Mary Beth LaRue
Foster Care, Adoption & The Road to Motherhood
EPISODE: 28 | DATE: February 4, 2021
“I think 2020 has shown us that we’re all loving and living in impermanence and uncertainty as much as we want to tell ourselves otherwise. Foster care really put me in direct relationship with those truths.”
- Mary Beth LaRue and her husband, Matt Aporta, had been trying to get pregnant for a few years. When it wasn’t happening, they went to seek help. They were told to begin IVF.
- IVF didn’t feel like the right path for Mary Beth’s own unique path, and after some thought, she and her husband decided to explore adoption.
- They got in touch with one of Mary Beth’s students who was a foster adoption lawyer and began the process of becoming foster parents with the intention to adopt.
- Mary Beth and Matt learn a lot through the process, including some of the terminology. Just because you want to foster to adopt, foster care itself is meant for reunification with the biological family. The goal of foster parents is to provide a safe home for a child to grow and thrive. It exists to help children who are displaced.
- There are about 400,000 kids in foster care in the US right now, and some sources even quote as much as 424,000.
- LA county alone has 36,000 kids in foster care, making it the largest child welfare system in the USA. Many kids are in 10-12 homes and many kids are never adopted and age out of the system. For more statistics around this, visit https://finallyfamilyhomes.org/the-problem/ – “20% of foster care kids who age out of the system will become homeless the day they age out. Every year about 4,000 youth age out of care in California. According to Walden Family Services, 65% leave foster care at age 18 with no place to call home.”
- Once Matt and Mary Beth learned about those numbers, they knew this was what they wanted to do.
- Resource parents are parents who are both foster parents and would like to adopt if that is an option. But adoption is never guaranteed with being a resource parent. And it shouldn’t be. It’s more important for a loss to fall on an adult rather than a child.
- Foster parents’ only intention is to foster, not to adopt.
- The reason to make that distinction is so that a child isn’t bounced around from home to home unnecessarily.
- Mary Beth and Matt became certified as foster parents within 6 months of their initial meeting with their foster adoption lawyer friend.
- On December 13th, 2017, a little boy named Angel was born. On December 19th, Angel went home with Matt and Mary Beth (see the photo below for the moment when Mary Beth met Angel for the first time).
- As Mary Beth recounts it, she felt pretty number before Angel arrived. But she says that foster care really cut through all the bullshit, causing her to ask: What do I have time for? And what is even worth paying attention to? It’s the little moments.
- Mary Beth recalls that they had to go to court every two weeks for a long time to see if Angel was going to be reunified with his family. And every time they’d go, they’d have to pack up his bag as if he weren’t going back home with them.
- She recalls making those court days extra special, doing all Angel’s favorite things and paying so much more attention to his every move, feature and habit, drinking it in as if she’d never see him again.
- Mary Beth feels like 2020 has shown us that we’re all loving and living in impermanence and uncertainty as much as we want to tell ourselves otherwise. Foster care really put her in direct relationship with those truths. There is nothing that will ever give me complete certainty of what’s going to happen next.
- And so Mary Beth realized that those days when she would take Angel to court and study his ever move as if it would be the last time she’d see him – that needed to be the way she lived every day. Not just when the stakes felt higher.
- In order to get through her experience, Mary Beth leaned heavily on the work of Byron Katie and Pema Chodron.She also worked and continues to work with a coach named Shelly Lawrence who is trained in Byron Katie. Shelly helped Mary Beth see that she was going to be ok no matter what happened.
- One of the things Shelly taught Mary Beth was to seek peace with a sense of urgency.
- Shelly helped Mary Beth to see that her thoughts were causing her pain. Mary Beth kept replaying a thought in her head of Angel being in his crib after being put back with his biological family and thinking that Mary Beth and Matt had left him. She would see him not knowing where they were and thinking that they had abandoned him.
- Mary Beth realized that she caused herself so much pain from playing this over and over again in her head. And it never happened. But she grieved that moment so many times. Shelly helped her see that Mary Beth’s pain was coming from her thoughts. And that was it. Because Angel actually never left.
- Overthinking can become an addition. In this way, it’s important to choose what stories you bring into your head. Don’t watch the news or anything that could destroy your peace. It doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to what’s happening in the world. It just means to protect your inner peace.
- If you’re feeling the call to foster or adopt or become a resource parent, listen to that. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get beat up. This process will beat you up. But you’ll be better on the other side and your heart will be bigger.
- Mary Beth’s advice is to really trust yourself and also know that you’re not going to fully know. She kind of knew but she was also “scared shitless!” And that’s ok! Moving toward what you fear is not the worst thing. It’s going to bring you alive.
- One thing that is really unhelpful is when people talk about how they’ve thought about fostering or adopting but that they really want their “own” first. Own or ownership around children or “mine” creates this idea that an adopted child is lesser than or that you as a parent are so different. So it’s important to be really aware of language like that. A child is a child.
About Mary Beth
Mary Beth LaRue is a yoga and meditation teacher, writer and the creator of Embodied by MB. During her journey of teaching yoga for over twelve years, she’s traveled the world teaching yoga with Wanderlust Festivals, designed custom yoga programs for rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters and the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles and written about her journey to motherhood through foster adoption for HBO, Yoga Journal and Good Morning America. She lives in Evergreen, Colorado with her husband, their son Angel, English bulldog Rosy and six crazy chickens. She loves road trips, library books, writing, a strong cup of coffee, being in nature and all things and humans with soul.
Resources in this episode
Foster Care Agency: Extraordinary Families
Mary Beth & Matt share their story of foster adoption on HBO
Mary Beth shares her story in Yoga Journal
Song: Coming Home by Marti Nikko and DJ Drez
Podcast episode about Uncertainty with Simon Sinek and Dave Asprey
Mary Beth’s Coach, Shelli Janine
Meet Our Son – Mary Beth’s and Matt’s video of adopting Angel
Our Journey to Our Son – Mary Beth’s blog post about her path to motherhood
Some important statistics about the Foster Care system and kids who age out of the system from Finally Family Homes