Adoption’s Shared Grief and Love

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There was a time for many years when I ques­tioned if I would ever hear a child call me mom. I now won­der, how is it that some­how through all of life’s twists and turns for all involved, I became the moth­er of two beau­ti­ful human beings born to oth­er women? The priv­i­lege of being an adop­tive par­ent is immea­sur­able. The priv­i­lege of being the mom of my two now young adult chil­dren can’t be overstated.

Rais­ing my chil­dren was like play­ing darts blind­fold­ed with the self-imposed expec­ta­tion of need­ing to hit the bulls eye with each and every throw. In adop­tion and fos­ter care, there’s no genet­ic blue­print to fol­low or rec­og­nize. Many times, there’s lit­tle to no known fam­i­ly his­to­ry to hang onto. And there are no fam­i­ly elders to con­sult with who know about rais­ing adopted/foster chil­dren. It’s very com­mon for there to be a mis­match in per­son­al­i­ties, activ­i­ty lev­els, inter­ests, strengths, and needs between adoptive/foster par­ents and their adopted/foster children.

“A child born to anoth­er woman calls me mom.
The depth of the tragedy and the mag­ni­tude of the priv­i­lege are not lost on me.”
–Jody Lan­ders, Blog­ger: Love What Matters

With that said, every day can be seen as a new adven­ture of embrac­ing our child’s per­son­al­i­ty, strengths, and needs giv­en what they show us, while we fall more in love with them day in and day out for being their unique beau­ti­ful selves.

My son, as a lit­tle boy, was the loud­est, most talk­a­tive, enthu­si­as­tic, and active child in his ele­men­tary school class­es. As he would leave home to run to catch the bus every morn­ing, I would yell after him, “Remem­ber, hon­ey, to use your super­pow­ers for good, not evil!” He would turn around, laugh, and shine his big con­ta­gious smile in my direc­tion and say, “No way, Mom, Nev­er!!!” I remem­ber these every day moments as the ones that would take my breath away. I would be filled with grat­i­tude and love as I watched him con­fi­dent­ly board the bus to start yet anoth­er school day of light­ing up his class­room with his mag­net­ic and charm­ing per­son­al­i­ty while chal­leng­ing his teach­ers. And I would won­der, How is it that I was giv­en this priv­i­lege, this gift like no oth­er, to be his mother?

The fact is, my son did not get his charis­ma from me or his father. He didn’t get his mis­chie­vous, active, fun-lov­ing, and zeal­ous per­son­al­i­ty from us, nor his dash­ing good looks. I would tuck him into bed each night and look into his big brown eyes, and I would see his first moth­er there in his soul, in his adorable lit­tle face, in his per­son­al­i­ty, and in his zeal­ous spir­it. How could I not see her? She was and con­tin­ues to be there in his genet­ic make-up, his­to­ry, and ances­try, and in her self­less act of his place­ment. No lack of resources or any dif­fi­cul­ties she faced before, dur­ing, or after mak­ing his adop­tion plan could ever take away from what she has giv­en my son.

I know deeply that it was only as a result of my children’s first moth­ers’ mis­for­tune, their heartache, and their sac­ri­fice that I received the great­est gift of all. I also know deeply that my chil­dren suf­fered a tremen­dous loss and trau­ma as a result of being sep­a­rat­ed from their first moth­ers at birth. And I rec­og­nize from per­son­al expe­ri­ence what loss feels like, as a result of the many and repeat­ed years of failed infer­til­i­ty treat­ments, before mak­ing the life alter­ing deci­sion to adopt.

With the loss and tragedy suf­fered by all of us involved came the trea­sure of being my children’s mom, a priv­i­lege that will nev­er be lost on me.

With the loss and tragedy suf­fered by all of us involved came the trea­sure of being my children’s mom, a priv­i­lege that will nev­er be lost on me.

There is no won­der that I will for­ev­er think about my children’s first moth­ers with a heart filled with love and grat­i­tude, and with the knowl­edge and under­stand­ing that they are every bit my children’s moth­ers too.

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