With All That I Am

As a teen and young adult, I dreamed of one day living out the perfect “Leave It To Beaver” existence- handsome husband, darling children, maintaining a fabulous home, volunteering for the PTA, playdates with our mommy-and-me friends, preparing my family’s favorite meals; all while maintaining the perfect hair and makeup.

At the age of 21, my physical health began to present questions about possible infertility.  I began to wonder what life would look like without that “white picket fence” dream come true.  I found myself grieving the unknown and wondering how a future mate might take that information.  Without any concrete facts, I gave my heart and my future plans over to the Lord and decided to trust Him with the outcome.

At 25, I started working for a foster agency and within two years was working for Child Protective Services.  There, I was exposed to some of the most brutal forms of abuse a child can ever endure.  I saw firsthand the realities of children in our foster care system, I came into contact with more and more children without a place to call home, and I began to feel a burden for adoption.  I knew that one day I would join the ranks of thousands who say yes to the call of raising a child they did not give birth to, and I knew that if getting married was not part of my plan, I would still someday be known as someone’s “mom.”

In my late 20’s, and as I rounded the corner into my 30’s, I witnessed friends and family members adding to their numbers.  I attended weddings and countless baby showers and secretly wondered if it would ever be my turn to play silly shower games and hold up teeny tiny clothes on top of my growing pregnant belly.  When I met my future husband at the age of 32, one of our first conversations was about a future family.  Already a father to adult children, he expressed a desire to increase his family through adoption.  By that time, I had already survived cancer and no longer felt the need to have biological children.  While we were not opposed to it, we were more passionate about adoption, so with our hearts united, we were married and became licensed foster parents shortly before our first anniversary.  We quickly welcomed two teens into our home, and although their stay was shorter than we had hoped or anticipated, we will never forget the special time surrounding the placement of our first kids.  In 2015, we celebrated the adoption of our son who is now 4-years-old, and with great anticipation, we are on track to finalize the adoption of our 2-year-old daughter by the end of this year.

Today, I woke up to the faces of two tiny human beings who call me mommy.  They giggled with delight as they gave me cards celebrating me for Mother’s Day, and their faces beamed with pride as I read the sweet words and acknowledged their precious efforts at writing out their names.  I also received a special gift from two of our adult children with a card that said, “The best moms aren’t always the ones who carry you in their uterus for 9 months-They’re the ones who carry you in their heart forever.”

As I sit here and reflect after a day full of goodness, I recognize that Mother’s Day can be a day of honor and thanks, but it can also be a day that brings great sadness.  I think of my grandmother who is no longer with us and the sorrow that brings for our family.  I think of my friends who have and are currently experiencing infertility or the loss of a child.  I think of those who may not have had a positive relationship with their mother and this day is only a reminder of painful experiences.

As I sit here, I think about my younger self and the plans I had for my “perfect” home life, and I am thankful that God heard my heart and knew that those dreams would be better fulfilled through my current circumstances.  I am thankful that God joined me to a man with grown children who honor me by allowing me into their lives and who have supported, embraced and loved on the addition of our littles.  I am thankful for all of the women who have played the part of a mother-figure at various times in my life and the one woman, my mom, who has always and who continues to be my greatest cheerleader, my example of kindness to others and the best grandma my kids could ever ask for.  With my daughter playing next to me, I look at her innocent face and wonder about the thousands of other children in foster care without a mother to call their own.  I can’t help but think that every day is a painful existence for them as they sit in a dorm facility, surrounded by a multitude of other children or in a foster home where they will ultimately age of the system.

As I sit here, I feel the urgency to encourage someone out there who has been hurting over their disappointments in this topic of motherhood, to challenge someone who has been contemplating joining the adoptive world but who is hesitant to do so.  I feel an urgency to pray that you will take a leap of faith towards a journey that will include pain, sorrow and great frustration; a journey that will ask you to leave behind all of the preconceived notions and labels you have heard about biology equaling motherhood; a journey that will include great happiness and unending joy.

As I sit here, I hear the silly screams of my children and their deep belly laughs, and I know without a doubt, that I could not love them more if they had come from my own body, and I know without a doubt that I will forever love them…with all that I am.