He’s Never Called You Mommy, Birth Mother.

This weekend marked the eighth anniversary of the adoption of our oldest son and Mother’s Day.  Despite the joy this weekend had, you (Birth Mother) were on my mind.  He’s getting so big and growing into a young man; still yet, in my heart, and I know in yours, he will always be a blonde curly-haired and brown-eyed little boy.

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The reality is that he has stopped calling me “Mommy”, and I don’t know when this happened.  One day, he was tugging my pants saying, “Hold you, Mommy” and the next, it became just simply, “Mom”.

It grieves me a bit to think about how fast time is flying by, how we are all so far removed in years from when he was little, and how soon…too soon…he will be grown and spreading his wings to fly into the world.  Still yet, through all of the mountains and valleys of raising a boy in this world, you are never far from my thoughts.

The painful truth that hits me square in the heart is that he has never called you “Mommy”.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to write to you every anniversary of our adoption.  I suppose it is the least I could do.  The fact that our adoption occurred right around Mother’s Day is something I rejoice in, but also feel sadness about.  My first official Mother’s Day was just days out from our adoption in 2008.  In many ways, I feel that the timing is God’s wink at me.  In other ways, the timing is so incredibly complex and full of grief.  People may not understand why, or wonder how I could think of you so often, especially on this day, but that is okay.  This is our journey – his, mine, and yours.

Honestly, if I think too much about it all, my emotions get the best of me.  On the one hand, my heart leaps with love at the thought of being his mother.  On the other, it sways in sadness that you are not.  If you did not choose life, if an intervention had not happened, and if difficult decisions were not made, then I would not be here, typing this out, and listening to him laughing at a video in his bedroom.

This, Birth Mother, is the place where sadness and joy sit next to each other; one touching the other, one never too far from the other. 

I want you to know that he is a wonderful little human.  He is kind, athletic, artistic, and enjoys all sorts of people and places.  He does not seem to know a stranger and has no expectations of the types of friends he makes.  I love that about him.  He holds no judgment about other people.  He doesn’t care what skin color a person has, or what interests a person has, he just meets people where they are at.  This is a lesson for us all and makes my heart swell with pride.

He is eager to enjoy time with others, loves to goof off, and is a loyal person.  He is a good big brother, loves animals, and is always thinking of grand ideas that are (sometimes) okay to explore.

Birth Mother, you were so incredibly kind to us even though we had your son.  You could have chosen not to be.  You could have decided that we were your enemy and that I was anything but his Mother.  Instead, you referred to me as his “Mamma”.

Thank you…from the deepest and most vulnerable part of my soul, thank you.

I suppose you will always be in my thoughts, and in my heart on every adoption anniversary and Mother’s Day.  He may not call me “Mommy” anymore, but know that…

In my heart, we are both his “Mommy”.

 

Momma-in-Waiting {Part 5}

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

It is that time of year again, isn’t it?  Images of happy children during the holidays are flooding your social media threads, but you are still waiting, aren’t you?  You are trying, with every ounce of your soul, to make the world seem simple, but you are in the most complicated battle of your life.  Appointments, tests, needles, counseling, hope, disappointment, prayer, tears, anger, confusion, frustration, and countless moments of utter heartbreak all seem to color the path to which you walk.  For some of you, there are no needles, no appointments, no tests, and no tangible sense of hope.  Barrenness has settled in and made you its home.

You are a Momma-in-Waiting, and the world seems to be passing you by.

You hear others speak about their babies.  You view their first pictures with Santa, and watch videos of them singing Christmas songs.  They are all growing, aren’t they?  They are learning new words, discovering the excitement of first steps, and giving their Momma’s an array of challenges on a daily basis.  Yet, there you sit.  Listening, smiling, even laughing at some moments, and looking upon their babies with a longing that is only matched by your own determination to get through this season of your life.

You wonder, “When will it be my turn?  When will I hear first words, see first steps, and be challenged day in and day out?  When will I get to experience a Christmas flooded with the laughter of children?  When will I no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting?

You are dwelling in that seemingly lonely place.  This time of year is especially hard, isn’t it?  The holidays, New Year’s Resolutions, fresh starts, and images of children splattered across almost every single piece of media only seems to remind you of what you long for…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

When your friends are trying to avoid pregnancy, you are screaming for it.  When your friends are complaining about pregnancy, you turn your ears away.  Your heart sinks in a bit, and you just want to silence their words.

It took me many long years to meander my way through the thickness of barrenness.  It seemed an even longer journey to until my number was called and I knew that I would be a mother, forever….when adoption called my name.

It’s not easy.  You know that all too well.  It is not understood.  Nothing seems to be anymore.  Infertility is truly one of the unexplored territories in the human existence.  The ones who travel through it understand, but the ones who do not, really have no clue.

Even after adoption and the gift of three children, I still find myself thinking back to my surgery.  Sometimes, I still wonder what my birth children would have been like, or look like.  I wonder if they would have had resembled my grandmother, or had the dimple of my husband’s chin.

If there are a few words of comfort that I can offer (and I’m a woman of many words, so this will be hard for me) it is, do not stop praying.  Do not stop seeking the ends (whatever they are) to meet your goal.

If, at the end of all the medical trials, you are told your only hope for motherhood is to adopt, it is okay to grieve this.  It is okay to cry fountains of tears over barrenness.  I know I have.

It is okay to get angry, question why you are battling this stupid war taking place in your body, and wonder if the very Lord you have staked your eternity in has forgotten about the life you are living on Earth.

Dear Momma-in-Waiting,

One day when things seem to make more sense, you will look back on this time in your life, look up to the heavens, and say, “I get it now.”  You will be able to share your Christmas pictures, wait until the kiddos are asleep to put out gifts, and plan for months how you are going to surprise them during the holidays.

One day, you will wake up on Christmas morning to the sweet excitement of…

a child…

your child…

your blessed answer to prayer.

 

5 Things I Want You to Know About Adopting After Infertility {Adoption.com article}

I recently wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding five things that are important to know about adoption after the struggle of infertility.  It is valuable to recognize that infertility is truly a life-long process, and there are moments (even after parenthood enters your life) that will catch you off guard.

Adoption of children and the blessing of parenting absolutely fills the void of childlessness, but the impact of infertility on one’s life may never fully go away.  

“Adoption is full of immense joy, but it also has poignant moments when one’s heart is pulled into pieces, and reminders of infertility and barrenness will intertwine with this.”

To read the article, click here:  5 Things I Want You to Know About Adopting After Infertility

Blessings,

Caroline

However Motherhood Comes

Infertility offers nothing, adoption gives everything.

Infertility dispenses despair, adoption dispels it.

Infertility breeds confusion, adoption grows clarity.

Infertility is lifeless, adoption is life-giving.

Infertility seems hopeless, adoption is full of hope.

Infertility gives the impression that one is not deserving of children, but adoption reminds us that we are very-much deserving of parenthood. The two are polar opposites, but when they collide, one’s world opens up to the enriching, beautiful, and life-affirming gift of children.

Friends, if you are meandering your way through the warfare of infertility and barrenness, do not give up. Choosing to pursue adoption is your decision, no one else’s. However, from this barren one’s experience, I encourage you to consider adoption. I’m so thankful that I did, and that the Lord delivered my heart’s fervent wish to experience this gift of parenthood (even on the hard days).

“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” -Valerie Harper

Six Things NOT to Say to Someone Experiencing Infertility

From my life experience, I learned that words (whether meaning to, or not) can definitely impact the way a person feels about his or her own situation.  I think we tend to feel the need to “say something” when faced with the sadness of another one’s life.

From the very moment I had my hysterectomy so young, I caught on quickly that a gentle acknowledgement of the loss was often replaced by words of so-called wisdom from others.  Because of this, I have come up with a list of things NOT to say to someone who is experiencing infertility and barrenness.  Some of these have been spoken to me time and time again, while others are ones that I have heard said to other people.

  1. “You can always adopt.”  Yes, there is an element of truth in this, but please consider the fact that the person is still caught up in the midst of wondering why he or she cannot have biological children.  It is time that we separate infertility from adoption.  They are two completely different experiences.
  2. “If it is God’s will, then it will happen.”  Again, um…yes.  As a Christian, I believe in the will of God, but please don’t say this to people going through infertility.  Some of the most faithful, devout people I have encountered are barren.  Their very essence is screaming out to the Lord for an answer to what is going on, so please refrain from using this blanket statement.  Infertility is more complex than that.  And, for those of us who have adopted, we are fully aware of the incredible, God-driven gift our children are to us.
  3. “At least you don’t have to endure labor.”  Oh, really.  I mean, really?!?!  I would probably trade a leg for being able to birth my children.  Seriously.  I am not joking.  The physical pain experienced pales in comparison to the emotional pain experienced by infertility and barrenness.
  4. “I would love to skip the pregnancy, and just have an instant baby!”  Okay, fine.  I cannot imagine growing another human being in my body, and I am sure that it is really awkward and all, but think about what you are saying.  Those of us who have adopted may be dealing with the choices others made during their pregnancies of our children.  We think about what we would have done during our pregnancies.  We consider what choices might have been made by the birth mothers of our children, and our hearts break because of it.  Also, confession time:  I used to stick a ball under my shirt and look at myself in the mirror.  I hoped to catch a glimpse of what my “pregnant belly” would look like; kinda like when a little girl does this.  However, I was in my upper twenties-early thirties.  And, there is nothing “instant” about adoption.  Plus, see number three.
  5. “There are so many children who need families, and you can be that family.”   As an advocate for adoption, I completely agree with this.  This world has left far too many children without the presence and safety of parents.  However, when one is going through the ups and downs of infertility, they are still seeking answers to their situation.  In many respects, they are not at a place to consider bringing in a child.  An adopted child is NOT a substitute for not being able to have birth children.  The children in need of adoption are unique, precious, and far more deserving of being considered a replacement.
  6. “Just try harder.  Just relax.”  I don’t even know what to say to this, except I can tell you that people who are experiencing infertility and undergoing treatment put their lives on hold in order to have a successful pregnancy.  They put forth a tremendous amount of effort and money for this to happen.  It is not a matter of trying hard enough.  Oh, and in way, it is kinda none of your business about how hard “they are trying,”

While there are other comments I have endured listening to, these tend to pop out in my mind.  I truly hope this list doesn’t offend you.  If you have said this to someone going through infertility, don’t beat yourself up over it.  It seems that most people I know who are going through it have developed a thick shell.

I do ask that instead of saying any of these things, perhaps you would consider saying, “I don’t understand what this is like, but know that I am here for you, I am praying for you, and I will support you.”  These words tend to resonate loudly in the hearts and minds of others.

Words are an interesting thing.  We are taught as children that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I don’t believe that.  I think that words can be very hurtful.  I also believe that words can be empowering, insightful, and comforting.

If you are someone experiencing infertility, let me just say this:  Your journey is your own.  It is not for others to dictate.  Do what you believe is best for your life, and situation.  Know that there are so many others out there in this big world who are sharing in your struggle.  Find them.  Connect with them.  And, don’t give up.

Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.

Adopted for Daily Life: A Devotional for Adopting Moms {Adoption.Com Article)

Several months ago, I was asked to be a contributing writer for a Christian devotional for moms who are in the process of adopting.  The devotional was a collaborative effort straight from the hearts of twenty-five mothers whose lives have been forever changed by the gift, and challenges, of adoption.

This was an incredibly special project for me.  My five-day devotion was on the subject of barrenness.  Obviously, this subject is one that I have lived with, and am passionate about.

Here is a link to an article I wrote for the Adoption.Com website about the devotional:  Adopted For Daily Life:  A Devotional for Adopting Moms

The book is available on Amazon Kindle and paperback.  One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards supporting children in need of permanent families in the country of Nicaragua.

If you are someone, or know someone who is getting ready to adopt, this book would make an excellent gift!

Blessings,

Caroline