BraveLove is excited to share a series of four narratives during the months of October and November! Taken from an article written by adoptive mom, Helen Harris, these four heartfelt narratives will captivate and challenge your perspective as they clarify how individual experience and relationships change over time. The authors include one adoptee, her birth mom and adoptive mom, and her sister. The relationships challenge the adoption stereotypes of good and bad, address the myths that surround reunion, and propose possibilities for children through adoption that values birth families. Join us as we share these narratives in celebration of National Adoption month, and unfold the story of adoption through the lens of first the birth mother, the daughter she raised, the daughter she placed, and finally, the woman she chose to raise her daughter! Missed the first few stories in this series? Read them here.
It never occurred to me that I would not have a choice about parenting. I was healthy, strong, and invested in the lives of children. In fact, I was a social worker whose life work was with children and their parents, including those placing for adoption. When treatment for an illness resulted in infertility, I experienced an incredible sense of being damaged and “less than.” I remember the day I went to a high school basketball game in our small town and heard someone in the stands whisper to her friend: “there comes old empty arms.” I grieved that I would never be able to give my husband children. Damaged goods. Barren. Useless. It was my fault that we were childless.
caption: Helen, Beth and Jennifer
When we discussed adoption, I wondered about how to parent a child that did not get to grow up in his/her own home. I ached for the mother who would be relinquishing the right to raise her child. I worried about the child who would grow in another’s womb for nine months and hear her voice and the patterns of her life and then, as a vulnerable infant, lose that voice, those rhythms.
I prayed for her mother, for peace, strength, courage, and grace to put the pieces of her broken experiences together.
Our first adoption experience was the incredible gift of a newborn son. Five years later, our prayers were answered again when we learned Jennifer had chosen our family for her newborn daughter. Once again, I bought a crib bear that played a recording of intrauterine sounds, the swish swish of a mother’s heartbeat. I prayed somehow I could be enough for this child whose circumstances made it impossible for her to grow up with her mother and family of origin. I prayed for her mother, for peace, strength, courage, and grace to put the pieces of her broken experience together. Sharing with Beth about her adoption was always about her understanding that God had given her two mothers to love her. I always believed that they would meet one day and be reunited. I wrote letters to Jennifer and to Daniel’s mother each year to help bridge the years in between.
I discovered that motherhood was not about me being enough. It was about me being faithful and believing that our Father knew the plans He had for this child, plans for good and not for evil. I found myself grateful for my own brokenness and barrenness that made it possible for this incredible child to enter relationship with us. I discovered that I love her birthmother and see the wonder of Jennifer in Beth’s smile and laugh and determination. I figured out that Beth is as capable of loving two different mothers as I am of loving my two different children. I have witnessed the incredible blessing of watching my daughter’s heart be healed as she experienced the love and affirmation of the woman who gave birth to her and loved her enough to let her go. I have enjoyed meeting Beth’s sister and aunt and cousins and others. Most assuredly, I have seen the strength that flows into her from being accepted into this family that looks like her and accepts her, gifts that most people take for granted. I spent 13 years working in hospice. Beth’s birthmother is a hospice nurse and the state leader of her organization. Beth has the benefit of both of us. God knits together the experiences she needs to serve Him. And there is more. Jennifer is my sweet friend. My cup runs over.