5 years ago I was swallowed in motherhood. Overwhelmed, lonely, trying to keep my head above water with a 1 year old and 2 month old and a husband who was working non-stop to get his business running. I was in a new town, no friends, no roots. I struggled to be grateful for my blessings instead of just seeing the demands of my minute by minute.
4 years ago I pushed myself to be grateful. With a 1 and 2 year old life was busy and it was hard to get time to myself to recharge. I was sure our family was complete and very set on adding no more children to our family, finally making it out of the trenches just a bit.
3 years ago we were starting to hit our stride. Mother’s day was fun and enjoyable with handprint flowers and pancakes in bed. I finally enjoyed motherhood far more than I was overwhelmed or swallowed in worry or stress from it. I was so thankful for our two kids and life was finally getting easier.
2 years ago on mother’s day was the time God planted that seed in my heart…are we done? Really? It was then that we started exploring adoption again and just a month after mother’s day that year, we embarked on a journey to adopt.
1 year ago, mother’s day hurt. Where were my children? What was their mom going through? Our family was not complete and we all tasted the hurt of longing and a lack of wholeness in our home. Mother’s day without my children made my heart ache in the waiting but yet still trying to enjoy the moments with our two at the time.
This mother’s day is a flurry of emotions. I am so grateful for where we are. 4 kids later we are busy, life is a little chaotic, loud and unpredictable. But it is also fun, hilarious, and right where I want to be. There are still hard days, even some every now and then where I recall very closely those days of trying to keep my head above water. But more so are the days of laughter and interesting conversations, funny questions, deep talks, silly games and hours outside.
But my heart is split this mother’s day too: For the mom that my children are surely starting to forget. I pray her face isn’t fading from their mind but it has now been at least a year since they were together. Maybe a lot more. The few memories Maran has shared with me are all positive about her mom. And I see her everywhere in Maran and Levi. In their round dark eyes, in their precious pouts, in their desire to help, in their compulsion with organizing and closing things, in their gentleness and desire for affection. I know that their mother loved them well. But most likely, death or poverty separated them from her. No family should ever be separated due to poverty. My heart aches for her if she is alive on this day without her children. My thoughts go to the aching in her heart, much greater than mine last year on this day. The two children she bore, she has no idea where they are, if they are alive, if they have a family. What I wouldn’t give to sit down with her and tell her all the joy she has brought into my life. Her pain and tragedy is my incredible gift. She has done the greatest thing. Laid down her desire, for our children’s survival. I cannot imagine being in that place. No one should ever be. This is the messy part of adoption. In a perfect world, in heaven, there are no orphans. There are no families separated by preventable illness, a shortage of money or food, or war. This is not how God intended. That is why our family will fight fiercely and give extravagantly to prevent orphans from being created in the first place. This is our passion. But sometimes you have to respond to tragedy. Adoption is that response for us as well.
I’ve written their mom several letters, letters that will never be sent, but just trying to get the weight off of my heart and the thoughts off of my mind. But she will always be in our lives. I will pray for her frequently. I will tell Maran and Levi about the woman who made the impossible choice for life for them. The complete self-sacrifice she most likely made to give them a chance at hope.
You see, they are our children, both hers and mine. Just because I hold a paper that says they are now mine, that takes away nothing from the fact they were hers first. She saw their first smiles, rolls, coos, crawls and steps. She felt the pain as they entered the world, she felt the pain the last time she saw them. I walked alongside their pain as they mourned the loss of her, the loss of the life they knew, the loss of the “comfort” of the orphanage. My thoughts went to her as Levi took his first steps. As we clapped and cheered for him, I thought of her. My heart went to her on Maran’s first day of preschool, how proud she would be of her daughter that is now speaking English, sharing, and venturing into brave new territories. My thoughts went to her as we got back all of our medical tests, how she fought valiantly to protect them the best she could. While I don’t want to “glorify” her to my children, I know she made some courageous decisions. Decisions that some people would see as selfish or unnecessary, she made the best choice she could.
You see we are all mothers facing different decisions, hardships, and challenges. Unfortunately her hardship caused her the loss of her two babies, her hardship is my blessing. She bore it for me. I will never know the true story of her choice, but I see it in the eyes of her children, my children. It is rare for two women to share such a fierce love of the same two children. We are forever linked through the chocolate skin and almond eyes of our children. Hers. Mine. Tragedy. Victory. Pain. Blessing. Loss. Redemption.
We were reading the story of Lazarus the other night and talking about resurrection and God changing things for our good and his glory. The redeeming power of Jesus. What Satan intends for harm, God turns for the good of his children. I shared a sweet moment with Maran, this is your story my sweet girl. What Satan intended to leave you robbed, alone, orphaned on the streets of Congo, God used for good, for her good, for mine mostly I am sure. God gets the final word. Jesus has the victory here. Even though their mother still feels the pain of this, even though as a family we will walk through seasons of suffering and pain as a result of a heart full of hurts, confused identity, or past baggage there is still victory there. And we are each a grace-filled picture of beauty from ashes.