Parenting can be a really tough job--some would say the toughest. The responsibility of raising children can be challenging, demanding, and strenuous; however, it is also rewarding, fulfilling, and gratifying. In 1996, I found myself in a unique situation when I decided to adopt my daughter. I was a college grad, homeowner, and had a great job. I was more than prepared to take on this monumental responsibility, but I was aware that such a responsibility was not going to be easy. Today as I look back on that decision, I wouldn't change a thing. Twenty-five years ago, I received many questions surrounding my decision to seek custody and become my daughter's guardian. The one question asked the most was, “why are you taking on this responsibility?” Many said, “you’re so young, are you sure you’re ready to be a mom?” People also asked, "why do you care?" And the biggest one was, “how are you going to do it all by yourself?” According to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, out of over 61,000 children and youth who were adopted in 2018, of the families who adopted children from foster care 68% were married couples. The remaining were 25% single females, 3% single males, and 3% unmarried couples. I found myself in the quarter percentile of those who adopt. There were a few reasons I decided to adopt, but the number one reason was because I realized I could love and provide for her in ways she truly deserved. And I knew I could do what needed to be done to give her the best life and future. Before I became her mom, I was her big sister through Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. This program brought us together as big sister and little sister and after the death of her grandmother--who was raising her--she was in need of a guardian. I never thought that I could provide for her, but in that moment, I knew becoming her guardian was the right thing to do. Almost overnight, I turned my role as mentor to the privilege of mother. While I knew I could do it, there were some challenges. The biggest challenge was our age difference. I was only eleven years older than her when I became her mom. The age difference would be just fine if I were her sister, but I found myself now as her mother. We never for a moment let that affect our relationship. She was very respectful and listened to me in my role as her guardian. Even today, she continues to look to me for motherly advice as she leads her daughter and often thanks me for the lessons I taught her about life and motherhood. I have given myself many goals over time and have been pretty successful in achieving my goals. I would have to say my biggest goal was to be a good mom and raise a good person. My daughter has grown up to be a beautiful woman, a great mother and wonderful human being. She has been my greatest reward and I wouldn’t change a thing about being a young single mother. I thought I was being a blessing to her when in turn, she has been a blessing to me as I decided to be a single mother by choice.
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