I used to hate Mother’s day. Not because I was not grateful for my Mother or for what my Grandmothers did for me. They were and are great women. I hated Mothers day because it was a day to remember and honor mothers. Something I longed so badly to be but was not. On Mother’s Day, I would have to endure people talking about how grateful they were for their children and how God had trusted them with these special spirits. I questioned Heavenly Father. Was Motherhood a matter of trust? Was it based on my being a good person? Was it a matter of faith? I struggled with the endless and sometimes thoughtless questions like, “When are you going to have children?”, “Why are you waiting so long?”, “What is wrong with you or is it Tim?”
Joseph Campbell wrote, “We must me willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” We came to accept that bearing our own children was just not to be for us. It just took us a while to see that. We started the mountain of paper work, the letters sent from friends, family discussing what type of parents they thought we would be, the physicals from our doctors, the home studies, the collage of pictures meant to capture what our family was like, and the letter to perspective birth parents.
When we started the adoption process we again received feedback and questions that were usually well meaning but often hurtful. “Well you had kids the easy way”, “Someday you’ll have real children”, “How could someone give up their child?”, “How much did you pay for them?”, “Aren’t you worried about the genetics of their birthparents?”. I have often wanted to respond by saying, “I see you have had children… where did you conceive?”, “How much were your hospital bills?”, and “Aren’t you afraid that your child will have all your genetic flaws and none of your virtues?”. But my favorite of them all is, “Have you met their real Moms?”… “Yes, I have and it’s me!!!!”
From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” (Or the ability to bear your own children).
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.
“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
I know that you need not bear children to cultivate the qualities of a great mother. Becoming a mother did not happen all at once for me. Just as the process of becoming “real”, it began long before I had children in my home. I would dare say it started as a child as I watched my mother care for my siblings and I began to mimic those things with my dolls. It continued as I grew. It still continues to be something I strive towards cultivating.
In May of 2004 I had finally come to my breaking point with the whole adoption process. I was so frustrated and overwhelmed. It was then that I had a personal experience which told me that children were on their way to me now. Hope entered our home and then a few weeks later we received an email from a young woman stating she was pregnant and that she knew we were to be the parents of the child she was carrying. Taylor was on his way to us! He was born in November of 2004. We continued to pursue adoption options through a private agency.
Fast forward to Dec. 2006 a little boy had been left at a Church with a note attached explaining the Mom was too young and that she wanted this baby placed for adoption. He was in the care of DCFS. I was very familiar with the process because of my work as a Substance Abuse Counselor. I called DCFS that night inquiring about that child. We felt driven to pursue this child. After having our home study sent to DCFS we received an e-mail from a woman stating we were not Foster Parents and it would be not fair to even consider us when there were so many other people licensed through the state. We started to ponder what we were to learn through this experience. We concluded that maybe we should consider being foster parents.
We had, had a friend pass away we spent all day making arrangements to go to the viewing. Then we got a call from our Case Worker at the private agency we were working with. She explained she felt very strongly that she needed to call us and tell us about a special training they had arranged for couples waiting to adopt through them to become trained as Foster Parents through the state. She explained that it started in 45 minutes at a local college and they would lock the doors at 6:15p.m. I called my husband at work and explained what our case worker had said. We laughed at how obvious it was that we continue to follow our prompting to become foster parents.
We became licensed and fostered 3 children in our home. They eventually went to live with family and then the call came. A woman named Trish from DCFS called and stated that we were not even a family they were considering but asked if I would please hear her out. She stated that there was a 3 yr old little boy legally free for adoption. She explained some of his background and then stated he was small for his age, speech delayed, used sign language to communicate, and that he bit when he was frustrated. I laughed at her thinking I had just buckled Taylor in his car seat and knew he was not in DCFS custody. If you had asked me to describe Taylor that is exactly what I would have said. She said I know this sounds weird but I really feel strongly that this child belongs in your home. I called my husband who was in California for work. I then called his foster mom and talked about him and where he was at. We agreed to meet him the day after Thanksgiving. When we walked in the door it was as though Taylor and Brayden had finally found what was missing for them. They took each others hands and ran up stairs to play. We knew in the first 2 minutes that Brayden was meant to be ours. We called Trish after the visit and told her we wanted Brayden in our home. On Tuesday we were approved to adopt Brayden and he was home the next day, Nov 27th, 2007.
This all happened within a week. In May 2008 we were able to finalize his adoption. Just 3 weeks later we received another call from Trish (DCFS). She had just walked into a meeting where they were discussing placements for children that had just come into care. Taylor’s biological sister was in foster care and they were struggling to find a placement for her. Within hours of the phone call, Annabella was in our home. Almost a year to the day that we found out about Brayden. Annabella’s birthparents chose to terminate their parental rights. In December 2008 we were able to finalize our adoption with Annabella. All that waiting and we added 2 children within six months of each other. Our children are so close to each other that we joke that we don’t know how they ever survived without each other.
Mothers Day is still a bittersweet day for me. I am so grateful for the women that helped shape me. I relish my role as a Mother. But on this day I think of the women who made me a Mother. I think of the women who where my children’s first mothers as well. The women whose selfless sacrifices allowed us to have our sweet children.
He Is Mine by Valerie Kay Gwin
I tiptoed into your room one night.
I watched you sleeping there,
Your tiny body looked so snug
Wrapped in peaceful slumber’s care.
I thought of how you came to be
The child we’d longed to know.
I wondered at the sight of you:
“How could she let you go?”
Tears streamed down my cheeks as I
Felt the pain she must have known.
For I will have to let you go
Some day when you are grown.
A mother I might never meet
Had given me her son.
Yet, surely as you’ve filled my heart,
A piece of her’s you’d won.
“How could she let you go?”
The question kept returning.
And in the depths of my own heart
A question kept on burning.
“How can I ever let you go
When the years have come and gone?”
I stood there by your crib until
The nighttime turned to dawn.
And as the sun peeked through the shades,
The voice of God broke through.
“I trusted her to give him life
And now I’m trusting you.”
“To show him what is right and wrong,
To love him and to be
The one who teaches him the way
To come back home to me.”
“He wasn’t hers to give, you know,
And he’s not yours to own.
I’ve placed him in your life to love
But he is mine…on loan.”
May we be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so we can have the life that is waiting for us. May we have gratitude for those great women we have had in our lives; for all the many women who have helped shape our lives. And may we live our lives like Helen Keller explained, “So much has been given I have no time to ponder ever that which has been denied.”
To learn more about Heidi and her family, visit her blog at http://www.poohterbug.wordpress.com.