Thursday, March 28, 2013

Confessions from an Adoptive Mother

Thank you, Dear Readers, for the outpouring of support I received for my last post, Time to Confess. Your blog comments, Facebook comments, and emails reminded me that I have a "virtual village." I am honored you shared my words with your friends. I am grateful you took a moment out of your busy day to write a comment.

So, while I'm at it, I have some more confessions to share.

Once a month, I get angry at The Powers that Be. I'm working on letting go of my anger, because I know it only hurts myself. Anger is a stage in the grief process, and it's the emotion I feel every month when I am suffering from severe menstrual cramps.

Many years ago, when I was complaining to my sister, she comforted me by saying how cramps are the body's way of preparing the uterus for childbirth. So, for a few years there, her words provided a teeny bit of comfort. I felt like my pain had a purpose and one day, when I experienced the miracle of childbirth, it would all be worthwhile.

But I am not destined to be a biological mama. And each month for the past 25 years, I've been experiencing one to three days of severe cramps and/or associated PMS. It just makes me, well, a bit pissed off. Because, what is the point?!?!? Each month now, the physical pain triggers a deep, deep psychological pain. It is a reminder of what I will never experience. I will never carry a life in my womb. I will never feel a baby kick from the inside. I will never have a child with my legs or my husbands eyes. My genetic line (and I can trace my ancestry back at least four generations with photos) dies with me.

I'm still mourning the death of my dream. I sometimes wonder if I will ever stop mourning. The wound will heal, but will the scar remain or fade away?

Ironically, adoption was always a part of my parenting plan. I used to tell people that I just wanted to have one of my own first because I wanted to experience the miracle of pregnancy. I wanted to create life. I dreamed of witnessing my baby's first breath; of feeling overwhelmed with love when I held my seconds-old baby.

Adoption is a miracle. No less of a miracle than biological childbirth. I tell my daughter she is my miracle. Because of all the mamas and all the babies in the whole wide world, we found each other. I tell her mommy waited and waited and waited for her spirit to come to us and she was worth the wait. I tell her she is my wish come true and she made me a mama, something I always dreamed of. I'll tell her that for some reason, she didn't come through me, but she was always meant to be mine. A fellow adoptive mother once told me we adoptive mamas are the space holders. We are an open space for babies who need a home. Maybe this is the reason.

But I am dreading the day she realizes she did not come from us but instead grew in another woman's belly. We've never made her adoption a secret, it's just that now she's too young to understand what it all means. It pains me that she could feel a lifelong sense of loss because her birthmother chose to give her away. One adopted woman told me no matter how good she had it in her adopted family, she always felt a sense of loss because she was given away. I plan to tell my child she was always destined to be my daughter. We don't have a genetic connection, but we have a spiritual one. And that is the one that counts. That one is even thicker than blood.

Hours after she was born, her birthmother asked us to love her baby like she was our own. This now seems odd to me, because SHE IS OUR OWN. I can't imagine loving her anymore. I'm almost positive that could not even be possible. (Although, how would I know for sure? Sometimes I wonder, which is ridiculous, because why does it even matter?)

But here's another confession: it saddens me that I am not my child's ONLY mama. I know this is selfish. If a mother can love more than one child, I'm sure a child can love more than one mother. So I tell myself that she will experience more love. I should be happy about that. It's just that I have this fear that when she chooses to track down her biological family (if she does), that I'll be replaced. That she will want to spend holidays with them. It's not a huge fear, but it's still there.

Sometimes I forget she is adopted. But sometimes I'm painfully reminded. Once at Gymboree, a nanny asked me if she was my child. "Yes," I replied. "Are you sure?" she said, "She doesn't look anything like you." WTF!?! Of course, I started crying. People say the rudest things. Several people have asked me about her "real" mother. I now reply that I am her real mother. I'm the one who checks her in the middle of the night to make sure she is still breathing; the one that wipes her tears and kisses her boo-boos. I have been there for her since she was ten minutes old. (I wanted to be there sooner, but legally she wasn't ours then and it wasn't my decision. So I missed her entry into the world. When she took her first breath, I was feeling helpless from the waiting room. I heard a cry (hers?) and my arms longed to comfort her. "She needs me," I sobbed into my husband's arms. Although, to be honest with myself, it was me who needed her.)

So, maybe you can understand my feelings a little better now. My journey to motherhood was complicated. Just like all the other really great things in life, it was joy and sorrow, love and loss, pain and sheer bliss all rolled up in one. Because I am immensely grateful that my daughter is healthy, and beautiful, and exactly as she is. I honestly wouldn't change how she came to us. Because then she wouldn't be her. I am a better person because of my journey. I am for sure a better mother too. Infertilty and adoption were a challenge for our marriage, but my husband and I have grown closer as well.

I will never take being a mama for granted. I want to always remember how much I loved and longed for my baby before she even was conceived (in a state far away, in a different woman's body, just waiting to reunite with me, her own, real mama.)

It's just that, even while somewhere in me I knew otherwise, I was still kinda hoping maybe I would get pregnant too. Deep down I was hoping that my parenting plan was just reversed. I was hoping maybe the pregnancy would come after the adoption.

But that won't happen. Last month I decided to go back on The Pill. After almost five years off of it, I can't take the pain anymore. By choosing to take it, I am completely closing the door on my dream of a biological baby. While I'm pretty sure the door was closed already, my hope had kept it just a teeny bit ajar. I visualize that hope as a light seeping out from the edge of the door. But now, that light has gone out.


  1. Oh honey. You ARE Abeni's mama. You were always meant to be her mama. And having experienced the heartbreak of infertility myself, I feel the same anger once a month. What's the point of cramps and the pain if I can't have a child? Why did I spend all those years on birth control? Why me? And then the "oh, you'll know when you have kids" comments are hurtful, too. I know you know all this. I'm just saying I love you and understand.

    1. Thanks for the understanding. I am sorry for your pain too, my dear friend.

  2. Anonymous10:20 AM CDT

    No door is ever closed with God, but that's another story. I became pregnant with my daughter after having the IUD nearly penetrate my uteran wall. They said the scar would prevent me from getting pregnant. Yeah right! My uncle Wallace was basically raised by his great-grandmother. I had 2 Moms, My 2 kids have at least 3 Moms. Me and 2 others. So biological birth is not the panecea of parenting. I firmly believe that the God I serve placed baby girl in the womb of her biological mother just for you and my son! Otherwise, how can you explain that SHE decided to "give" birth and transfer the love and care of baby girl to you? Especially since she already had other children. I agree with your friend who said adoptive parents are place holders. Those (special) babies are held in a (special) 'place' for special parents to 'hold.' I read a quote somewhere that said - Just because your house has a garage doesn't mean you have to have a car to fill it up - or something like that. So, just because every woman has a uterus doesn't mean "every baby" must be born from HER uterus. And whomever that nanny was - she's off the mark. I show that sid-by-side picture of your grandmother and baby girl to a lot of people - they usally gasp and say .. they look just alike! The picture of the two of in in you UM caps is another one that brings gasps. And, the one of her on Daddy's shoulders always brings - he looks like you (me) and she looks like him. Next time she or anyone makes a similar comment tell them - YaYa says don't mess with God's work - he knew what he was doing! You ARE her REAL mother and when she can understand and express it, she will say the same - with her hands on her hips and the sistah girl neck roll. :-) I plan to tell her that her biological mother loved her so much that she entrusted her to you guys because she knew that YOU 2 would love her as much as she did. There are NO real or un-real mothers or fathers - there are just those who choose to share big pieces of their hearts with children who are theri adoptive, foster, step, nieces, nephews, cousins, sisters, brothers ... etc children. As I've before, I was a "fertile Myrtle" and though I said I didn't want to get pregnant again, when I had to have my hysterectomy, I suddenly realized that I would never be able to, and that really messed with my emotions for a few years. Finally, my BFF (TJ) is probably your closest and best resource to understand your feelings. I watched her try and try to conceive without success. But, she raised 2 children (not including my 2)and I suspect she went through a similar spate of mourning as well. And, she loves baby girl and you guys. Thanks for letting me into your heart.

    1. Tell me what you really think. *smile*
      Love you!

  3. Oh Kathianne! I have tears in my eyes that you are still feeling pain about not having a biological child. I wish (as a fellow adoptive mama) that I could commiserate with your feelings, but I can’t. For me personally, it was never about the pregnancy. It was about being a parent and what came along with that role for a child’s entire life. Although I know my children have “birthmothers”, I know that I am working to raise them to be confident in the fact that we are their parents. I am prepared for moments of confusion and them wanting to know more, but I will be the one supporting their emotions through these troubled times which I feel will make our mother/child bond even stronger.

    When we chose Hollister to be a part of our family and found out that his mother possibly did drugs…I told the counselor, “We can’t fear what the future holds for him because of what his birthmother did because God intended for him to be our child. We must trust that he is perfect because he was meant to be ours.”

    Abeni is your child. You chose her, and God chose her for you! She did not biologically come from you, but she is YOURS. Your family’s story is different, but that doesn’t make it any less special than having your own biological child. I know your head knows that, but I hope that your heart FEELS that.

    I am here anytime you need a shoulder to lean on or someone to talk it out with! Thanks for always being candid and sharing what is on your heart.


    1. Your comment, especially the last 2 lines of your first paragraph, have given me comfort. Thank you. Hugs

  4. i love you and thank you for sharing this. it's been on my heart ever since you first published and i wasn't sure how to respond. we all have fears about our children growing up and how little they will call home. nothing is guaranteed and what was mother teresa's response? "people are irrational, love them anyway." Love big. Don't miss your chance filled with worry. I say this to myself just as much. I'm just as guilty. the best we can do is live in the moment. because they are laughing with us right now, and i'm hoping for a special teenager relationship, too. live in the now, live in the now, live in the now.

    1. live in the now, live in the now, live in the now

  5. You sound like a wonderful mother and I'm sure that when the issue of adoption comes up when your daughter is older, you will handle it with love and grace.

  6. Thank you, Nancy, for leaving a comment and for your kind words.