Elizabeth Friedland encourages us to jump in and change a child’s life
Less than two years ago, Elizabeth Friedland was a single, childless woman focused on her career. As the senior director of corporate communications for a tech consultancy in Indianapolis (her hometown), the 34-year-old already had a hectic life; and she wasn’t 100% sure she wanted to be a mother. Everything changed one night in 2015 when Friedland decided to become a foster mother to an infant. ESME’s Jaimie Seaton recently caught up with the busy mother and blogger.
Q: Tell me what led to your decision to foster as a single woman.
A: I’ve always loved children, but I wasn’t sure I wanted “forever” children of my own (either through adoption or biologically). The commitment, sacrifice, and responsibility scared me (and, honestly, still does). I resigned myself to not being able to experience motherhood, since I certainly didn’t want to have a child if I wasn’t 100% sure. But one day the idea of fostering popped into my mind. I was familiar with foster-care agencies in town so I knew of the urgent need for great foster parents, but it took a while to convince myself I could do it as a single woman.
I had spent many nights tossing and turning, thinking about whether I should make the choice to foster and how I would make it work. I kept running the logistics over and over again in my mind, everything from the big stuff, such as how I would afford child care and manage my career, to the small stuff, such as how I would get up to my second-floor condo with groceries and a baby and a stroller and a giant purse.
Finally, just before Christmas in 2015, I gained sudden confidence in my decision. I basically said, Screw it. If anyone can make this work, I can. And just like that, I never looked back or had second thoughts. It was a great way to become a mother without having the lifetime commitment, and it was empowering to do this without waiting for a man to come along.
Q: How old are your foster children?
A: My foster son is six months old. I’ve had four other foster children in the past year or so: a newborn, a two-month-old, a four-month-old, and an 18-month-old.
Q: Do you date? What is the reaction to your foster children?
A: I do. When I first decided to foster, I was dating a man somewhat seriously. I broke the news to him over brunch. I said, “James, I’m having a baby. But it’s not yours. And it’s not mine, either.” I think the people at the table next to us were quite confused! He was supportive, but ultimately we broke up for unrelated reasons. Since then, I’ve dated around, and 99% of the men are curious and somewhat amazed. I know not every man would be up for dating a woman with this kind of unusual family life, but I’m OK with my situation weeding out those men. They wouldn’t work for me anyway!
Q: Would you consider adopting any of your foster children?
A: At first I said I wasn’t interested in adopting; I wanted to be the person to give these children a stable, loving home until they were reunited with their biological parents or were moved to a forever family. But now my heart is changing, and I’m open to the idea. Adopting through foster care comes with huge benefits that make it easier: It’s free, unlike private adoptions, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Many states actually give you money (some states up to $10,000) when the adoption is finalized. Adoptive parents also receive a monthly stipend once the child is adopted, which is a huge bonus, and children adopted through foster care receive free medical care until they turn 18.
Q: Can you tell me about your blog, Elizabeth Friedman Writes Stuff*?
A: At first I just wrote it for myself. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. Slowly, I started to hear from others that it was inspiring or motivated them to consider being involved in the foster-care system. Now I try to write with that audience in mind. I do my best to be 100% honest about my experiences as a single foster mom: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Q: Who is your audience?
A: I have all kinds of people who read my blog, from friends and family to people I’ve never met but who, for some reason, feel a connection to what I write.
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten?
A: Surprisingly, 99% of it has been positive! You never know what kind of comments you might receive when you put yourself out there online, but everyone has been supportive or has asked great questions. I also posted about fostering on Pantsuit Nation, and the post went viral and has more than 125,000 views and 9,000 comments. I guess what I had to say resonated. Sometimes on those rough days, even just reading a comment from someone I don’t know can help cheer me up enough to keep pushing through.
Q: Are you still focusing on those extra 20 pounds you wrote about in your blog? What have you learned?
A: (Sigh) Yes. Some days are better than others, but I do think I’d be happier all around if I had my body from my 20s. Still, it’s hard to fit in a workout routine or cook healthy meals regularly when you’re a single woman with an infant and a demanding full-time career. So, for now, I’m doing what I can—moving more, making healthy choices, and trying not to beat myself up about it.
Q: What is your message to other Solo Moms out there?
A: You can do it! Sometimes my life feels like a bad rom-com—the babysitter canceled, I have a big meeting, I wear the baby in a carrier at the office during the meeting and try to pretend like I look put together, even though I haven’t washed my hair for the better part of the week (true story); or I’m trying to get ready for a date when the baby, who is normally a great sleeper, decides to wake up every 30 minutes to ensure I don’t get any alone time with Mr. Maybe Right. It’s a juggling act for sure, and it’s certainly no cakewalk, but it’s totally worth it—and so empowering! Achieve your life goals on your own terms, by your own timeline.
Q: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like our readers to know?
A: I’d urge those who are thinking about starting a family or growing their family to consider foster care and/or adopting through foster care as a first choice. Adoption through foster care is a great way to adopt without blowing your savings, and you’ll be giving a home to an infant or child who desperately needs someone to love him or her.
Jaimie Seaton, ESME’s Pregnancy Resource Guide, has been a freelance journalist for more than 20 years. She is the divorced mother of two awesome teenagers and often writes about parenting, dating, and relationships. Her work has appeared in numerous publications worldwide, including the Guardian, the Establishment, Glamour, and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @JaimieSeaton.
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