids are 8 and 9.  At least, I thought I whispered. The angry glare the older boy shot me let me know I wasn’t as quiet as I thought I’d been.   I then proceeded to do the following in no particular order: 

  • Knelt down to shake the boys’ hands “Hello” and introduced myself, and almost fell
  • Realized far too late into the motion that the kid had no idea what a handshake was and pulled back thinking I was going to hurt him
  • Spilled the very expensive baby formula all over after having just insisted I knew how to make a bottle
  • Dumped part of said bottle out on accident when I tried to twist the lid on too quickly and knocked it over in the process
  • Discovered I had remembered to buy towels and stuff for the kids’ bathroom but not things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, underwear, or anything they actually needed (I figured this out at bedtime)

And that was the first day.

Since then, my failures have only gotten more spectacular, not less. They happen less often these days, but I still walk right into them when they happen. For example: 

  • I thought I lost a Sharpie marker somewhere. I left a toddler alone in a room that contained missing Sharpies. I was gone for a minute tops. She had scribbled all over her own face and legs, the dog, the walls, and the table in that time. The dog
  • I told my 7-year-old to “walk it off” when she was complaining of stomach pain while on a bike ride. Except. Well. She would not stop crying. So I called the doctor to ask some questions. My poor girl had appendicitis and needed to be transported to another hospital because she was so tiny the surgeon on call refused to operate.  I will never stop feeling bad about this. 
  • I told the pediatrician to check my kids for mango allergies since I had one and I wanted to make sure. I was unsure why she was laughing at me. Then realized, oh right, they were adopted.
  • Similarly, when asked about the medical history of my son, I said there was a history of heart problems on my dad’s side but that was mostly it. Again, I watched the doctor start to giggle as she realized I’d done it again. 
  • I stood in an aisle at the grocery store and watched in horror as my adopted children told every stranger they could see that I wasn’t their real mommy and that I was being mean to them. I left the store with no groceries and three angry children. I’m almost certain someone was going to call the police. 
  • I told my neurodivergent child to “take a breath” when she was starting to spiral. I watched in fascination as she stared at me in confusion while holding her breath, cheeks puffed out. When she puffed out that breath she looked at me and asked, no word of sarcasm, “Can I take another breath now?”  
  • I told their counselor about my family’s mental health history as if that would be any sort of help in their evaluation. Again, they were adopted.
  • I told my son that eating in his room was not allowed while I was eating a granola bar in his room. He called me out.
  • I put the wrong birthday on every signed paper for my daughter for a whole year. I realized my mistake at a doctor’s appointment when the insurance wouldn’t go through. 
  • I spelled their names wrong.
  • I walked right into a power struggle and realized I was in the power struggle roughly 10 minutes in.
  • I forgot that not everyone knows that childhood trauma can cause “bad” behavior. I forgot that I’ve shorthanded that by saying, “they were adopted from foster care” as an explanation for their behavior. I watched a teacher staring at me for almost a minute before asking what exactly that had to do with my son throwing spit wads at people. She had a fair point if I’m being honest. 

My point is that I’m still learning. I will be learning until the day I die. Every day my kids teach me something new about myself and others. Some of it’s fantastic and some of it’s horrifying but I’m glad I get to be a part of it either way. And I’m glad pre-kid me has mellowed out a bunch, even if I wish she had been a little more put together than she turned out to be. 

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