Before adopting my children, I had never heard of this celebrated day. I didn’t realize the Saturday before Mother’s Day was designated as Birth Mother’s Day. Now that I know, if I am honest, I must admit I have mixed feelings. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard to always want to see all sides of an issue and help others move towards the middle. I find it ironic that I am in the same spot I have helped many employees work through.
Often times, the story of adoption is told from my perspective, the adoptive parent. Although my personal story is not all rainbows and sunshine, when it comes to my children the story is very similar for many adoptive parents. We prayed for our children to bless our homes, we searched to find them, we loved them even before they came to us, and we are forever grateful that we have them. Many fine organizations have worked hard to ensure this image is shared hoping to inspire more families to adopt. There is such a need for adoptive parents.
This brings me to the children. More and more, we are beginning to hear their voice. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption does an excellent job of producing PSAs that give voice to the many children waiting to be adopted from foster care. Other organizations are doing a great job of bringing forward stories of adoption through the voice of those who have been adopted. Not all adoption stories are created equal when looked through this filter. There are children who were adopted from birth, children who were adopted by family members, children who were taken away from birth parents and placed with people they didn’t know that they now call family; and this is just a small list.
It took me a while to get this when my girls first came home to us. They were 3 & 5 and we were their fourth home. Prior to us, they had been placed with various family members. We became an option because we were about to adopt their baby brother who had been placed with us a year earlier. Since they were part of a sibling group in foster care, we were required to get the children together on a regular basis to help them maintain strong relationships with each other. When they were placed with us, we had already known the girls for a year.
In retrospect, knowing them through sibling visits and the fact that they had transitioned a few times I think made moving to our home easier. I remember their first sleep-over with us. We were going to try one weekend to see how they liked our home and being with us full-time. At some point on Saturday, my big girl announces she has a great idea (she has these “great ideas” with frequency). She said, “Why don’t we just live with you? That way we can be with little guy all the time!” What I heard was, “You’re such the perfect parents and we love you so much and know that you love us so much and we should really just be a family like immediately.” I apparently did not posses the kid decoder….more importantly, the kid who has been taken from their parents and moved to several homes and finally has found something to hold on to – a little brother – decoder. No, I had my rose-colored, finally have my children with me, even though every OB and fertility specialist kept telling me I would not have children (sticking my tongue out at them), phooey what do they know, glasses on.
The sleep-over became forever. My husband and I were thrilled to be able to adopt little guy’s sisters. We already loved the girls, they were an answer to prayers for children of our own, and we were so grateful to have our family blessed by them. They on the other hand, saw things a little differently. While they were happy to be with little guy and excited for all the attention and love showered upon them, they didn’t understand why they were taken from their birth parents in the first place. Here we were, “I love you so much. We are so happy to be your family.” Here they were, “You’re nice, we love you, but is my other mom ever going to come get us?” Looking back now, I see how naive I was to think that they fully transitioned just because my big girl “decided” they should live with us. They were just moving to another home. They weren’t thinking about moving into a new family…yet. Fast forward three years and we are a family just like any other. We have our unique history, our ups and downs, and lots of love. Our story has taken time. It has taken work. There have been tears, laughter, long talks, moments of silence, moments of doubt, moments of sheer frustration. But most of all, there have been moments of love beyond belief. If you ask her though, my big girl will tell you that she chose us to be her parents. I think she just might have.
This is supposed to be a post about birth mothers though. I cannot possibly represent all their voices as I have not met them all or walked in their shoes. Additionally, this is where those mixed feelings come in. Why separate from all other mothers? Are they less than, more than? Should we separate out adoptive mothers too? Would they be more than, less than? I don’t have any answers, only questions. And there it is, my big revelation about Birth Mother’s Day. Every birth mother came to that point through a path very much their own. Whether by choice made by them or for them, they brought a miracle into the world and now someone else is caring for that miracle. How do I do justice to that voice. The answer is, I cannot. What I can do is write a letter to my children’s birth mother. Our history may not be the same for everyone, it may strike a chord with some, or it might be too familiar for others. Post-adoption relationships with biological families are as different as the circumstances and people who are touched by adoption.
I want to wish you a happy Mother’s Day. Our relationship has been difficult perhaps because we are two very different people; I know. On this day though, I am reminded that I am bonded to you by the three precious children I call my own. I can’t imagine how hard this has been so I won’t pretend I do. I want you to know that we still talk about you. My big girl still remembers you fondly and my little princess wonders if she looks like you.
I want to tell you how happy we are and what great little people they are becoming. I want to tell you that big girl looks just like you and is as stubborn and opinionated as you have ever been. I want to tell you that little guy knows all his letters, shapes, and colors and is the funniest little guy in the whole world. I want to tell you that little baby girl is still as cute as cute can be and I can see right now how the boys are going to be lined up to take her to her first dance. I want to tell you all of this but I don’t know if that would make you happy or if it would make you sad.
So what I will tell you is, thank you. Although we have our differences, the three beautiful and perfect children we share make you an important person to our family. Despite any differences, you gave me the opportunity to be a mom and for us to be a family. I cannot put into words what that has meant to us. I want you to know that we love them very much and they are very happy. So like we do every year, the children and I will have a special prayer for you this Mother’s Day. We will pray that God protect and guide you in life. We will pray that you are doing well. We will thank God and you for giving us the opportunity to find each other and be a family.
Happy Mother’s Day,
B, L, A, C, D
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