The Algebra of Love

When we agreed to take T., then 28 months old it was in February 2009. He was scheduled for a court hearing called a TPR or termination of parental rights, March 2. He would be “free” for adoption. We had hit the lottery. What we understood is that we would never have to live him and the uncertainty of him being re-unified.

On March 2 there was a snowstorm that shut down the city, cancelled court and put him back in a quasi-reunification status until July. Our adoption worker asked if we wanted to wait until the TPR before taking him, which could be July or maybe September, and at the latest, December. The equation changed – would the worst be having him and living with nine months of uncertainty that we could keep him or was the worst not having him now – or more accurately, soon because the State doesn’t do now. I had been carrying his picture in my purse for a month. I talked to him in my head every day. We loved him now.

Was X our fear or was X our hope? Was Y the snowstorm or the number of months we would wait? How do you divide the love that already exist for this child by the unknown of what is to come? Love isn’t a formula – it isn’t even a decision. You do or you don’t. We did and said yes to uncertainty.

It would still be almost another two months before we would meet him. That meeting was at a social service agency with a foster care supervisor, our adoption worker, his guardian ad litem and his then therapeutic foster mother with whom he had lived with for 12 months. I don’t know that moment in a delivery room but I know a moment like that one in an anonymous office surrounded by strangers where everything drifts away but this kid. It is a dreamy moment you live over and over again in your head and it is always beautiful and always right.

We found out later he probably wouldn’t have been TPR’d March 2 because his biological mother was still contesting it. So, X is what the State knows. But, Y is what you feel.

This entry was posted in Adopting, By Notatypicalmom, Foster care by Kari Wagner-Peck. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kari Wagner-Peck

Kari Wagner-Peck lives with her husband and son in Maine. She is a writer & storyteller who home schools with her son. She is the author of the memoir Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey, May, 2017, Central Recovery Press. She has been published at CNN, Psychology Today online, The New York Times Well Family blog, The Huffington Post, The The Good Men Project, The Sydney Morning Herald Daily Life blog, BLOOM and Love That Max among others. Author page: Twitter @KariWagnerPeck and Facebook: Email:

8 thoughts on “The Algebra of Love

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