Over the past year or so, we have played the “I’m sorry” and “I’m thankful” game around the dinner table at meal times. We take turns telling what we are thankful for, and apologizing for the things we have done during the week that might have hurt someone’s feelings, or broken a rule.
The great thing about this game is that we get to hear our children admit wrongdoings, even when we were not fully aware of them. It is also nice to hear them say they are sorry. Perhaps, though, the best lesson of all is that we can fully admit when we have done something wrong, made a bad choice, or have not been as patient as we should have been with our children, and each other. This lesson is valuable for our children, and more importantly, it is humbling for us.
Recently during dinner, my daughter started the game, and we all went around and said sorry for the little things we did during the week that may have hurt each other’s feelings, or perhaps, caused more stress on our family unit. After this, we went around and spoke about the things we were thankful for.
My son: “I’m thankful for my family and the food we have.”
The baby: “…..some nodding of his head….”
My husband: “I’m thankful that we have each other.”
Myself: “I’m thankful that in this cold weather, we have a warm home to live in.”
My daughter: “I’m thankful….(starts to tear up)….I’m thankful for mommy and daddy.”
I took another turn and said, “I’m thankful for having a daughter, and for this moment right now.”
After I said this, my daughter took off running to her bedroom. I left her alone in her room for a minute, and then decided to check on her. I found her lying in her bed with tears rolling down her cheeks.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked.
“A long, long time ago when I was in my birth mom’s belly, I heard (our son) tell you that he will miss you if you die.”
As the tears came barreling down her cheeks, she said, “I will miss you if you die, and you are the best parents ever.”
My daughter has talked often about knowing us while in her birth mother’s belly. I cannot even begin to comprehend what runs through an adopted child’s mind, or heart.
On the one side, it gives me great joy to think about the opportunities in life that are present and available when children are placed into families whose deepest desires are to bring in a child to love wholly, celebrate, and give life-changing open doors to. On the other, and with a twinge of protective sadness, I think about just how much an adopted child wonders about their birth families, what life would have been like in their families of origin, and if they were loved by birth parents.
I do not have all of the answers, and will never have them. Like most parents, I want the best for my children. I want my children to be understood, nurtured by those around them, to passionately seek out the things in life that give laughter to their souls, and to be able to look back on life with a full measure of contentment.
As an adoptive parent, though, I recognize that there might always be an unfulfilled space where questions linger and thoughts go unrecognized. In other words, I know that there could be an empty place in my children’s lives that can only be filled with answers to which I may never be able to give them.
Adoptive parenting is both joy and loss, and sweetness and sorrow at the same time.
I have seen that some people who are parents through adoption have revolted (if you want to call it that) against the word adoptive being in front of the word parent. I get it. To my children, I am not “Adoptive Mommy”, I’m “Mommy”. I am not “Adoptive Tear-Drier, Adoptive Cheerleader, and Adoptive Caretaker.” I am tear-drier, cheerleader, and caretaker.
But, the truth is, my babies grew in another’s body. The fact that they grew in another mother’s womb, and are being cared for by me as their mother, does not fall lightly in my thoughts.
I think it is a privilege and incredible honor to call myself an adoptive mother.
It is not a subtitle, or secondary description.
Being an adoptive mother is profound.
It is the unique experience that lends one’s heart to the belief that our children were chosen for us, and we were chosen for them.
Today, while thinking about my children, I whispered this to the Lord,
“Thank you for these moments right now of being a parent.”
Motherhood is a gift.
Adoptive motherhood is even more of a gift, and for that, I am thankful.