Monday, March 14, 2016

Heart-shaped Sandwiches

I’m coming off a hard weekend.  The kind where you wonder if you’re being punked by a show that has hired your children to follow a script where everyone else is laughing at the absurdity, but you’re left wide-eyed with your finger wagging constantly and your stern mom voice is getting a work out.

Because of a busy period for the husband, I’ve been flying mostly solo for the last three weeks.  Meal times.  Bed times.  Homework times. And all the in between times.  And just for fun, we’ve thrown in the time change.   The ones behind this idea are clearly haters of all mothers and their children.

My toddler has taken to lotion-like substances.  Although we do the responsible thing like put medicines on top shelves and securely rubber band our kitchen cabinets shut that contain the dishwasher soap, I have a persistent one who has figured out the use of two key strategic tools: scissors and stools.  This means that everything is now accessible and despite my ever vigilant parenting, it means that he has covered himself and the floors TWICE in the last week with shea butter and shampoo.  He smells so good and has such a nice glow about him.  As do my bathroom….and kitchen floors.  They’ve also had a good polishing with waterproof sunscreen.  

Another sweet tweener (Is that a word?  It should be.) knocked on our front door and greeted me with her two hands together, palms up holding a beloved, dead blue jay found outside.  I calmly asked her to put it down on the ground and remain in place. Ten seconds later, I met her at the same door armed with the extra large bottle of hand sanitizer and a lengthy lecture on the germ factors associated with touching deceased wildlife.  Also, we’ve maybe had this conversation before.

Yesterday, I made the nutritionally sound decision that because we were finally on our way home from church and it was 1 p.m. and I was a lone parent in the post-church trenches, we were going to enjoy our Sabbath meal by visiting the McDonald’s drive through.   I ordered 6 Egg McMuffins and one 4-piece nugget.  Even as I write this, I recognize the stupidity of this decision.  I clearly set myself up for failure.  One nugget lover is thrilled.  Everyone else suddenly wants nuggets.  So much so that there was an all out tantrum with seat kicking and nugget inspired, “I hate this family” sort of commentary coming from someone who has a flair for drama.  

One of them has also turned into a screen junkie.  I have fought screen time, but then I found out that they keep your kid from getting in trouble on the bus or provide you with a peaceful grocery shopping experience.  They can also buy you a half hour of quiet and when you’re on week three of single parenting, you make, um…some concessions.  But then when you pull the plug and someone is all out weeping because he only had to win 260 more points to earn a new NOT EVEN REAL, digital surfboard, you realize there. might. be. a. problem.

Last night, I laid my weary head down on the pillow and here’s what kept coming up:

I’m not doing this right.

I am failing at momhood.

Lately, bedtime quiet has turned into personal parenting reflection time and here’s what happens: 

I beat myself up.  

Each day, I’m getting “how to be a successful mom” messages that sound like this:

Feed them healthy, low-carb, no-sugar, organic, gluten-free, paleo diets.  Please cut all of the above foods into butterfly shapes.  Hot lunch is the equivalent to child food poison.

Education is important. Tonight, please read individually with four children for 20 minutes each. Practice Bible verses, review spelling words, patiently explain math worksheets, sign this form, check the following three slips to ensure free Pizza Hut certificates that you will never actually use.  If your child doesn’t come to school prepared, we will take a token away.  And remember, you have 4 weeks remaining to complete your, I mean their AR goal.   At one time, I was a teacher who thought this was all good stuff.  Now I’m a parent and I hate homework.

Get your children in programs.  Sports.  Music lessons.  Church groups.  Swimming lessons. Art extras.  Walking clubs.  Ballet lessons. Invest in their interests.  Provide them with experiences.  Start them now or they’ll be behind when it’s time for high school tryouts with additional college acceptance repercussions.  

When you’re out in public and then again when you’re home in private, no one should be acting like a fool.  Good manners.  Emotional stability.  Cooperative hand holding in the parking lot.  Smiles in the shopping carts.  No complaining.  Helpful spirits.  Sit still in church.  Be respectful.  When an adult bends down and greets your child with a hello, he should not reply with, “NO! I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!” . (I plead the fifth.)

Teach them internet safety.  Protect them in an overly-sexualized and over-materialized society.  Model patience and kindness.  Don’t yell.  Give them an example of a healthy marital relationship.  Play games.  Enjoy play dough.  Make sure they’re getting enough outdoor time and exercise.  Make sure their helmets fit properly, their shoes give good arch support, their toenails are clipped, their teeth are flossed, and they’re getting a good night of sleep.    Give them tools for conflict resolution other than pinching.  Be present.  Give them your full attention.  

I could go on and on.  But I also have what I refer to as the “Mom +” list.  Because in addition to my regular momming list, there’s a secondary adoption-related list.  I’ve just piled these messages onto my other messages over the years.

When you first come home with the newbie, this time is VITAL.  Restrict people from having access to your child in order to promote optimal bonding and attachment.  You feed.  You change diapers.  You provide all physical and emotional care.  Meet their needs in a timely manner.  Don’t venture out. Build trust.  Hole yourself up inside of your home for weeks.  We’ve given this hermit style living an actual term: cocooning.

Your children are coming to you with emotional deficits and trauma.  Understand how this affects their brains.  Know how this manifests in behavior.  Adjust your expectations and your disciplinary strategies.  Know when this requires counseling.  Find the appropriate counselor.  Step into the hurt with your child.  

Provide well-rounded, cultural experiences. Cook authentic food.  Celebrate additional holidays.  Listen to Ethiopian music.  Connect with the Ethiopian community.  

Because your child is black, they need black adult role models.  Build relationships in authentic ways for your child to connect with people who look like them.  If you live on a farm, in the middle of Ruralville, you are not exempt.  This is vital to your child’s well-being and acceptance of who they are.  Also, incorporate black literature and sweet potato casserole into your day to day routine.

Be developmentally honest and sensitive about your child’s beginnings and adoption story.  Create books affirming birth families.  Be open to your child’s need to connect with their biological families.  Navigate carefully.  Have the right words at the right time.  Use dolls as play therapy. Don’t be intimidated by your child’s loyalty to their birth family.  This is normal and anticipated.  Provide open opportunities that create a spirit of parental availability to these conversations.  But when they’re used to manipulate, don’t overreact or take it to heart.  Statements like, “You’re not my real mom and I don’t belong in this family,” are common and expected.

Frame your family’s story with the right wording.  Statements like, “God planned for you to be in our family,” can actually make your child resent God.  The spiritual component of adoption is tricky, so don’t mess it up.

Prepare them for adulthood.  When your black child leaves your home, no one will know he was raised by white parents.  Teach them how to respond in situations involving law enforcement.  Show them how to walk, dress and talk to authority figures.  Prepare them for mean comments, the “N” word, the sideways glances, the double standards, racism.

Get the hair right.  Know the difference between moroccan oil, argon oil and coconut oil.  Flat twists, afro puffs, corn rows, box braids…these are all part of your new vocabulary and new “skill” set.  Parts should be straight.  Moisturize properly.  Comb carefully to prevent breakage.  Short hair is a no-no.  And now about the skin care….

Model for them how to respond to people’s comments and questions.  Talk to their teachers about how to respond to….  Allow them to grieve.  Hang out with other adoptive families.  Keep learning and reading. Attend culture camps and/or camping weekends.

This is all good stuff.  Needed stuff.  Important stuff.  Not to be ignored stuff.  What I signed up for stuff.  

But it is A LOT of stuff.  So much so, that it can translate into the following belief system: your children’s emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being rests on your accomplishment of an ever growing, impossible to achieve list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s.  

My parenting becomes goal-oriented instead of love-oriented. 

Time for a switch up, because enough is enough.  I am doing my best and I’m tired of feeling like that isn’t going to cut it.  I am a mom, not the wonder woman of butterfly shaped lunches. We are a family who eats Egg McMuffins and has tantrums and I can’t take every bad choice my children make as a personal reflection of my parenting success.

So, I’m narrowing down the messages and focusing on the following:

Love them intentionally.
Show them Jesus.
Teach them to love themselves and others.

That just kind of sums it up for me.  It’s the biggest stuff. The most, most important stuff.  Not easy, but simple stuff.  

I want them to know that they’re more important than the laundry.  I want them to know that I have their back.  I’ll come to them in a crisis.  They are wanted and liked despite their imperfections.  I want to build them up instead of transfer my perfectionist tendencies unto their shoulders.  I’ll pause in my daily busy to lean in and listen.  I’ll take a breath when I’m getting frustrated.  Hug. Pat their heads. Smooch the faces at bedtime. I want to love them intentionally.

I don’t care if my kids grow up to be on the varsity soccer team or excellent spellers, but I do care that they look around them and can single out a person who needs a friend and have the self-confidence and awareness to be kind when it isn’t cool.  I want their go-to response to be, “How can I love right here, right now?”.  We’re going to make it a nightly ritual to ask:  how did you love someone today?  We’re complimenting, encouraging, highlighting compassionate choices…loving when it’s hard,  loving when we don’t feel like it, even loving a sibling who pinched us.  (Please add tips for this particular area in the comment section below.)  I want them to love others in ways that people take notice and I want them to know they’re loved in a way that they take notice.

And I want them to know that Jesus is the hole-filler.  That he loves even more.  That there are no mistaken children, because we are all image bearers of the Creator.  That he is the lover of their souls, the one who hung on a cross because of grace and redemption and healing, the mender of broken parts.  We love because WE ARE LOVED.

I’m sure this will all be easy.  I probably won’t mess it up.

But it’s just time to lay down the never ending lists and the unattainable messages and get back to basics. 

Love well.  
Love Jesus.  
Love ourselves.  
Love others.  

Maybe I’ll even throw in a heart-shaped sandwich this week as a love reminder.

































Monday, August 24, 2015

Say What?!

I had an adoptive mom recently pose the following question: 

Are we in the adoptive community scaring off people from asking us anything related to our adoption stories?  

It’s got me thinking.

People have created feisty, sarcastic youtube videos on the topic.  Closed adoption groups turn rant sessions on social media about interactions with strangers.  (Girls...come on now.  Can we pull ourselves together?) Pre-adoption seminars and trainings address the issue.  It seems that there is a very “PC” way of approaching an adoptive family these days.  It’s big stuff for those in the adoption community but our educated, postured, ready to take it on attitudes may have translated to the outside world as this:  Don’t ask anything so as to not offend.  

What happened to their real mom?  Are they siblings?  How do you take care of that hair?!?  Do they speak English or African?  Where are they from?  Are they from Detroit?  Is he mixed?  Are you a nanny?    Why didn’t their parents keep them?  The list goes on and on and I get it.  We’re different, a bit of a novelty, kind of noticeable. We’re a combination of blond, brown, graying and afro.  

Most questions and comments are anchored simply in a place of well-intentioned curiosity and wonder.  And you know what?  When I see other multi-racial families, I WONDER SIMILAR THINGS.  I just possess different,  questioning skills acquired through actual trainings on adoption vocabulary.  That is a real thing.  When I see other adoptive families, I naturally gravitate towards wanting to strike up a conversation even if they are complete strangers.  Sometimes those conversations happen and other times, I just stick with a smile and we’re on our way.  I’ve learned to pick up on the openness vibe.

Here’s the thing.  When I signed up to welcome children into my family who look very different than me, I knew this was coming and I knew it would be part of my interactions with people. Being annoyed at something I knew was going to be my reality is just a waste of opportunity and energy.   My response simply comes down to this:  How does my child hear, filter and understand the message that I send out both in my answer and in the way I answer?  Do they hear embarrassment or confidence in my tone?  Do my words affirm their identity or imply there is something to hide?  Do they see me smile and be polite or do they see me being curt and condescending?  

Now I have to say that most of the time, I can shake it off, shake, shake it off.  (Please note this impressive pop culture reference.)  Most of the time the questions don’t get me all in a dither. This is progress from when my first public outings involved me having mentally prepped notecards shuffling around in my brain.  I was on the ready.  And like most of the time, not one person approached me. Over time, we have refined our responses to the usual and expected questions.  Most of the time, I like to just use a little humor and then make an exit. 

Q-“How do you take care of that hair?!” 
A-“A lot of patience and a lot of product,” or “With a wide toothed comb.”

Q-“Do they speak African?”
A-“No one speaks African,” or “She speaks American.”

Q-“Are they from Detroit?”
A-“No.  Are you?”

But there are THOSE TIMES when people are just so wrong and rude and I need to show that it is also ok to be, shall we say…direct?

I am the ultimate defender of their hearts.

I am the one who says, “Nope.  That wasn’t OK.”

I set up big boundaries when people are out of line and say ill-intentioned things.

I once had someone tell me, as I was lathering up the young ones with sunscreen, that bringing my children to their condo pool would bring down their property value.  And you know what?  That was a time to throw a punch….. I mean take a stand.  When my children’s value is at stake, I get to be protective.  I get to show them that some comments are wrong and worth taking a stand on.  But not by acting like a lunatic.

Then there are those other precious moments when I get to share it all.  How this crazy, little family came to be.  I can tell about how God is using all of us to teach and heal each other.  I get to tell them about how I was challenged when I traveled and saw children growing up in institutional care.  I get to tell about those moments when God so clearly confirmed a step or settled my uncertain heart.  I get to talk about Ethiopia and how beautiful it is.  And it begs the question: am I looking for those moments to share the good, the amazing, the beautiful, the real?

Can I share some tips with those of you who want to ask but aren’t quite sure what words to use?

Their first mom was their birth mom.  I am just mom.  We are both real moms.  We’ve just played different parts.

Children don’t like to be signaled out on a particular feature that they already clearly know is different.  Comment on how beautiful my daughter’s hair is.  She doesn’t want to feel different. She wants to feel pretty.  And hands off.  Touching the hair of a stranger is akin to rubbing a random pregnant woman’s belly.

My kids are siblings.  Period.  To ask them if they are siblings is confusing to what they know as reality.  

Asking about why a birthparent decided to make an adoption plan (not why did they give them up) can be a painful and confusing reminder to an adopted child especially when they are trying to make sense of it in the first place. It is their story.  It is for them to share when they are comfortable.  It isn’t mall material.  

The best compliment someone can say about my family is this:  You have a beautiful family.  The end.  I know that this is code for, “I see you and I know you are an adoptive family and I like it.”

In general, is the question you are about to ask something that you would ask any stranger?  For instance, would you go up to a random less brown person and ask them if they speak English?  Would you ask a mom with two blondies if they are biologically related? Probably not?  I sense a guiding sentiment.

And if you want to strike up a conversation and aren’t sure…ask when the short people are out of earshot.  I always appreciate that.  It shows someone is interested in our family, but has the wherewithal to hold their questions for a more appropriate moment.

But adoptive mama bears, can we just not always be on the defensive?  Can we educate in a gracious way?  Can we look for moments to bring together instead of push away?  Our stories are worth telling and we don’t want to miss it.  Of course, protect.  Of course, teach.  Of course, be ready.  

But…

Let our words inspire.
Let our words do good.
Let our words be better.

Let our words tell His stories.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Story Sharers



Five years ago, I stood in a room and I could not stop crying.  

I’d just watched a slide show set to appropriately inspirational music of families and they were ALL like mine.  The faces were, of course, different, but the familiarity of their mismatched eyes and multi-skin tones and long-awaited (or still waiting) smiles resonated to a point that I could not pull myself together. 

When I entered adoptive parenting I figured that with baby in tow, I would slip into an immediate connection with my other mom friends that just sort of reflected a “took me much longer and it was painful and hard, but now we’re on level playing fields so carry on as usual” kind of attitude.  And I did connect in a lot of ways.  Except that my narrative to motherhood never quite meshed.  When other moms shared their labor stories or their pregnancy woes or their frustrations with breastfeeding, I listened because let’s be honest…these can make for some really interesting stories.  But somehow these stories also made me feel like a little bit less of a mom.  I didn’t birth my children.  I didn’t feel them swim around in my belly and kick me in my sleep.    I don’t know how to explain it really except that I only felt like a 95% mom and those around me were 100% moms.

So that room, where I couldn’t stop crying is where I realized that I needed someone else’s story to be like mine.  That may not sound that significant, but for this self-sufficient introvert it felt like a slow exhale released after being held in for a long time.  In that room, I was “one of” instead of “the only one.”  It felt like belonging.

I knew that when my heart ached for children without families, these lady’s hearts were moved by the same ache.  I knew that when I prayed and waited for a fridge picture to turn into a toddling daughter in my kitchen, these ladies didn’t need me to explain the connection I felt to a photo.  I knew that when I struggled with the emptiness my birthmoms lived with, these women also carried their birth families around in their minds with a heaviness, too.    When I got on an airplane feeling a little bit TERRIFIED, they could relate to the second-guessing excitement and happy nerves.   When I talk about my kids living through trauma, loss and rejection, they know how that shows up and what it sounds like and looks like.

I connected in that room.  These were my people.  I fit there.  I was 100% legit.  And that all bubbled up just from the slide show.  So might you imagine where my heart went from there as we shared meals, laughed late into the night, prayed and listened  and worshiped in tandem, and filled up our minds listening and thinking, “Oh…so that!”.

Since they’ve come into my life, my adoptive mom friends have become life-giving friends.  We close down restaurants together or we can hang out at a pool without having to explain why there’s a swim cap protecting an afro.  We plan big things together.  We can talk fungal infections like it’s nobody’s business.  When their eyes prick with tears, I can feel mine getting a little watery.  When I share hurtful things people have said, they’re willing to beat them up or just be hurt with me.  

Maybe now is also a good time to say that these women are clearly not my only people.  My mom brings sanity to our family with her constant helpfulness and childcare assistance.  My dad can write an encouraging word at just the right time.  My siblings love on my kids and have prayed earnestly on behalf of our family.  Our church peeps encouraged us, welcomed us and celebrated us.  My relationships with non-adoptive moms are equally important and needed.  My village is multi-faceted and full of important players.  They, too, are who I want to do life with and connect with.  Hugs all around!  Air kisses for everyone!

I just didn’t know how much I also needed my story sharers.  I could go about my days without them, but I’d just as well enjoy their company for years to come as our kids get older and the need for connection continues and maybe even grows.   Adolescence is coming for crying out loud.

But there’s this other side of connecting, too, in that I am a story sharer for someone else.   That’s what I want to be because deep down, we all want to feel validated and like we aren’t the only one.  That’s why I write slightly personal things.   That’s why I share about our family when I’d rather not be standing in front of a crowd forgetting normal breathing patterns.  (That has maybe happened.)  And that’s why I’m stepping out into unknowns and laying in bed, wide-eyed in the wee hours of the morning as I think about a little get together for my groupies.  I’m praying that God will stir some (<- 200+) hearts into thinking:

Maybe this will be good.  

Maybe I need this.  

Maybe I will be understood.

Maybe I will belong.

Maybe I just need some time to exhale this big breath I’ve been sucking in forever now. 

Maybe I need some story sharers in my life.


For more information on our upcoming adoptive mom retreat, please visit www.wovenbylove.org.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dear Almost Mom,



I’ve gotten to talk to a few almost moms over the years.  They’re the ones waiting for their first baby to make his or her entrance into the world.  They’re the ones who walk on eggshells as they await a birthmom following through with a difficult decision.  They’re the ones who will soon make their way to the hospital.  My mind has been reliving this time and rethinking it like I’m watching a movie of my own experiences.  Those first-time, soon-to-be, adoptive mamas are on my radar.  I know you’re out there and that we’re few and far between.  You’re soon going to meet your first baby. 
 
And she or he is coming into the world while you watch.  

While someone else goes through labor pains, you will pace a room in anticipation.  You will let your hope rise just high enough to protect your soul in the event that there’s a change in plans.  You start to think of the future, but also try to silence that question that rises up over and over, “What if she changes her mind?”.  You have an empty room at home outfitted for a newborn.  Diapers are in the drawers.  Clothes are hanging in the closets.  Formula is in the cupboard.  And you still don’t even know if you’ll come home with this baby.  

This mama…you, first-timers, are on my mind.

I wish someone had prepared me for that time when I stepped foot out the door, buckled into the car, and drove the seemingly endless drive to the hospital.  I wish I had heard the wisdom of someone who had gone through that experience.  Instead I felt confident in the run-down of procedure from a social worker.  I was prepared for the schedule of events.  I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of the uncomfortable emotional reality that for the first few days, I was going to be somewhat of a bystander in the arrival of my child.  

That is a hard spot.  

This is the letter I wish someone had written me. 

Dear Almost Mom,

Can you believe you are here?  THIS DAY.  The one you thought might never happen.  The one where all the past, the pain, the struggle would blur with anticipation at an ACUTAL, REAL, IN-THE-FLESH child on the way?  The one where a phone call telling you that you had been chosen turned into you stepping into the car and heading to the hospital?  It is here!  Your baby is on the way!  She is coming today!  It is happening and I am so excited, joy-filled, overflowingly happy for you.   I know what you’ve gone through to get here.  I know how the nerves are on overdrive, the heart is bursting, the hands are shaking, the adrenaline is pumping and the thoughts are racing. 

Did you make your phone calls?  “Mom, we’re on our way to the hospital.  She’s in labor.  I don’t know the details.  I’ll call you when I know more.”

Did you walk to the kitchen four times trying to remember that you were looking for your keys?

Did you grab the gear?  The camera?  The gifts?  Your shoes?

Did you get in the car, look at your husband and lock eyes?  The look that says more than words can articulate.  You’ve been on this journey with him and it has taken you to places you didn’t know you could weather.  And now you’re here…together.

Did you drive out of the driveway wondering how your neighbor could be mowing at a time like this?   
Did you pass familiar sites thinking they all looked differently?  Did time move too slowly and too quickly all at the same time?

Did you try and act calm as you were on your way?  Did you take deep, deep breaths and let them out trying to settle yourself?  Did you look in the mirror and wonder if you should put on lipstick for this sort of thing?

What I want you to know is that when you get there, when you get to the hospital, it’s going to be hard.  It’s going to be an uncomfortable and awkward kind of special.  This is a part of your labor experience even though someone else is going through the physical pain.  And more importantly…this is going to be a shared experience.  Sometimes you will get a taste of motherhood and other times you will watch someone else look down at her baby with affectionate eyes.  For a day or two or three, you will both be moms….in the same space, in the same room, to the same child.

Can I tell you about my time in those moments?  

I didn’t know where to sit.  In the chair? Across the room?  Next to her on the bed?  I held the camera but didn’t know what to do with it.  Should I even take pictures?  A few?  A lot? Or her?  Or me?  Or just the baby?  Or maybe all of us?  Or maybe none of us?  Do I pick up my daughter or wait for her to be handed to me? Should I kiss her face?  Express my love when she doesn’t yet feel like mine?  Do I look away when tears rise up?  Do I act joyful knowing I will be a mom or do I act somber knowing that soon she won’t be?  Do we stay when others come to visit?  How do we introduce ourselves?  What do we talk about?  Should we stay a long time or keep our visit short?  What do I do and where do I go when her friends pass my/her baby around the room?  Do I refer to her as my baby?  Her baby?  Our baby?

During this time…

I had a young brother loudly and repeatedly ask me where exactly we lived.

I went out for Thai food with a father I had just met while his daughter waited for some forward labor progress.

I had a teenager tell me how to clean out a baby’s nose when he was congested.

I had a nurse ask if I was the sister.

I was asked if I wanted to hold her legs while she pushed.

I watched my husband cut her chord.

And then I went home at night still without a baby.  And I did not sleep.

It is a time of feeling out of control.  It is a time of meeting your child but on someone else’s terms.  It is a time of sitting back and sitting by.  And that’s OK.  Because in a few days, she will put this baby in your arms and then life will happen on your terms.  Let her have this time even though it will fight against everything you feel.  She has these few days.  You have forever.  What a gift for her to have these moments with her baby.  How hard it is to watch it all in front of your eyes.  How hard it is to share.  How hard it is to not be mom yet.   

The time is coming when you will get back in the car, make the drive again, and walk into the hospital carrying an empty car seat.  The emotions of the days before will now be amplified ten-fold.

You will walk into a room and the mood will have changed.  It will be uncomfortably quiet or there will be meaningless conversation to fill the room with noise.  There will be a sense of what’s to come.  What you thought would be the best day of your life will equally be the worst day of your life.  These are moments of acute reality.  These are moments of finality.  These are moments when a decision made months ago become a decision coming to fruition.  This is the painful, painful part of adoption.  And you will maybe even start to blame yourself for having a part in the grief.

What I did not see coming was how awful I felt when I saw the red, splotchy face.  I did not anticipate the guilt that would come as she kissed a tiny face and whispered a few words and then walked away.  Instead of smiling, we all stood there weeping in the public lobby of the hospital.  I did not feel joy-filled anymore.  I second guessed this decision for her.  I wondered if this was a mistake.  My heart was heavy and grieving.  My emotions were tricking me.   I partly wanted to buckle this kid up and run for the car, partly wanted to stay right in this moment, and partly wanted to adopt an entire second family on the spot.

Almost mom, you can do this.  It is one more time when most won’t understand what you’re going to go through.  I do.  Love this baby and her first mom, but give her this time.  It is a gift to her and to your child.  Let it go.  Take the pictures.  Take them of the two of them even when your heart kind of hurts doing it.  Someday, your little one will grow into a bigger one and these pictures will show her she was loved, cherished and wanted when she feels abandoned and rejected.  Love on the both of them.  Say how hard it is.  Hug often.  Let her see your tears.  Let her see your smiles of delight.  They’re both important and honest and part of this whole, crazy, complicated situation.  Write it all down.  It’s your child’s birth story and you don’t want to forget it.  Bring her flowers.  Pray in the midst of it all.

There will be this one moment…the one where everything switches.  You will now hold your baby and you will no longer be almost mom but instead just mom and she will watch.  You will weep for her and for your baby and for this whole life-changing moment.  And then you will get in the car again, this time heading home for good.  Those hard feelings…they’re going to stick with you.  They’ll be right on the surface for some time .  Ten years later they may bring tears to your eyes when you think back on the whole situation.

It will get better.  

How thankful I am for those special, difficult days.  It softened my heart to a young woman who it may have been easier to keep at an emotional arms length.  We are now bonded over a deep love for our daughter.  We both stepped into an impossible situation and came out the other end.  

It was so worth it.

But above all else, can you remember one important thing? 

Someone else was in that room.  He held us each in our different emotions.  He wept and loved and encouraged and took hold of our hands.  He saw us in our desperate times.  When she got in the car without a baby, he went with her.  When we got in the car and began our shaky days of parenting, he came with us, too.  How. Great. Is. This. God.   He was there!  He was there!  

So, dear almost mom, I am hugging on you right here in my kitchen wherever you may be, whatever you are about to go through…You are on my mind as you learn to love your little one and her first mom.  May this time be filled with the full spectrum on emotions, but more importantly may you remember that you walk this path with Him.  

He will be there for you, too.

K