Ronderik (RD) lived the first 14 ½ years of his life in the foster care system. I am his 13th and final home. I met him in April of 2012 when he was 14 ½ years old. He was working with Breun, an amazing WWK recruiter. After meeting them both at an adoption event for older kids, Breun showed me the video they’d created together to give me a glimpse of who he is. I’d already had the overwhelming feeling of knowing he was my son the moment I laid eyes on him, but after watching his video, I knew that we’d be a forever family. In his video, I learned he loved to draw, dreamt of going to Disney for his birthday, wanted a forever family, and was someone who never gave up on his dreams.
RD chose his bio birthday to finalize the adoption – it was November, which is National Adoption Month. He never had a real birthday party before, and I usually tend to plan a birth-month celebration. When I found out my son had never had a birthday party, I planned the trip of his dreams to Disney in early November to begin the celebration. My very favorite moment was when we went to the Hall of Presidents. Midway through the show, I looked over and he had tears rolling down his cheeks. When I asked him why he was so emotional, he told me that he’d dreamt of this his whole life. The previous year he did a report on Abraham Lincoln and seeing the animatronic Abe in front of him touched his heart. He said, “This is the best day of my life.”
RD’s “Big Day” (bio 15th birthday and finalization day) was pretty incredible. We had a packed courtroom with family, friends, case workers who’d known him almost his whole life, and an amazing judge. After the finalization, we had a celebration with more than 80 people who filled the ballroom for RD’s very first birthday party. We had music, dancing, and great food. RD floated around the room thanking everyone for coming to his Big Day and offered to sign autographs. He was on cloud nine and said that his Big Day was the best day of his life.
Having grown up in the system, RD never learned how to swim. When we first met, he’d barely sit on the edge of the swimming pool. Lessons were very scary for him in the beginning, but once we found the right teacher, he did incredibly well. Since then he’s snorkeled and kayaked in Key West, canoed down the Hillsborough River, been to three different water parks, and swam with dolphins, manatees and even sharks. Each new experience we had with each other, he’d end the day by telling me, “Mom, this was the best day of my life!”
Mother’s Day this year was incredibly special. Ronderik worked with his teachers and ordered me a pretty pink cake. He hand made a very special card for me, and treated me like a queen all weekend long. At the end of the day Sunday, he took a deep breath and sighed, “Mom, this was the best Mother’s Day ever.” I agreed, and he added, “It was my very first Mother’s Day as a son! Mom, this was the best day of my life.”
Just last week, RD brought home his best report card ever. I shared the following on Facebook: Proud mom moment!!! RD brought home his best report card yet!!! 4 Bs, 1 C, and 1 D (he was so close with a 69!) He didn’t miss a day of school in the first 9 weeks (was late only two times for pre-planned appointments) and one of his teachers commented that he had a good attitude. When he read it, he told me no one had ever made him feel like he was smart, or that he could ever do any better than failing or barely passing. Monday, he said, was the best day of his life.
Being a single mom to a teenage boy who’s lived his whole life in foster care isn’t always easy. There have been times, even after finalization, that RD thought he’d done something to ‘make me give him back.’ We constantly work on what unconditional love means, and that I am his Mom and his forever family. We work on behaviors that were learned by changing homes and families every year. No matter what we face, I always tell him how much I love him and that I will always be his Mom.
Submitted by Tammy Curtis of Tampa, FL.