After my son’s adoption in 2008, a neighbor asked me, “Are you concerned that you didn’t connect with him since you did not carry him?” I was only briefly stunned by her question. I knew that I needed to think quick and give her an answer. After all, she asked me in front of a group of neighbors during our block party and I did not want to be standing in the middle of an awkward moment of silence. I replied, “No, not at all. Loving him is very natural…as if I gave birth to him.” All she responded with was “Oh”.
When I told my husband about the conversation, he said, “She didn’t carry or birth her husband. Does that mean she is not bonded or connected to him?” (Good point honey, good point) He has always had a great way of simplifying things.
Her question has stuck in my mind through the years. I really cannot blame her for her lack of knowledge about adoption. After all, she had only given birth to children. She had never experienced the incredible richness of becoming a mom through adoption. I am still not sure what she meant by the word connect. Perhaps she meant to say “Are you worried that you have not bonded with him because you did not give birth to him?”.
Looking back on our short conversation, I wished I would have said to her the things that have been revealed since becoming a mother through adoption. I have realized that my expecting was not in months, but years. My labor was not in hours, but years as well. I did not carry my children in my body. I carried them in my imagination, my prayers, my hopes, and my dreams.
I carried them in that quiet space where it is just myself and the Lord.
Foster and adoptive families usually get asked all kinds of random and often insensitive questions. When we were going through the licensing process to become foster parents, someone said to me, “You are not going to take one of those meth babies, are you?” Was that a question or a directive? I was not quite sure. The truth is that many newborns who come into protective services in the state I live in have been exposed to prenatal drug and/or alcohol usage. To call them “meth babies” though felt very cold and calloused to me.
Here are some more questions that I have been asked:
Are your kids “real” siblings?
Are you scared that their “real” parents are going to take them back?
Are you sure it is okay to tell them that they are adopted?
Do you plan on having your “own” child in the future?
Do you know their “real” parents?
I answered the first two questions with a “no” and a “yes”. No, I am not scared their “real” parents are going to take them back….that would be considered kidnapping. Taking them back is not an option. Adoption is legally binding and permanent.
Yes, I am absolutely sure it is okay to tell them they are adopted. It is a travesty for children to not know their history and to be lied to. It damages every ounce of trust and relationship built through the years. It also gives glimpses of the thought that adoption is something that should be kept secret, as if it is shameful.
As far as the kids are concerned, they are real siblings. Trust me, if you spend any amount of time in our home, you will notice that they fight like cats and dogs, yet are inseparable. There is nothing fake about their relationship as a brother and a sister.
The last two questions can be answered by this fabulous quote I found.
“Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial. Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary. Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else’s child. Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all your own.” -Rita Laws, PhD
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Happy Birthday Bubby. I love you so much more than I will ever find the words to express. I am incredibly grateful to the Lord for choosing us as your parents. I know I have said that over and over, but I suspect I will not stop saying it until my life on Earth has ended. Just thinking about the person you are growing into, all of your strengths and sweet quirks, makes my heart leap with joy.
The night before you came to us, I prayed that the Lord would provide us with the opportunity to parent a baby. We woke up that morning not knowing that by the end of the day, our lives would be forever changed. He answered my prayer immediately. We quickly rushed out the door to head to the hospital after getting a call from the local child protective services saying “can you be there in 30 minutes?” Your first year was full of hope, tears, joy, fears, and the overall feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We were caught between loving you desperately and the commitment we made to help your birth mother get you back. We were sworn to protecting you; yet, we had to rely on others in your life to make the decisions on what was best. We were broken down and humbled by the plight of your birth mother while glowing in the enchantment of who you were and by the Lord’s gifting of you.
Your second year held the mixed up feelings of grieving for your birth mother and her loss of you while experiencing pure joy at your adoption. Before your adoption, we did not know how long we would hold you. We said “love you forever” as often as we could. On that fateful day in May, we were given the blessing of you being ours forever. So much was revealed to us during this time of life. Your curly hair, sweet smile, and boundless energy kept us amused. People were drawn to you. Your charm and talkative nature took flight.
Year three…well…let’s just say that year three was a wee bit challenging. Your God-given strong-willed determination was your shining accomplishment! You started to see more of the world with curiosity and fierce independence. Music also became something you were quite fond of. You welcomed a baby sister! You announced it. You told us that you would be getting a baby sister before we even knew. I can only imagine how your little mind must have been spinning when your baby sister arrived on our doorstep. You took it in stride. You noticed your friends’ mommies had babies in their bellies; and yet, you never questioned why your sister was delivered to our door by a nice lady with brown hair. You just seemed to understand that your mommy does not grow babies in her belly.
Year four was the year of music, Legos, and all things super-hero. You often dressed up, grabbed whatever sword you could find, hop on your big wheel, and ride through the house in an attempt to beat the bad guys. Sometimes you even sang songs about being a super-hero. One of the sweetest things you said to me was “Mommy, you are my super-hero.” When at home, you seemed to always have a drum stick and your dulcimer in hand. Your songs were also about rock stars, Jesus, Christmas, God, and of course, mommy. You performed just about every night for us. You would jump out of the closet, proclaim yourself as a rock star, spin around, then sing and strum away. My favorite song went like this:
I’m a little rock star…for Jesus…for Christmas…for God…and my family.
Year five seemed to slip away so fast. You took your first airplane ride, went to a strange new place called Disney World, rode rides that overwhelmed your senses, and shook with excitement when meeting Buzz Light Year! Painting became a hobby for you and we discovered your natural ability as a gymnast. You graduated from preschool, got glasses, spent extra time with your Papa fishing on the lake, and started Kindergarten. You started referring to yourself as a “school-ager”.
Sometimes, I just sit back and watch the videos of you throughout the years. My eyes well up with tears at just how special you are and also at how swiftly time has gone by. I wish I could back and push a button to slow down time. I wish I would have kissed you just a bit more before night-night, or let you sing me one more silly song, or picked you up one more time when you said “holdu holdu“. You are starting to show your growth in the way you get just ever-so-slightly embarrassed if I try to kiss you around other kids. But, at the same time, you still reach for my hand and put your head on my lap when it is just the two of us.
God has blessed us so much by choosing us as your parents. You continue to amaze us, challenge us, stretch us, refine us, and love on us daily. You, my son, are a precious wonder. Happy, happy, happy birthday my sweet one…love you forever…
Thank You, Lord, For Giving Us Six Years of Happy
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