The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight.
First, a quick note: I wrote this piece after reading an essaywritten by Lea Groverin the Huffiington Post , titled Dear Less-Than-Perfect Mom. The post by Lea was wonderful, and it stimulated me think about us moms who foundour sweetbabies through adoption, and how we face unique challenges. I hope you enjoy it, whether you arethe mother of an adopted child or not.
Dear Mom of an Adopted Child ,
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at relevant agencies. I met you at my sons school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesnt matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fighting. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you stimulated this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasnt in Gods plans for you to have a child, this infant whose hair you now brush softly from his face. Maybe someone alerted you about what happened to their cousins neighbours friend. Maybe you dismissed them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because thats what we do, isnt it?
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment ailments, breast milk banks, newborns born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, speech inadequacies. About counseling support services, taxation and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the class, so many class. I know the annoyance of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sale and cook sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match bellow, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.
Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you wailed it to the world. Maybe you let yourself to decorate a babys room, buy a vehicle seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and hemorrhaging, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying tofix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadnt sleep in three weeks because the newborn had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to running more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
And Ive assured you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from run, struggling to understand whats being promised and whats not. Fighting to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
Ive assured you down the street at the hospital when a newborn was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene thats emerging. Ive assured your face as you hear a nurse whispering to the birthmother that she doesnt have to go through with this. Ive assured you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those momentswhile you bite your lip and close your eyes , not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt objective in a sterile surrounding. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.
Ive assured you look down into a newborn infants eyes, wondering if hes truly yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.
And then, to have the child in your limbs, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.
I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.
I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the magistrate, the formality, the relief, the pleasure. The letting out of a breath maybe you didnt even know you were holding for months. Months.
Ive assured you meet your childs birthparents and grandparentsweeksoryears down the road. Ive assured you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile people who love him because hes one of them. Ive assured you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when hes shaken and confused and truly just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.
Ive assured you fret when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his daddy, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you fret, because you can protect your child from a lot of things but you cant protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.
Ive assured you at the doctors office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks dont turn into big problems later on.
Ive assured you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?
Ive assured you wonder how youll react the first time you hear the dreaded, Youre not my real mama. And Ive assured you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining soothe and caring, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft calls with the voice of the shower.
Ive assured you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.
But most of all, I want you to know that Ive assured you look into your childs eyes. And while you are able to never consider a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something thats just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laugh, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.
Kathy Lynn Harris is a transparent writer whose greatest accomplishments to date include raising the worlds smartest and most beautiful little son, wedding a handsome and funny spouse who cooks up a mean taco, and adopting two untrainable golden retriever mixes who rack up so many food and vet bills she has to crowdfund them. Read more at her blog .