I always wanted to be somebody’s mother. Since I was six, I would fantasize about holding my baby, dressing her and loving her. I shared so much love and laughter with my own mother, Helen Ruset, that I wanted to have that with my baby. My dream baby was always a girl. We would have matching outfits, me and mini-me.
So when I found myself divorced at 40 with no children, all I could think was, “This is not my plan.”
I began my quest for Mr Right. I looked online, went on singles trips, and allowed myself to be fixed up. I never found him. Clearly, the universe had him going in a different direction.
After six years of looking for him, I decided to adopt a baby.
I had a successful home-based business and a four-bedroom house. It made sense, right? Except I was adopting a baby at 46 and my support system was my 80-year-old mother.
My mother was affiliated with an organization called Jewish Adoption Family Care Options (JAFCO). They offered adoption training classes for prospective foster parents who ultimately wanted to adopt. I took the class, planning to go straight to a private adoption. But after the class held a panel discussion on foster parents vs. private adoption, my mom said to me, “Become a foster mother. Help the child that has no one.”
She was right.
My first foster baby was a beautiful six-pound redhead, Sabrina, who was born with drugs in her system. I loved her. But after 15 months she was reunited with her birth father. That day, I kissed him on the cheek and wished him well. Deep inside, my heart was breaking.
But soon after, JAFCO called me about a three-month old girl, Lena, who was found in a crack house with her 17-year old birth mother. God had a much better plan for me and Lena. We both needed each other. I needed to care and love Lena and she needed to be safe and loved. Certainly, we were a match made in heaven.
A few months later, my phone rings and it’s JAFCO. Little Bree was 10 days old, born in the back of a Winnebago. Did I want to take her home? I thought, “These people must be crazy, giving me two babies.” How would I manage?
My mother came to the rescue. She lived with us until she passed away in 2016. One of the best gifts I ever gave the girls was that they got to live with their bubby.
I was able to adopt Bree in 2011 and Lena in 2012. Those were two of the happiest days of my life.
My girls will celebrate their B’not Mitzvah this December. Their theme is Hanukkah and I can’t think of two better miracles. Their mitzvah project is raising money for JAFCO. I am kvelling, one proud Jewish mother of two beshert daughters.
Wendy Berkowitz is the owner of Sistersgotitall.com, an online company selling candy, popcorn and party favors. She is actively involved in Jewish Adoption Family Care Options (JAFCO), speaking at events and fundraisers, and as an advocate for neglected and abused children. The family lives in Weston, Florida.