Monday, March 18, 2013

when adoption is part of your story

“Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished your child? If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to give me up; on the other, I had a woman who'd sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, who'd cried with me over boyfriends, who'd clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?
Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.” 
 Jodi Picoult, Handle With Care

you knew i couldn't just leave it at that.

i had to wrestle with the words a little longer.

it always blows my mind when a fraction of a moment contains more than an entire book's worth of words could explain.  that story i shared with you last week is case in point. 

lucy has two mothers.  
it's not something every parent has to explain to their child.  
every parent has questions about how they handle certain issues.  we all wonder if we've said the 'right' things in the 'right' way.  adoptive parents have one more layer to evaluate ourselves on.  how are we doing on the topic of adoption?  

are we saying too much?  not enough?  are we providing enough details?  should we share more openly?  are we emphasizing the importance of adoption in their story without making a 'big deal' out of it?  we talk to other adoptive parents, we read books, we consult experts, but the truth is - there is no one way to handle the subject of adoption in an adoptive family.

before lucy was born i spent enough time with her birthmother to love her...and i mean really love her.  i love her for the heroic way she gave life to a child when she was still a child herself...but i also love her for who she is apart from lucy.  i love that she is funny and creative and tender-hearted.  i love that she can laugh at herself and help others do the same.  i love that she has a fighting spirit.  

a few weeks before lucy was born i went to a birthing class with her birthmother.  part of the class involved taking a tour of the hospital where lucy would be born.  when we got to the labor and delivery floor and began walking through the rooms where lucy would pass from her arms to mine for the final time things got messy.  i'm talking cry-your-eyes-out messy.  the reality of 'adoption' hit us both.  

i remember standing in the hallway of the hospital with our arms wrapped tight around each other...tears falling onto each other's shoulders.  as i held this teenage girl i loved and we cried through the heartache of the situation i suddenly became keenly aware of the round mass nestled in between us.  for a moment my thoughts shifted to lucy - in between her two mothers.  i whispered a silent prayer that all the emotion we felt would wrap snugly around her as love.  it was all i ever wanted her to feel - loved...by all of us...never doubting that for a moment.

each of us has a story.  we have a great responsibility as parents to preserve the stories of our children...to show them how lovingly God writes each unique one.

i have many dreams for my children.  one of them is that they would steward their stories well.  that they would never feel the need to hide out in the back of the bookstore but instead see each page of their lives as something beautiful enough to share.  i pray that they would see the chapters filled with tears and the chapters filled with laughter of equal importance and value.

there were many tears surrounding the opening chapters of lucy's life but tears have a job to do in this world.  they are meant to protect our eyes - to prevent dryness, and flush out anything causing harm or pain.  maybe they do the same for our hearts.  maybe lucy is doing the same for me.  her life has washed over me and in her i have found that many of the obstructions of my heart have been flushed out and made clean.  with her i see more clearly.

perhaps knowing the weight i carry to help lucy steward her adoption story well gives you insight into the magnitude of the moment we shared last week...or the times when i overhear her lovingly tell her baby dolls that she is adopting them...or the joyful interest she takes in the stories of other families who are adopting.

when she declares thanksgiving for this story of hers, i feel the heavens erupt in celebration over the seeds of love planted deep in a child's heart and the evidence of redemption growing there.  

and my humble heart gives thanks too.