Three years ago, Heights resident Heather Potts met her son, Trésor. He was not an infant but nearly 7 years old, and the meeting did not take place in a hospital room but in the East African country of Burundi.
Her overwhelming feeling of love, though, was the same as it would have been had she given birth to him.
“Trésor is my favorite person ever and I’m the luckiest mama ever,” Potts said.
As right as the role seems now, Potts remembers a time when she didn’t think children would be a part of the picture. She worked long hours as a lawyer and was single.
“My house had white furniture and pale gray walls,” she said. “I thought I might get married but not have kids.”
A pivotal conversation with a fellow lawyer in June 2014 made Potts realize she could balance her career and motherhood. She remembers sitting at a stoplight thinking, “This could happen.”
Her sister had adopted three children domestically through the foster care system, so Potts was familiar with that process. Because she was single, a Texas agency turned down Potts. But a talk with an agency employee encouraged Potts to explore other agencies and options.
Potts directed her attention to the U.S. Department of State website, which details countries where American citizens can pursue international adoption and lists each country’s requirements and regulations. Burundi would adopt to a single parent and did not require a long stay in the country as a prerequisite for doing so.
In March 2016, Potts legally became Trésor’s mother before she traveled to Africa to bring him to his new home.
She had seen pictures of him and knew from adoption paperwork that he liked soccer and did not like to be in conflict with his friends.
With encouragement from her sister, Potts allowed herself to be open to adopting an older child.
“It makes me cry when I think of what I would have missed if I hadn’t,” Potts said.
While Trésor became an American citizen knowing only a few English words, Potts said he has blossomed.
“It’s very natural to love your kids, but I like him so much, too,” Potts said. “He’s the coolest person I’ve ever met.”
Being mom to a boy means spending a lot of time at the soccer and baseball fields, and Potts enjoys rooting him on from the sidelines. Her son is also an extrovert, which Potts is still trying to accommodate.
“It’s hard to get his social needs met when I’m an introvert,” Potts said. “But I’m learning. It’s very easy to be his mother.”
When a classmate teased Trésor for not having a dad, Potts said she stewed about it for months until her son gifted her with some wise words: “Mama, I have moved past that. Don’t you think it’s time to do the same?”
“He’s an old soul,” Potts said. “He’s taught me much more than I’ve ever taught him.”
Something she is still learning is what it’s like to be a white parent to a black son. Potts said she knows she needs help if Trésor is to grow up with a strong and healthy sense of self.
“It’s constantly on my mind and is my biggest knowledge deficiency,” she said. “I put myself under the leadership of black men and women to learn.”
This Mother’s Day marks the fourth for mother and son. The next day, May 13, is the third anniversary of Trésor stepping off the plane into his new life.
Both will be marked with blissful normality.
“He might take me to Subway,” Potts said. “I really just want him to hang up his own clothes.”