Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Does it feel the same?

I've been privileged to bring three children into this world.

I will never forget how it felt to see their faces at the moment of their births.

Exhausted and in pain... then suddenly the whole world stops moving... like all the church bells in the world are ringing at the same time, and a ray of sunshine straight from heaven is shining down on this child in my arms. Every detail of this little stranger's face is new, but somehow familiar.

On those first long nights in the hospital, although I was weary, I found myself unable to look away. I just held my baby in my arms and memorized every eyelash and dimple. I still marvel every day at their beauty and uniqueness. Each son and daughter a delightful combination of my husband and myself.

I was SO eager for the world to appreciate the beauty of this person we had created in love, so I mailed out announcements and pictures within weeks.

Let's be honest.

My babies were jaundiced, scrunched, blotchy, hairless little people. But I was convinced they were the most beautiful things to ever grace the earth. I was blinded by love. It sounds cliche, but this love is something only a mother can understand.

I'm an adoptive mom too. And there is something I want you to know:

It felt the same.

He was an awkward teenage boy with stringy hair and baggy pants, but when I laid eyes on this 15-year-old boy who would be my son, my heart caught up in my throat. Beyond a deep and sweeping love, I felt an emotion I can only describe as "mineness". In those first awkward moments of our first meeting I tried to act natural and relaxed. But I couldn't take my eyes off him.

I know that not every adoptive mother feels that way when they see their child for the first time. We recently adopted a sibling group of 3 children and I can honestly say, that although they are about the cutest kids on earth, I didn't hear any church bells ring when they came to our home. They were placed in our home for temporary foster care with a goal of reunification. I think it took many weeks for me to let down my guard and begin to fall in love with them. My love for them started as a tiny spark that needed time to grow into the warm glow of "mineness".

But I feel it now.

Biological children and adopted children are different. This is an inescapable truth. The children I gave birth to were thrust into my arms the moment of their first breath. I felt every kick and have seen every milestone. They wear my husband's light eyes and sprinkle of freckles. Their faces possess an almost mystical attraction to us... because they are ours.

But becoming an adoptive mother taught me something new.

The God who formed the stars and the seas from nothingness can create an attraction between strangers, through adoption, that is just as strong as the one created by biology. When I gaze at the faces of my adopted children, I don't see the likeness of my spouse or self. I see the faces of their birthparents. But God has taken our human hearts, that seek out familiarity and likeness, and created in them a delight for variety.

It is a beautiful thing when this magic happens in an instant. When your eyes see past abuse and neglect and medical diagnoses and race and you fall in love with your child in that moment... but it is also beautiful when this love takes time to grow. When you push past hesitance and insecurity and confusion and allow love to blossom in it's own time.

Whether this love manifests in a split second, or takes years of careful nurture to grow... when you get there, it feels the same.

Friday, February 10, 2012

After a long silence.

It might seem that there was much I want to say. To catch you up. There are many things in my heart I have written and deleted, or not yet found the courage to write. So I will share only this:

Let's suppose that, from the very beginning, a child's personality, potential, talents, strengths and weaknesses are already set. Every detail already written on their DNA. That "how they will turn out" is decided before they take their first breath. Alcoholism, depression, sexuality, narcissism, addiction, anxiety, obesity, violence. Imprinted on their being as clearly, and inescapably, as the color of their eyes.

Would we adopt a child knowing that no amount of "nurture" can change the course set in place by "nature" from the moment of conception?

I can only speak for myself, friends. But I say "yes".

I would choose you. If I knew that your path was destined to be troubling and destructive, I would take your hand and walk beside you. Maybe that is all I have to offer you. Even if my efforts cannot change the destination, you will not have traveled there alone.