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How I Became the Mother of a Child With a Disability at Age 62

Renate Auktor

I was a foster parent for 20 years and I thought it was time to hang up that title. But them the social worker called and asked if I could take a baby for a short time until a long term foster home could be found. He needed to leave the hospital that week.

Having said “yes” too many times in the past, that habit prevailed! He was born four months premature at 1.5-pounds and had various health concerns as well as disabilities. He was labeled as failure to thrive which meant for him, “take him home and hopefully he doesn’t die.”

I went to the Children’s hospital and there lay the most beautiful 5-month-old baby, by now 3.5-pounds — and he smiled at me. I was hooked. I took him home.

In the ensuing five years, many attempts were made to find a family to take care of him. No one qualified to manage his medical conditions, no one stepped up. He was now 5 years old, a delightful, happy little boy with global delays. The social worker said it would be very hard to find an adoptive home for him, “He belongs with you” was her observation.

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Well, darn, she was right.

I could not imagine this child who had been with me for five years going to live somewhere else. Unthinkable. So there I was, a year later, at age 62, signing adoption papers.

Was I making the right choice? There is not a day I have regretted it. I do worry I will die too soon before I have a good succession plan, but in the meantime, this is the best mother/son relationship by far.

I think more “grandparents” could consider foster care of an infant — they bring so much joy. It is a great way to give a child a healthy, happy start in life.

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