Mothergood Feature: Jaclyn Hulburt
The questions are as follows:
1. Tell us about your background and a little bit about who you are?
I am a California native, married to my high school sweetheart, and previously worked in special education before becoming a mom. After 100+ hours of classes, my husband and I received our license to parent. In the past two years, I have been a mom to five children—ages newborn to 5-years-old—and I am currently a stay-at-home mom to two of the cutest little girls who are 19 and 20-months-old.
For my husband and me, this December will mark two years of foster parenting, and this November will be the first anniversary of finalizing our daughter’s adoption.
2. What do you find most fulfilling about motherhood? the most challenging?
The most fulfilling parts of motherhood have been my children’s achievements. Our 5-year-old asks for vegetables and turns down junk food. Our 2-year-old recently picked out a new pair of shoes and let us do his hair for the first time after coming to us in a diaper too many sizes too small, a zip-up sweatshirt, and dirty pants.
After coming home from the NICU, our babies fought through countless days and nights of withdrawal as we held them tight. After a difficult start to her life, our daughter has been able to form healthy attachments with adults and has started re-bonding with her mom. Our daughter and her mom have worked tremendously hard to reach a point where reunification is on the horizon, and we will be saying goodbye to her. Every milestone our children achieve with us is fulfilling, but, at the same time, we also recognize that their parents are missing out on these precious moments.
The most challenging part of motherhood has been balancing all that comes with being a foster parent—between multiple appointments a week, children who have come from different parenting styles, and trying to incorporate our own parenting style to fit what they need. Parenting from a trauma-informed lens, and living in a place of trauma, is HARD and just part of our daily life because foster care and adoption are not without trauma.
It is the countless emails, texts, and phone calls that you receive from fellow foster parents, or social workers looking for a bed for a new child who is entering foster care, or who is having to leave emergency housing because they are past the allotted time allowed. The harsh reality that there are not nearly enough licensed foster homes for the number of children entering care hits home almost daily. It is having to say no because you just cannot mentally, physically, emotionally, or legally accept any new children into your family because you are at full capacity. The No’s we have to give, and the reality of lack of homes, is the most challenging part because at the end of the day the number one thing all these babies need, unconditional love, is also the number one reason why most people are afraid to do foster care, because they fear they can’t give that.
Being a transracial family and parenting children from all walks of life, especially right now, is a challenge. It is hard to know that I will never fully understand what my children will experience. We cannot ignore the racism and inequality in the world, especially here in the United States. It is our job and our duty to raise strong children who are proud and confident in their skin. I find myself constantly striving to break down unknown biases I once had and educating friends and family on why certain things matter and are inappropriate or need fighting for. I know that some are going to disagree with me, but that is their choice and I have to stand up for my daughters, sons, and all my future children.
Then, there is saying goodbye to our kids. There is nothing to prepare you for the goodbye, and each goodbye has been so different. The good bye’s hurt, and they break you. But, as adults we pick ourselves back up, take a break
from foster care, and jump back in because there are still more kids who need to be loved and more families that need a cheerleader. Although with each goodbye we receive a new scar, that scar heals and makes us a little bit stronger.
3. What does motherhood look like for your right now? what do you love about where you are? what would you change?
Right now motherhood is chasing around two under two, trying to keep up with the energy and tantrums that come with a child bouncing from house to house, and lots of outside and playtime. We just started weekly gymnastics class and preschool once a week. It is also balancing various appointments, such as therapies, play dates, worker visits, transportations to and from visitation, and finding time to relax and be with my husband. Both girls are currently very into sensory play, and our favorite morning and evening activity is to play with water beads as a way to help calm down. I love being a mom and watching my daughters play together. Watching their little friendship form the way they hold each other's hands, give hugs and kiss to each other and to us, ask about their sis sis, and just watching their vocabulary blow up.
What would I change, that feels like a loaded question. I would say what I am working on right now is trying to be consciously present in their lives and not distracted when I am playing with the kids. It is so easy to get distracted and scroll Instagram, read the news, or read a book. But, I’m trying to be more and more present each day while they are awake. I would change the way people look at our family, the way we are considered inspirational, and told by others they could never do this. If you find our story inspirational, then do something. Let this inspire you to look into foster care, to look into being a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or an advocate for foster children and the juvenile justice system, support your local foster families by cooking meals or offering to do errands for them when a new child is welcomed into their home. Don’t tell the next foster or adoptive mama you meet how amazing she is, or how inspirational or what a savior she is, because she is just doing her momming duties.
4. How have you incorporated motherhood into your identity without losing your own individuality?
I have made it a priority to take self-care time. Some weeks I am better at it, and other weeks I get very little self-care time. I also have surrounded myself with an amazing support team made up of moms across the country, ones that understand the walk of foster care and adoption, friends who have biological children, and friends with no children at all. I try to work out for 30 minutes a day in the mornings- honest disclaimer I haven’t worked out in 2 months because we have been moving and have big transitions in our life. I make an extra effort to schedule nights out with my girlfriends so that I can get that adult time alone and feel like myself. As far as with my husband, we make it a priority to have date nights as often as possible to keep the romance alive and to connect without our children present. We love to dive into a tv show at night after the kids are asleep, have a glass of wine or some beer, and a cheese plate and just relax.
5. What advice would you give women who are considering/desiring motherhood?
After being in the foster care and adoption world for two-plus years, I have learned that we are not owed children, we are not entitled to children, and that we do not have a right to children, because children are not commodities.
It is important to remember that all types of motherhood are beautiful and different, but they are all our individual journey. There is no one type of mom that is better than the rest—adoptive, biological, guardian, foster, step—they are all MOM. I would say to remember that adopting and foster care are not second best, the answer to infertility, or plan B. They can be your plan A! The path to motherhood can be long, twisted, and full of hills and valleys, but stay on the path. Ultimately, it is important to discern all types of motherhood, and not just biological motherhood.